When we first arrived in the village we did everything possible to befriend the Indians. We could not speak their language, and very few of them spoke Spanish ,so this meant spending time with them. Observing, imitating, and learning.
One morning, a group of women showed up at our house. They were all very excited and kept pointing at me and reaching for my arm to pull me towards the river. My husband laughingly said, "Go ahead! It looks like a ladies day out!" So I went with them, where ever we were going!
At the river there was only one man as he was the Motorist for the outboard motor on the back of the dug out canoe. He looked very nervous to be a lone man among so many females. Funny how that is the same in all cultures! There were about 20 women all giggling and getting in and making room for others. The seats of an indian canoe are.... NOT made for the backside of most gringos! Rather narrow, often just a trimmed branch wedged in place.
I was caught up in the excitement of the ladies! Lots of giggling . They tried to explain what we were doing and where we are going. I caught about .01% of what they were saying. I saw a few hand made fishing poles and figured that we were going to a new fishing hole.
After about two hours and a couple of rapids we arrived at the end of the Chajura River. There is a beautiful waterfall there at the mouth of the Majawa River.
I wish we would have had a digital camera at the time so I could show you. We missed a lot of great shots because we tried to be considerate of the Indians and did not want to go around taking pictures all the time. Unlike the anthropologist who consider them their objects or specimens for study, we as missionaries treat them as people with feelings and the right to privacy.
The canoe stopped and all the ladies jumped out, grabbed their buckets, shovels, machetes, whatever! No one grabbed the fishing poles so I did. The motorist left. He seemed relieved to leave all of us women.
The women had begun to dig into the river bank with their tools. I saw what they were digging for and thought ,"OH! BAIT!" They were digging up earth worms. I must explain something to you! If you have never seen an earthworm of the amazon, you have no idea! They are a grayish purple in color. They are FAT critters. About the width of your thumb! AND they are huge! Like 2-3 feet long! I figured , maybe 10 worms or so could be cut up to provide bait for all of us for the fishing we were planning to do. ER...the fishing I was planning. But these women had 5 gallon buckets and were filling them all.
It actually was fun to dig for worms. You dig into the mud and there you will see lots of squirming worms half hanging out. Then you grab on with both hands and pull. Pull, but don't break the worm! That would cause all the women to rush over and try and explain how to pull the worm out whole. So, I kept pulling worms and was getting pretty good at it. I was wondering why we needed so many worms when I looked over at a group of ladies on the bank.
They were getting out the indian hot sauce and cassava bread. "Oh , good, a lunch break!" I thought. Then I saw some of the women had been in the river washing the worms. Hmm... would the fish we caught with the bait really care if there was a little mud clinging to the worms?
One lady ran up the bank with a hand full of worms, still squiggling and grabbed cassava bread, smeared hot sauce on it and ...placed the worms in the bread, rolled it up, kinda like a tortilla wrap sandwich, and ...GULP!!! BIG BITE!!! Did I mention the worms were still squiggling?
Now every one ran up with their clean worms and I finally realized we were not going fishing! And I realized why we needed so much bait! And I realized, I did not want to eat worms!
What did I do? I kept digging for worms ! Then I took the fishing line and started to fish! I made sure to look very busy and happy at what I was doing! The women would come and offer me a handful of worms on cassava bread... but I would laugh and shake my head, and point to the fishing line. Thank goodness the motorist came back about then!
We took back about 30 gallons of worms and the whole village feasted on them.
Yes, there were times,
I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way.
In a few years, I would come to the point of being able to eat worms. I prefer them smoked over a fire though. They sort of taste like a Slim Jim and are a good snack. My youngest daughter would prefer to eat worms over chocolate chip cookies! She would take her cookies or brownies and go around and trade them for worms!