Haiti 'snake artist' uses Carnival to get by
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Saintilus Resilus' day job this time of year is walking the streets of Haiti's capital with snakes on his head.
He sees himself as something of a performance artist, showing off with snakes and other animals that Haitians don't see every day, earning tips from impromptu audiences during the pre-Lenten Carnival season.
"Sometimes I put the head of a snake in my mouth," Resilus, 58, said while sitting in a plastic chair in his cinderblock box of a home. "It's not something anyone can do."
He demonstrated by stuffing the tip of a four-foot Haitian boa in his mouth. The serpent's tail kicked and curled around Resilus' neck.
Resilus is one of millions of people scrambling to get by in a country where the unemployment rate hovers around 60 percent and most get by on $2 a day.
Resilus has used snakes and other animals to earn a little money since at least 1974.
This year, he has new catches to display: an owl tied to his chair with twine, along with a collection of marsh hens stored in a tool box at his feet. He promises to let them go after Carnival.
But the snakes? No, those will stay.
It's the serpents that help him eat and pay rent, in addition to his work for a neighborhood herbologist. And it's the snakes for which he's most famous.
"I'm an artist, an artist of the country," he said. "If you go on the Internet you'll see me."
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