Tuesday, February 20, 2007


When your childhood memories include this remark, "As a young boy, I was beaten a lot by my parents and schoolmasters. This no doubt contributed greatly to my ability to ignore pain and endure...", you know you're dealing with someone who places life's experiences in a different drawer than most of us.

Martin Strel, born in Slovenia of human parents but now some sort of reverse-Darwinian sea/water creature, has tackled another project. Why not swim the full length of the Amazon? No problem. If you've swam the full length of the Yangtze, the Mississippi, and the Danube, among others, what's the short (3,375 miles) Amazon to get all excited about?

red-bellied piranha, crocodiles, stingrays, bull sharks and snakes of all shapes and sizes that could keep one quite excited.

Then, there's the tiny and infamous toothpick fish, or candiru (which is known as the "vampire of Brazil", the candiru is a tiny parasite-like creature that finds its host through the tiniest of body orifices, the urinary tract being its favorite. There it attaches itself to the unfortunate host's inner tissues and can only be removed by surgery).

I'd be swimming in a lead suit, which would make the journey an eternal one, but at least a safe one.

You can track his progress and his living/dead status here. The link to this site was provided by the excellent Piran Cafe, a site to visit on occassion.


I think it's great that Martin is attempting this feat. It sounds like this is really dangerous but I'm sure he'll make it.

On another note, I wonder if he still requires his one bottle of Cviček a day...I remember from this BBC article from when he swam the Mississippi River that he "... compliments his training with local red wine..." and he has "... to have a bottle a day". They had to take at least 70 bottles to the USA.
"there's red-bellied piranha, crocodiles, stingrays, bull sharks and snakes..."

You left out drug cartels. ;-)

And fierce tribal warriors.

And extreme death spiraling whirlpools (ever read Running the Amazon, by Joe Kane, an amazing story of a kayaking trip from the mouth of the Amazon to the sea?).

This guys got hutzpah!
Favorite "toothpick fish" tale came from an explorer/traveler with the unlikely name of Redmond O'Hanlon, who was told of the fish by his cackling guide. He didn't believe the tale, he says, but since his morning toilette usually involved wading into the Amazon and, er, warming it up, he took to wearing a tea strainer from that point onwards.

His travel-down-the-Amazon book was really pretty good.
A tea strainer is of no use, the only defense is to pee NOWHERE near the river, because the fish swims up your pee to the meatus in the time it takes you to pee!
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