"Don't touch that tree." warned my guide Nelly as I gingerly took steps along the muddy path.
"What's wrong with the tree?" I inquired. Her one word answer would send a chill down my spine.
Duly noted. On my last trip to the amazon jungle I had been bitten by a piranha and had absolutely no desire to add fireants to the list. Step by step as we made our way through the jungle trails, I always did my best to adhere to the words of my guide on our hikes. One vivid memory that sticks in my mind is when my guide suddenly stepped in front of me and began pressing her boot against the mud as if she were testing it. Nelly then looked up at me and gave me some simple instructions.
"Try to step where I step." She indicated to me that where she left bootprints in the mud, I ought to step exactly in those prints. Truthfully, it was easier said than done. With the ground being uneven, it made it challenging to aim to step exactly where she had stepped. At one point I took a step that was close-ish to where she had left her prints. Within a second I found myself knee high being swallowed alive by the jaws of the greedy mud.
Every single minute of every hour in the jungle there is an ongoing struggle between predator and prey in the battle of life, death and survival. For a few terrifying seconds I got a taste of what it was like as my leg thrashed and fought against the mud the way a fish fights to free itself from the talons of a bird that had just swooped it right out of the water. The tug of war lasted a few moments more before the mud reluctantly relented and my leg came free. After brushing myself off and making plans for a shower, the hike continued without further adieu.