I know it's been a while since I have written a blog, but that's mostly because I have not been doing anything exciting recently. I had to run to the city twice, which is always an annoying adventure, and when I wasn't in transit I was in the community doing interviews. Right now the Sucusari River is extremely low and dry, but there seems to have been quite a bit of rain in the headwaters because a few days ago it started to run rapidly. It isn't growing necessarily, but it is running fast enough to be somewhat dangerous. People were excited that the river was running for one main reason: catfish.
There are three main ways the Maijuna fish, based on what type of fish you're looking to catch. The first is to put out a net, typically on a turn in the river with some sticks and trees. Nets are used to catch all types of fish, but three in particular, the palometta, paco, and sabalo seem to be the prized catches. Nets of different mesh sizes are used for different fish types. Some nets are small and catch smaller fish which can then be used as bait.
The second type is with a hook and line tied to a rod made from a particular type of tree sapling. The sapling is extremely strong and flexible, just like the fishing rods in the US, and can be used to catch fish that weight several kilos. This is the main way to catch piranhas and other fish in the piranha family, depending on the type of bait that you use. You can use fish parts, leftovers from killed animals, and sometimes even small fruits and flowers as lures. The technique is the same: when you feel a nibble, yank the rod!
The third type of fishing is reserved for catfish. Two sticks are placed in the mud along the river bank in shallow water, and a line tied between them. In intervals along the line hang smaller lines with big hooks. Fishermen bait these hooks with small fish that are still alive, so that they get hooked then try to swim, thrashing about in the water and causing a lot of commotion. Catfish eat those smaller fish and get hooked on the big hook themselves. When the river runs quickly like it is now, the sediment on the bottom of the river is stirred up and the catfish cannot see the hooks very well so they are extremely susceptible. The result is that every fisherman is pulling up ENORMOUS catfish and giving away and selling the meat. I bought a huge one, a doncella, from Ulderico four days ago and another huge one yesterday from Jairo, a sungaro tigre. I have made grilled fish, fried fish, fish and chips, fish salad, fisherman's soup, ceviche, and many more dishes so far. Hopefully when I head back later today I'll find someone with another catfish and we'll be golden again! Teodoro's daughter brought over a huge bucket of tomatoes to sell yesterday and I bought them all... so today might be a bit more ceviche if I can find a fish that's still living. Exciting stuff to look forward to!