My only near death experience was on a boat, a tiny little jolly boat. It happened when a friend from New York and I went to visit Canela Island on the coast of Belem, near the mouth of the Amazon River.
I had thrilled at Canela Island before with the arrival of some 10.000 Scarlet Ibises that nest and shelter there and I was excited to contemplate it again.
The original plan was to do the 50 miles of open sea in two and a half hours, observe the spectacular avifauna, photograph and only return to Belem on the next day.
Limited options made us choose B/M Garoto(boy) a miniscule fishing boat with a crew formed by three young married men.
We got on board and left; we had loaded her with some packs of biscuits, water and wherever you can find in a small village that you can still feel alone as a tourist.
I can't remember any incident that may have taken place between the moment we set sail and the arrival at Canela.
The bird show had been spectacular with big flocks of Scarlet Ibis flying over head dropping the curtain.
Before setting camp we did not disagree much about the value of a cold beer in a nice bar and other pirate things and Bill decided to ask:
-Do you think we can return to Belem in time?
-I was born one thousand kilometers from the Atlantic where tides have no meaning, let me check with the crew.
I said to Bill leaving the decision in the other six hands that answered positive without showing any sign of hesitation.
Soon after we started heading back to the coast B/M Garoto's propeller had been lost; a huge storm was forming and we learnt that her anchor literally floated on the scary waves.
This time was God's time to decide and He had not much time to ponder.
Holding tight and working on my balance I spit my last joke.
-Bill, changing plans again! We are not going to a bar, we gonna fucking die!
He agreed without smiling and I noticed one member of our crew crying in despair while assisting his other friend severely vomiting of seasickness.
Without much to do on the helm, the captain was at working on the water pump like he was punching his worst enemy's face on the ground.
The bonanza took a light year to come and it came with a fantastic Atlantic phytoplankton show bringing into my mind a cloud of fireflies in the floodplain.
Extremely exhausted and without much to do in deep dark waters we played plan A and felt asleep.
From On the River
Dedicated to Kapul