This is Daniel Cohkaxa. Daniel belongs to the indigenous Nuaraque tribe who live just west of Manaus in Brazil.
Daniel took me fishing for piranhas in his dugout canoe on one of the many tributaries that fan out like veins in this part of the Amazon Basin.
It was part of my big trip around the equator for my book, Going Around In Circles.
My reluctance to dip my hands in the water amused Daniel greatly.
Daniel had grown up swimming and skylarking in these waters.
I’d grown up watching old black and white movies where people crossing jungle rivers were turned into skeletons by a thrashing frenzy of fish in a matter of seconds.
Clearly, if I dangled my hand over the edge of the canoe I’d lose my fingers just as quickly.
The sad reality is that piranhas are less voracious than I’d been led to believe. The hooks on our fishing lines were loaded with chunks of bloody meat but we barely got a bite.
The paddle back to Daniel’s hut would prove more dangerous. The canoe sprung a leak and was sitting lower and lower in the water.
Daniel pointed to a group of caiman sitting on the opposite bank.
“It’s not the piranhas you have to worry about,” he said with a laugh. “It’s those guys.”