So last week came this tragic tale of a female kayaker who was murdered while canoeing along the Amazon River. Of course, there’s a lot more to this story than meets the tale, because sentient human beings (of which she is no more, and probably wasn’t then either), would ask questions about this foolhardy venture, such as, “Why was she doing this alone?” and “Why didn’t she listen to the warnings?“, as evidenced by this:

The 43-year-old was specifically warned about the danger of the water she was about to go through but insisted on sticking to her schedule as she was “losing time”.
In her last known conversation, the 43-year-old said she felt she had no choice but to carry on in order to complete her 4,000 odyssey from the Amazon source to the sea.
Tragically, her bravery and determination led her straight into the path of cold blooded killers who shot and stabbed her in her tent.
Shortly before her death — stunned that a foreign female canoeist was heading alone towards pirate territory — residents of a riverine community called her over as she passed by.

So let me see if I got this straight: this moron had created a self-imposed deadline or timeline for an already-dangerous venture, and then decided to ignore warnings and carry on.

If a man was trying to set a record by driving between, say, Chicago and St. Louis, was told that an ice storm had passed through Illinois, but decided to press on an drive at speed along the icy I-55 and then crashed and died, would we call his actions “brave and determined”, as some are calling the Amazonian kayaker? We’d call him a bloody fool, because he was, and so was Emma Kelty.

Here’s why I’m so dismissive of this tragedy on the Amazon: it was self-imposed and unnecessary. It’s like taking a shortcut through New York’s Central Park at 2am so you won’t miss a Gilligan’s Island rerun on your hotel room TV.

But enough analogies. Many years ago, a group of European tourists went on a “nature safari” in Botswana, during which they would “experience nature” or some such bollocks. You can guess what happened next. A lion came into the tent where a woman was sleeping, killed her instantly by crushing her skull in its jaws, then carried her off to finish his little gourmet meal in private. Well, there’s an experience in nature, isn’t it?

For all foolhardy adventures of this type, I have only two things to say: What the fuck were you thinking? and Mother Nature in the raw is an ice-cold bitch. Don’t even get me started about the folly of putting yourself in harm’s way without the proper means of self-protection.

And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter, because one should not spend too much time moaning about such tragedies, when people bring them on themselves by their arrogant stupidity.


  1. Completely agree. Years back there was a very young child who was trying to be the youngest pilot to fly coast to coast. At some point the adults decided the schedule was more important than the weather and they took off in a Cesna in the midst of a storm, with entirely predictable results. The parents of course said she died doing what she loved. As a relatively new parent at the time, I said bullshit. She was 7 . It was the parents responsibility to say no. But like you said, it doesn’t pay to spend too long thinking on such idiots. Except for where a child dies. The parents should have been incarcerated or sterilized.

    1. “The parents should have been incarcerated or sterilized.”

      To quote the InstaProf: embrace the healing power of “and”.

  2. Even where I live in suburban NJ I see people who have no business being off the pavement, I’ve seen people trying to pet wild raccoons and possum, even deer, and I’ve heard of people trying to pet black bear. Yes, we have all those animals, and no I’m not in the wilds of north-west NJ, I live a short drive from Paramus, the mall capital of the US. Hint, if a raccoon or possum is out during the day, and it lets you get anywhere NEAR you, it’s quite probably rabid. For some reason most adults seem to know to leave skunks alone, go figure.

    The wilds of South America or Africa can kill you even before you add the human element. Hell, the wilder parts of the US can kill you deader than canned tuna. By that I mean Wyoming or Montana, not Detroit although that can kill you too.

  3. While in this particular instance it sounds like she was, in fact, an idiot– it’s easy to paint with too broad a brush when concerning those who have died attempting to do exceptional things. Is kayaking the Amazon particularly exceptional or inspiring? Well, not to me, but your mileage may vary. What about climbing K2? Freediving? Driving a race car? All of these things make it particularly easy to expire, often in a manner that is far from pleasant, but quite a lot of people tend to do them for a litany of reasons, and I wouldn’t go so far as to call them all idiots.

    Where this chick erred was in not learning the circumstances of the various areas along the route, and not buying a nice well-worn AK to accompany her through the more festive locales.

  4. Normally I’d just chalk it up to “Evolution in Action”, but this story has no mention of husband or children. I suspect she was an empowered woman who didn’t need a man to tie her down with a burdensome family.

    Feminism is death.

  5. Tristan Jones logged tens of thousands of miles as sailing lone-handed. He quoted a statement to the effect that a successful adventurer combines the personalities of a poet and an accountant. The poetic side provides the inspiration that gets one to go adventuring. The accounting side provides the attention to detail that enables one to survive.

  6. We all take stupid risks, make stupid decisions, don’t be too hard on her, God knows I’ve done stuff nearly as stupid and I’m alive by luck not prudence.

    Time to have a few beers and ride my motorbike as fast as I can.

  7. Sorry.
    Zero sympathy.
    The “money” quote…
    “…behind Emma’s Facebook post just days before she died: ‘So in or near coari (100km away) i will have my boat stolen and i will be killed too. Nice.'”

    Not only was she aware.
    Not only was she repeatedly warned.
    She was convinced that it was a joke.

    Well…hows that Western Liberal “denial of reality” working out for her?

    1. Every once in a while, stupidity gets redeemed. I remember an especially uplifting story about a group mountaineering in one of the Stans. Predictably, they were kidnapped by terrorists. At one point, the terrorists left one guard to mind the prisoners while the rest went off to do some other terrorism. They jumped the guard and tossed him off a 1000′ cliff.

Comments are closed.