Taken from 'Diving in Honduras' published in Global Adventure magazine
"Ok first things first! We are, under no circumstances, allowed to mention the
word Shark throughout the duration of this dive course, is that understood?"
Our instructor then described all the unimaginable
deaths that would await us in the ocean if we did not
pay attention- exploding lungs, imploding eardrums,
the bends, nitrogen narcosis, going too deep and turning
the air in our scuba tanks into deadly poison. It all
sounded such fun, we could hardly wait to get into
the water and expire in some bizarre fashion.
My bowels feel heavy; I am nearly touching cloth as
a friend most elegantly put it after dining on a dodgy
prawn curry in Calcutta.
"Don't look down" a voice from behind me shouts- and so, of course,
I look down.
And in that instance I make my final decision; I'm
not going to jump. By the time I turn away from the
ledge of terror, I find to my great relief that I have
already come to terms with my spinelessness.
Taken from 'Hard life makes smart monkeys' published in BBC Wildlife Magazine.
The troop was wound up tighter than watch springs;
stiff postures and gaping grimaces indicating that
this was no lighthearted game they were playing. Like
boxers in a ring, the most audacious of the males took
it in turns to wear down the female raccoon with lunges
Eventually, stamina drained through constant harassment,
she slipped and fell with a dull thud upon the forest
floor- just what the monkeys had been waiting for.
In a flurry of movement the untidy nest joined her
upon the ground- minus the three pups within. Her best
efforts to get them back were to no avail, for a raccoon
does not have at its disposal a set of opposable digits
or a prehensile tail, and hence, the drama ended with
the inevitable crunching of bones, and the pitter-patter
of blood upon the forest floor.
Capuchins have been described as the world's third most intelligent primate
following close on the cerebral heels of humans and chimps, a grand stature indeed
for such a tiny monkey, but a reputation well deserved, for the behavior that
governs their lives, the cruelty and compassion, reflects very closely indeed
the very same characteristics that we ourselves use to define our own lofty intelligence.
Taken from 'midnight at the oasis' published in BBC Wildlife Magazine
At three in the morning I was rudely awoken by someone or something opening
and closing doors around the house. I lay in my bed; eyes open to the darkness
thinking terrible thoughts about turtle egg poachers armed with sharp machetes.
I was scared, very, very scared!
A further five minutes of paralysing fear passed until
I was able to pluck up enough courage to slip out from
under the sheets, arm myself with a blunt table knife
and confront whoever it was making all that noise.
Silently I stepped out from the house and shone the
light beam from my torch towards the origin of the
noises. All the lavatory doors were open, and poking
out from the third stall was a very large rear end,
not belonging to a sneaky poacher, but to a very fat
The lukewarm water was a cobalt blue, as transparent
as newly polished glass. Sun rays pierced through the
surface, casting fractals across the smooth skinned
dolphins below. They circled me slowly; satisfying
their curiosity as to what I might possibly be.
They smiled, as dolphins always do; they can't help
it, their faces are fixed with an expression of permanent
They clicked and squeaked, probing us with sophisticated radar, all the while
smiling those enigmatic smiles of theirs.
I was smiling too; a facial expression that has no
practical value under the sea. Water gushed into my
mouth causing me to splutter and choke. The dolphins
kept on smirking at me; sharing a joke perhaps at my
inadequacies within their briny domain.
"Hey Gringo, Did you know that licking a toad cures depression?" said
the unshaven man sitting next to me on the bus.
He had obviously noticed I was down in the dumps, and
he, being an evidentially jovial (or possibly drunk)
character had risen to the challenge of cheering me
"Yes it's true" the man continued "But there is one teeny little
"And what would that be?" I asked, intrigued by this unusual conversation.
"Well, when you stop licking, the toad gets depressed again" and with
that he burst into a fit of ear splitting laughter that turned heads and hurt
Taken from 'A monks tale' Published in Asahi weekly
I could only conclude that the seal was dead. I had
informed many tourists often enough on the plight of
the monk seals in these waters. How fishermen waged
war against them, shooting them on sight or dynamiting
their breeding caves.
Now, here I was, looking sadly
down at the evidence, killed illegally and then stashed
in an underwater cave to avoid discovery.
Positioning myself towards its head at the back of
the cave I reached out and gently touched its snout.
It was as my hand made contact that the seal's eyes
Taken from 'Osa the last wilderness frontier' Published in Global Magazine.
A scarlet macaw is probably the world's most handsome
bird; nature's rainbow, decked in finery fit for a
carnival. There were a dozen of them up above, jostling
noisily amongst the branches, singing their little
hearts out. And oh what songs they sang; an onslaught
of sound utterly at odds with their stunning good looks.
This ear splitting cacophony, capable of rousing the
dead and giving headaches to the hard of hearing, had
been my early morning alarm clock for the previous
seven days, and as a result, I had acquired a rather
large bag under each one of my eyes.
It was 4:30a.m and as usual, I was very much awake..
Taken from 'The Enchanted isles' Published in Global Magazine.
I have always been rather fond of boobies; lovely things
that they are.
I saw my first pair on a television program at an impressionable
young age and fell in love instantly, vowing that when,
and if, I [eventually] grew up I should like to see
as many as possible.
It is a well known fact that a young man, wishing to
fulfill such a fantasy, should look no further than
the exotic and far flung Galapagos archipelago, a place
unlike any other where boobies can be seen in abundance.
A stroll along the golden sands will reward the enthusiast
with sightings of hundreds, if not thousands of pairs,
fully exposed, just begging, it would seem, to be touched,
fondled and photographed.
So here I am now, lying on my belly, partially concealed
in a bush, with my trusty zoom lens targeted on a gorgeous
pair just three meters away. It's such a thrill to
finally see my very favorite bird.
Taken from 'The windiest lake' published in Costa Rica outdoor magazine
"Now, once more, space your feet a little
further apart this time and angle the sail away from
The wind surfing instructor remains astoundingly calm
in the face of utter incompetence.
Time and time again I prove incapable of following
I have fallen off twenty nine times in less than half
an hour and have so far managed to travel forty-two
inches from the shoreline. Considering my lack of water
sport skills, I feel that this is quite an achievement
but I don't think the Instructor would agree. However,
throughout the entire ordeal he retains the tranquil
demeanor of a man used to dealing with useless novices.
He has a kindness and a diplomatic deportment which
I find both encouraging and touching.
Taken from 'jewels in the sky' published in Nature landings.
A golden scimitar of sun seared away the clouds revealing
a brilliant blue sky above. It was a welcome change
Swirling phantoms of steam danced amongst the trees;
and the damp leafy earth smoldered as if on fire; it
all smelt so very wonderful; musty and alive.
Scores of lovely little humming birds zipped erratically
amongst the wispy vapors, animated by the sudden appearance
of light and warmth.