Return to Collection
Next Photograph


The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

Stretching around the equatorial girth of the planet in a broad green belt are the earth's tropical rain forests, nine million square miles of what certainly must be original creation. The greatest assemblage of biodiversity anywhere. Nearly half of all known terrestrial species are found in this impenetrable jungle, and there are millions more gene pools just waiting to be discovered there.

No place in the world has spawned more legend, amplified recently by the internet, than the "jungle." We've all heard of the flesh eating piranha. But rivaling the piranha for title of most fearsome jungle creature is candiru, the tiny "catfish from hell." For 200 years tales have been told of this skinny vampire fish swimming up the urethra of humans who dare to urinate while in Amazon waters. Once inside, so we are told, the fish anchors itself with spines, sucks blood, and even gnaws tissue, resulting in excruciating pain. All of this can lead to bladder laceration and hemorrhage, penis amputation, even death. This exquisitely horrifying scenario, the product of two centuries of tall tale embellishment, blends our fear of the jungle and loathing of parasites to yield a nightmare arguably worse than piranha attack, snake bite, or malaria. But how many documented cases of candiru have been reported in all this time? Zero!

On the other hand much of the wonder and mystery of the rain forest is well documented. There's the longest and widest river in the world (the Amazon), with pink sunsets and dolphins to match. There are big cats in Amazonia, great apes in Borneo, and giant flesh-eating flowers in Sumatra. A butterfly in New Guinea has a twelve inch wingspan, bigger than many birds. There are flying squirrels and howling monkeys. Spiders eat birds, ants cut leaves, and fish squirt water. Fig trees strangle other trees. There are tiny frogs with poison and giant snakes without. A species of fish eats people and one of sharks eats plants. Yikes.


The rain forest is truly a magical place, a fairy tale that is real. To walk into its palpable presence is to come alive with all the senses. This is the Garden of Eden, the world as it was bequeathed, the most complex and beautiful corner of the known universe. Whether it's a spider's web bejeweled with morning dew, the flick of a lizard's tongue, a snake swallowing a snake, or a monkey crashing through the canopy, there is always something to enchant.

© Danny Kimberlin 2015