Holy snakes! I see dead people!

Carried by the crowd, I moved from the searing heat into the shade of the church. The priest muttered quiet prayers and incantations, and approached me with his arms outstretched before him. He raised the snake and pressed it to my forehead, to my lips, to my chest. He turned to the old woman next to me, a widow, and repeated the gesture. She clutched her walking stick and received the blessing gratefully with a series of sharp nods which sent the tail of her black headscarf billowing into the air. It was the hottest part of the day in…

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