Lessons Learned the Hard Way – No. 95

11 07 2008


Always check local pronunciations before going swimming.

We were flying over the endless Amazonian jungles of
Suriname in a small turbo-prop aircraft. Despite the air flooding in through a small hole at the bottom of the door, the heat was so intense that the pilot’s shirt was transparent with moisture and perspiration cascaded from his brow.  Amid boxes of food and drums of fuel I turned to our guide who was sitting in front of me:


“Are there many piranha here?” I shouted over the din of the engines, nodding towards the window.


He surveyed me quizzically.


“No,” he paused, “…not here.”


The next day we were relaxing in a crystal clear river after a long jungle hike. Huge trees hung languidly from the banks providing shade from the relentless sun while glorious birds flitted from one side to the other. We lounged on pristine sand flecked with fool’s gold, the shallow cool water reaching to our shoulders and lapping at our necks. Colourful fish swam around our legs and midrifts: magnificent blues, reds and silvers. We watched them idly while revelling in our beautiful surroundings.


“What fish are those?” someone casually asked our guide.


“Peee-ran-ya.” he replied.


“Pirr-arna?” we all exclaimed in unison, sitting bolt upright and staring at our piscine friends.


“Yes, peee-ran-ya. But don’t worry, they only bite if you’re bleeding.” he explained.


“None of you have any cuts, do you?” he suddenly asked quite concerned.



Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008




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