Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fish for Dinner

Yesterday, among other things, I had the penultimate writers group. It was very strange to sit in a room with people you are scheming with but saying nothing about it!
Anyway although we’d been given homework I was inspired by something else that Anne sent out about a travel writing scholarship – more info here.
I was inspired by - 'A Memorable Experience Involving Food in a Foreign Country'.

If I was in a city this would be silence, but in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest this is the hum of a busy jungle.
Flies buzz, mosquito’s whine, birds call to each other from the tree tops surrounding the ox bow lake and monkeys scream at each other far off.
I am sitting in a long wooden canoe made from a single tree.
Something plops into the water to my right, but I have no idea what; an anaconda or caiman maybe.
In the distance thunder rumbles. But we’ve been here for three weeks now and the constant thunder and heavy down pours are just a fact of life now.
Out on the water the flies don’t follow us and we enjoy the luxury of having nothing trying to eat us.
There are six of us in this canoe and we try to sit as still as possible.
We are trying to catch piranhas and if we don’t we’ll be going hungry tonight.
I’ve never been fishing before. Not real fishing with a line and hook and bate, and I’m fully expecting to be one of the hungry ones.
Knowing there isn’t really much I can do to encourage the piranhas to bite I enjoy the calm of floating on the murky water. The rainforest is thick here and although I know the rest of the group are in those trees I can see nothing to give them away.
I have even dared to roll my sleeves up, so can feel a touch of breeze on my skin, a relief from the humidity of the forest.
Sudden movement behind me means someone thinks they’ve caught something. From here I can’t see it, but someone has dinner.
When my line pulls I think maybe I’ve snagged it on a dead branch under the water. But pulling it up I can see the sparkle of silver and before I know it I have a piranha on the canoe bottom in front of me.
It looks fierce and doesn’t want to be my dinner, but with a carefully placed welly boot and pen knife I stop its wiggerling.
I can’t believe I’ve caught a fish. And quite a big one too. It’s diamond shaped, about the size of my hand and it looks like some over enthusiastic kid has covered it in glitter.
With some instruction I manage to gut it and scale it and as it gets dark I put it on the camp fire with a selection of other fish.
While we wait for them to cook we sing songs in the dark, and I keep a careful eye on my dinner. The white fish is bony but with nothing else to eat, I’m not going to moan.
No one will go too hunger tonight; Alberto caught extra fish and made it look easy.

Suggestions were made on how to improve it, but everyone seemed to like the most of it. So I shall tinker a little before sending off for the 21st Dec.

(this is based on a trip I made to Ecuador in 2004)

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