I had to re-evaluate my decision to volunteer in the Venezuelan jungle as I dragged half a tree through deep swamp, the bark scratching against my sweaty, dirty, shirtless skin and providing a bridge for some of the region’s more rare and interesting insects to cross onto my body and interact with the mosquitoes already there, unable to be swatted away due to the weight of the wood I was painstakingly trying to keep up. All this for firewood.
‘Okay, we swim here.’
‘Yes, this is a good spot to swim.’
It is a good spot – a wide bend in the river away from the overhanging jungle and a weak current underneath.
A toucan is perched on a branch high overhead and parrots screech as they glide across the blue sky. Out in the sun it’s hot; a sticky and humid tropical heat that makes the brown river water appealing. I just can’t help but think about the piranhas we were just catching upstream and the snakes that had been spotted in the thick mud on the banks. As far as I’m aware piranhas use their sharp, pointy teeth to eat the flesh of any living creature in the water. By fishing them we have proven they exist, and are possibly pissed off.