Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm Gonna Go and Eat Worms!

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!


Julia_1984 said...

many people have told you before so I think you are kind of forced now to write a book about all these things, missionaries or not, christians or not; we all look foward for the window to an unknown world and you are one of the very few ones who can provide such a window. I'm writting a book myself, a little bit like the blog but more things has changed and how different my childhood was compared to this whole madness! Well good luck and about the comment you left in my blog... yes.. I know!

redneck preacher said...

So did you catch any fish with your edible worms? I am going to print this story and pass it out at the service tonight.

Very good.


Michael said...

Those sound like some seriously large worms.

It's at time like this, that I'm glad I keep kosher...

(Sorry, I'd've starved in the Amazon!)

The Merry Widow said...

Nanc is going to have to tell you about Nancpop(her hubby) and how he eats grubs, offers them to her...and the answer she gives. I WILL NOT ruin the surprise! LOL!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


Anonymous said...

Is this a repost? I remembered a post like this before.But today...too funny, I sat down at the table to read some blogs with breakfast, and I saw the title and quickly exited the worms with breakfast for me.

Although when I was a kid I read a book called How to Eat Fried Worms. Pretty enlightening!!

Still, not something that I could do today!!!

Oops not logged on
Pen of Jen

Bar Kochba said...

No offense but that sounds gross ;) I'd have just ordered a pizza...

WomanHonorThyself said...

ughhhhhhhhh....gee Rita I lost my appetite for lunch..LOL..great post girl!!

Brooke said...

Oh, YUCK!!!

I don't think I could ever get to that point!

Pam said...

I LOVE this story! My "prissy Sissy" in the jungle, pulling out big ol' fat squiggly worms! Then having them offered to her for food - makes me laugh so hard! I can also imagine you PRETENDING to be fishing!! LOL Had you ever been fishing before?

I'm so glad you had a photo of the worms to share with all, a great word picture!

FeathersMcGraw said...

Wow JM, you really walk the walk my dear... I also would starve at the Jungle, like Mike, ha ha. Question, did you ever ate Tarantulas? I saw a documentary when I was in elementary school about some Yanomami eating grilled Tarantulas that haunted me ever since. I was so shocked!

Joe Gringo said...

Like I've said should write a book!

I am so glad I married into a different culture...Méxican....I've learned a lot......and have eaten a lot things I never even had thought about! If I was there, I'd try 'em.

You have great stuff to post.

Caraqueña said...


Pam said...

Rita, we had sone New Tribe missionaries visit our church last night. Winn and Joel Hartman. They live in Brazil near the river and border of Venezuela working with the Yanomamis. The 3 teens came up and sang with their mom and dad. Such amazing family harmony! They first sang in English, then Portuguese, then in the Yanoma language. It was beautiful!
I thought of your precious friends living there in Chajudaana. I thought how you all were so much a part of their lives and how much they were a part of yours. Needless to say, I became quite emotional. My heart hurts for you and for them. I know they recieved so much of the Word and pray they continue to walk in the paths of the Savior and continue telling others.

Dawn said...

I thought for a long time that I was called to be a missionary. I think the Lord realized I would have been a miserable failure at such things as this! What a great story. My cousins used to bring grasshoppers in for my grandma to fry when they were home on furlough, but that's about as weird as it got.

Abouna said...

This story reminded me of a song the boys in the Scout Troop I was scout master of, would sing on camp outs:

"Kai yai Kai yaikus, nobody likes us, guess we'll some worms. Little bitty mushy ones, great big gushy ones. We bite off the heads, suck out the guts and throw the skins away."

Not a very appetizing song.

When I was in Vietnam, I had to eat a lot of strange things, but the Vietnamese had a way of making things delicious, and when you are hungry, it really doesn't matter.

nanc said...


tmw already told you a portion of my bug story - nancpop will dig up or pull out of wood, some of the biggest grubs you've ever seen and offer them to me (as he squeezes them out of their skin) and i say, "no thank you." and he asks, "what kind of indian are you?!?" and i respond, "not that kind of indian..."

so, he eats them all and tells me, "you will eat them one day." and i tell him, "i'll eat the bark off a tree first!"

he also says i'll eat squirrel and carp before it's all over - no thanks, i'll dry my sassafras, mullein, cherries and wild possum grapes first.

i have eaten most everything else - raw oysters, snail, octopus, to name a few.

nanc said...

p.s. - also, it is a very good idea to eat ONLY when hungry.

The Merry Widow said...

Nanc-You know what Euell Gibbons used to say, "Tastes just like chicken."! LOL!
That story always cracks me up.
I drew the line at squid and octapus, I have had raw oysters, snails...but I also balked at fried ants.
Nancpop is a guy, and grubs are a "guy" thing!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


Jungle Mom said...

Jen, yes, a re post.

Feather's, I never ate tarantula, but I have seen the indians eta them.

TMW and nanc, Thanks for the story. I loved it! nanc, I am wondering what tribe you are? I have eaten grubs in the jungle, but fried grubs. They taste more like bacon than chicken that way!

nanc said...

oglala sioux and irish.

i love squid and octopus!

i have the greatest recipe for octopus. it's a great party appetizer, especially when everyone takes the cleaned suction cups from the tentacles and sticks them all over their faces!

Jungle Mom said...

nanc, my great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee. My grand father Irish.

nanc said...

i have custers on one side and sitting bulls on the other!

well, so to speak...

Julie's Jewels said...

Ew!! I'm sure it is something to be gotten used to but Ew! I just don't know about that one. My daughter has a movie "How To Eat Fried Worms" about a boy who is dared by some neighborhood boys to eat ten worms. It grosses me out just to watch that movie. They eat them all kinds of ways in that movie. Yuck!!

Mountain Mama said...

I can't imagine being in a situation like that, but you handled it well. I also can't imagine that you were able to eat those things after a while. Mercy! Did you eat them because you were hungry or to please the natives?