Feral people—Brasil days 11,12,13

Day 11-

Awake in the Yucca farm and roast the salted fish. We spend all day rowing down a blustery channel. Then, joining back to the main river, we see an airplane taking off from a huge ship!! I think a giant griffin has hatched and is soaring towards us. This is because I have been in Peru too long where the most advanced technology is plastic. A sad slave to addiction, I make us row half the afternoon to the city to by cigarettes. The city is called Amatura. It is pretty going by, it has a nice blue church. It is evening by the time we are approaching and a speedboat hauls us up to a raft shop. Next door is a brand new raft with a porch where we can sleep for free. The shop keeper gives us gaseosa. We go up to the city and manage to furtively shower in a hotel. It’s Saturday night and there and noise and music and teenagers shrieking and we don’t sleep so good.

Day 12-

That morning Nina wanders out to the port and poos behind a log. Out in the forest we are normal but in the city we are like feral people. Then she moves around gathering sticks and debris to make a fire to asado fish. We cook rice and lentils on the fire. People think we are hilarious. This is a nice place, a nice city where people have city jobs and wear leather jackets. Here people do not go to the toilet outside wherever there is space and then build fires infront of the prominade to grill their fish. It starts to rain and everyone dashes for cover but I stay out to tend to the fish. I see Nina putting out the bucket to catch rainwater, her favourite activity.

That evening we dock at a beach, but we feel more secure in the forest so I use machete skills to hack through tall grass to reach the forest behind. once in the forest I pitch my tent and Nina hangs her hammock. We put the fishing net. We chuck it in half-arsed and tie one end to a log and the other end to the back of the boat, but before nightfall have already caught one fish, boca chico, which Nina salts while I groom the trail with the machete. Back in the forest we eat the remaining rice and beans as the mosquitos swarm in. We fan ourselves with a fan that Nina got from Thailand. It is an effective method to thwart the mozzies.

Day 13-

Dawn in the forest and I hear a motor out on the river so pack up quick and trek out to the beach. It’s some fishermen. During the night the log we tied the net to has floated downstream and wedged near the shore. I pick up the net to check and it absurd, a massacre, there must be 100 boca chicos in there. Nina runs to the fishermen and asks for salt but only gets a tiny bag. Some of the bigger fish are dead already because they choke faster. Some are even already rotten. We shouldn’t be leaving the net all night but with all the rowing we are too exhausted to check it every few hours like fishermen do. We spend a long time taking out all the fish. We keep boca chicos and there’s also a pirahna and I also find a tiny hard-shelled catfish which I throw back. Since we are low on salt we salt fish but sparingly.

The vultures gather round. They line the beach picking over the fish carcasses. As we clean out guts baby fish gather around the boat. We can’t put our hand in the water without being nibbled by tiny fish waiting for guts. I guess nothing is wasted here in the Amazon.

I gather sticks and chop down pieces of firewood then stand in the sun in a cloud of sandflies cooking the fish. They cook slow I have to rebuild the fire halfway. I also eat some fish sort of raw. Nina takes over and finishes off the grilling. Finally we are done.

That evening we pull up to an island. Baby gray dolphins leap out of the water and stand on their tails. By that evening the salted fish are rotten, we hadn’t had enough salt. The wiff of rot is depressing. We decide we can’t fish so frequently if we want to row further. We will give fishing a break, and next time be prepared with enough salt to preserve fish for a week. It is cool this evening so we both sleep in the tent at the edge of the forest.

salted fish on canoe

Only photo on Nina’s phone. Here’s the first Boca Chico we caught the evening prior, the only one successfully salted. It’s lying in the front of the canoe along with our gear. All the others have rotted or been eaten


Posted on October 26, 2014, in On the river. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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