Universidad Central de Venezuela
Fire Department
       Back in 1980, I joined the fire department of the Universidad Central de Venezuela.  At the age of 16, I was the younger fireman that ever  served there.  My experience  in the fire  Department can better be described as total sensory overload.  I found my self learning so many thing, not only the syllabus of the different course that my training involved but also much about the world, life, and people around me.  I took up the opportunities to learn scuba diving, rock climbing and all other sort of outdoors, adventurous activities that I was eager to live.  Being an adrenaline junky, had just landed on heaven!!  The rest of my life will not suffice to match what I learned and lived in the time I served as a fireman at Universidad Central de Venezuela.
     Other than the labors of fire fighting and save and rescue that we did we have a strong involvement educating the community how to act in cases of emergencies.  We taught classes of first aids, prevention of accident, fire prevention and combat, ophidiology among others.  My passion for teaching lead me to work harder in this field and at the third year I was working heavily in teaching and training not only the community but developing courses and classes for other firemen in the station.  

       My time in the fire department was not without accidents.  On my second year I had a bad fall from a second story over pavement and broke all my four limbs.  Luckily, nothing more than my limbs suffer damaged and I recovered fully from the wounds.  Thanks for the helmet, I recall vividly the loud bang of the helmet on the pavement when I hit the ground!!  A few more months later I was back on business more decided to continue my work as a fireman.   A few more years later, something when wrong on a drill and I saw myself wrapped in flames.  By the time I ran out of the fire and dropped to the ground to put my self out I had suffered relatively serious burns that had me out of circulation for a good while more.  Unlike the former time I was not wearing the protective gear that I should have had!  I learned my lessons and continued my work as a firemen but I had already  matured from being and adrenaline junky to a more serious and responsible firemen.  The rest of my 7 years working actively at the fire department when without more accidents and I manage to draw from my experience in my teaching to other younger firemen.
      A rather common emergency in Caracas (a large city with abundant patches of tropical forest and natural vegetation) was the appearance of an "unknown" snake in the houses or gardens of the city.  It was here where I could develop my passion for snake since I often was summoned to capture and restrain a snake that had been found too close to comfort!  I had the opportunity to learn more about snakes and to keep some of them in captivity.  I often had a fer-der-lance and a rattle snake in the head quarters of the fire department that I used to give lectures and train other firemen how to control and subdue the snake in a manner that was safe for the snake and the handler.

        A friend of mine once brought me a "baby" anaconda that he received from the jungle. 
With time I learned more about anacondas and now I know that it was not a baby but a full grown male, they just do not grow to be too big (click here for details).  It was 2 meters long and extremely short tempered.  It bit me every single time I handled!! It bit me so many times that I learned not to withdraw my hand when in bites and instead hold it steady or push it farther into his mouth which often makes him open up.  This pieces of learning proved invaluable after I started handling larger more dangerous animals.  Tire of being bitten and fearing that the cage that I had was too small for him, I gave it to the local zoo where I heard he nailed all the keepers as well!!!