Rest days on Breu Island – accidental hunting trip. caught a stingray.
Breu Island. Pull up to land where there are many dolphins. small shiney eyed old man and grandson come down to the port. Old man plays merry guitar but its cut short because mosquitos swarm and sting. Many horseflies too during the day which hurt. These guys have an island to themselves separate from the community downstream, beautiful peaceful place (apart from the bugs.) Man tells us we have to follow the river on the right side from now on. On the left theres a huge whirlpool that spins you round and round and sucks you up. There’s a monster upside down with its head under the water that sometimes swivels upright and eats the passing canoes. From here on practically all communities are on the right side. We wonder if the left bank is dedicated to cocaine manufacture.
Stay at Breu island. Nina goes looking for eggs in the morning. She goes with the old man rowing in the canoe and asks the entire community downstream for eggs and no-one has them. Then the old man decides they should buy a chicken, and they go round the entire community asking for a chicken, but no-one wants to sell. Nina comes back hungry and pissed. Meanwhile I wash plastic and clothes.
I go fishing with the old man and his son. He has a tarrafa. Thats a net with a bundle of weights on the end. You throw the net in with the weights in a perfect circle, then haul it up and the weights converge and close the net and hopefully you’ve got fish inside. Catch four or five little ones. We also float the fishing net downstream opened up between the boat and a plastic bottle but don’t catch anything.
That afternoon Nina accidentally goes on a four hour hunting trip. I thought the old man said his grandson was going to shoot a turkey, a pavo, there are many turkeys around the house. But he didn’t say ‘pavo’ but the name of an obscure forest bird. They go machetying through mangled forest for 4 hours. Nina comes back pissed. Not a restful day. Very pissed now, what with the egg hunt that morning and now the accidental hunting trip.
We eat more fish soup with farinia. These guys hardly eat, just a little fish with farninia, and in the morning farinia drink with sugar. They are very minimalist. The old man stands up from his fish soup meal, content, and says ‘what more do you need?’
We stay one more day to catch some fish for the road. Check net. We’ve caught a stingray and 4 or five other fish. There’s a very big fish that looks like a monster. The stingray is round and brown and its edges frill up and stir and splash the water. Decide not to repeatedly bash fish over the head because they don’t die very quick and their gills seep blood. Don’t know what to do with the ray, it is very tangled. Then the old man comes up in his canoe with his dogs and rifle, paddling with a stick (not ore) with a cup of farinia beside him for breakfast. He’s going hunting for that forest bird. He cuts the tail off the ray with a machete. We untangle it. It has a human like, oval mouth on its underside. We gut the fish. Use the guts to fish more fish. Go back to house and salt fish and make fish soup porridge with big fish.
Stingray is not a traditional Amazon food and no-one knows how to prepare it. I try to gut it but it seems like there are many intestines and little meat and its bowels are overflowing and it stinks and I can’t make the soup. We throw the body back to the water. The next morning the old man throws a turkey corpse to the river. It caught itself in the fishing net that was bundled on the floor and died.
Paddle down to the community and get cigarette and soda fix. We see three kayaking gringos! They are strange muscular white pink chests atop red plastic cacoons. They power downstream with determined flushed faces and wrist swivels. They are mythical river creatures.
Back at the house. The young man talks loudly and anguishedly to the old man about his woman troubles as a storm brews and everyones lain on their respective parts of floor in the empty wood house that only has some walls (normal.) The girl he wants is with another guy. He wants to go into the forest and work on the coca fields and not languish here. These guys work on coca leaf plantations. There are many coca leaf plantations up to the columbian border. Lots of cocaine production in this part of the Amazon.
Posted on August 23, 2014, in On the river, Preparation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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