Some dangers are so surprising, they become funny. Let’s see if you can guess this one, spotted during my teacher tour in India last year. The scene takes place at the Jama Masjid mosque in the town of Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, the city most famous for housing the Taj Mahal.
The Jama Masjid mosque is gorgeous and giant, and was completed in 1575… over 430 years ago! So what’s the danger here? Falling stones? Tripping hazards? Lightning? Nope… Let’s keep walking across the expansive courtyard to the arch towering at the far side. But remember, because this is a mosque, your shoes must be off! (That is a hint…)
At the back of the mosque, steep stone stairs lead from the town up to a massive, ornately carved arch entrance. Now, look carefully at the next photo, displaying this entrance. Do you see the danger lurking? (No, it’s not my husband’s treacherously handsome face in the lower right corner, though that is a valid answer.)
Did you see it? The arches are studded with dozens of big, fat wasps’ nests!!!! As a result, the ground for hundreds of square feet below is littered with dead, dying, or simply reclining waspities, just waiting to pierce the unshod foot of an unsuspecting visitor. YIPES!
Needless to say, the archway was still swarming (forgive the punny word choice) with tourists and locals in naked feet. Inches from the wasp carpet, I took this photo, below, of two serene siblings looking out on the colorful town beyond.
Our teacher group painstakingly tiptoed around the wasps and back through the arch into the courtyard, breathing a sigh of relief once the danger had been surmounted. Who would have thought that a historic tourist attraction could pose such a threat to our innocent little toes?
Luckily, the danger at this stately site is easily avoidable if you know where to look, and the beauty and importance of the mosque make up for any worries. I wonder, though: is this wasp nest situation a common phenomenon? Do old-time arches frequently hold sizable insect homes, or other creepy crawlies? Readers, what have YOU seen of this topic in your world travels? Do share.
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