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I Beat the WTFB Every Day!

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  • Paul DEVER
    My trip started out with a poor night of sleep. Probably in anticipation of a great trip, but who knows? I got up about 1 then 2 then 3 then 3:30 for the last
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2005
      My trip started out with a poor night of sleep. Probably in anticipation of
      a great trip, but who knows? I got up about 1 then 2 then 3 then 3:30 for
      the last time, got a quick glass of coffee and went downstairs to wait for
      the driver. I had already packed about four times so was ready to go about
      four days before the trip.

      I am in general paranoid about travel, always wanting to get there early to
      prevent any mishap. What if the car breaks down? What if there is a wreck?
      Or some other problem with the beginning of the trip? SO we got me to the
      airport early enough. I checked in and no one hassled me about checking in
      three bags. Excellent country.

      But there the simple part stops. The flight was delayed for an hour since
      the airport in Leticia was closed due to fog. So the flight that was to
      leave at 6:25, get me there by 8:25, then at the lodge before noon for some
      afternoon fishing was not to be. Then at 7:30 they delayed the flight
      again, then at 8:30 and 9:30 as well. Finally at 10:30 we boarded and hit
      the road�er the air�

      Got to Leticia on time, and Edgardo met me at the airport, and we went to
      the dock. Wow! Had it changed. What was a 20 foot walk to the dock was now
      a 100 foot walk, since the water has fallen about 15 or 20 feet since I was
      here last.

      Elidio and family were at the dock to greet me, or to go back to the lodge.
      Maybe they do not hang out there unless there are clients. In any case we
      had an uneventful three and a half hour ride to the site. Except there was
      a slight change. The drive rof the boat, Rodrigo was the guy whom was
      working at the lodge the first time I went, but he did not remember me,
      until I reminded him of the story he told me about the payara that sank his
      fangs into his foot, much like stepping on a nail when you are a kid.

      What had been the Amazon River at high level was no more. The water had
      fallen many many feet. About 25-30 that I could tell. Quite interesting.
      I recognized the places where we had caught all the sardinata before, but it
      was about 20 feet above us. You could discern the mouth of the (used to be)
      river, since ht was dried up, and that area had not turned into a bunch of

      So we off loaded our stuff: my thee bags and my orange PVC fishing rod tube,
      and all the food and such that we would be consuming over the next few days.
      We had to walk up the river bank, and of course I did my daily slip into
      the mud. I think on the last day I was mud free, but not the days in
      between. We went up the hill, then along a path, and down a hill�to a canoe
      or two awaiting us. AS impatient as I was, I pulled out a fishing rod and
      put a reel on it and started fishing. I got a few bites from the piranha
      but nothing stayed on. Then they got the motor to the canoe and we
      continued on our journey. We took about a 15 minute ride down the riverlet
      and saw a canoe with a couple of guys in it. They had peacock bass!!! All
      right, I might be successful then.

      We finally made it to the area in front of the lodge. I thought it was a
      back way to the lodge, but as we walked up the hill, along another pass,
      then down a hill, on a log or two then crossed a small run of water, we
      advanced to the front of the lodge. Amazing how much the water had fallen.
      I saw what now looked like a high bird viewing platform, which was formerly
      a partially submerged stand in front of the lodge the last time I was there.
      We stowed my gear, and I pulled out the lures from all over my bags (as I
      said, I am paranoid, so I had secreted lures in the rod tube, and all over
      my bags. Rodrigo, the boat captain I remember from the first Amazon trip
      was there and was amazed at my lure collection.

      We put them in order by size and he counted them. There were about a
      hundred lures. Plus some heavy line to go catfishing and a gaff that I had
      borrowed fm Tomas, my friend who took me to Tota. Elidio looked over the
      lures and pointed out what he thought might work. Most of them were small,
      but we put a few big ones in there as well.

      We had some dinner, discussed my goals and objectives: catch fish, and catch
      fish. Then nightfall came, sleep did as well, and we were up the next day.

      Saturday morning 27 August found me waking up before the WTF bird. I was
      happy. You take the little victories where you can�after breakfast we were
      by the river bank casting from shore and catching a few piranha. We got
      into the canoe and fished some more. A few more piranha and then we turned
      back. Had some breakfast. Sorry Sharon and Doc, I broke my diet. I was
      averaging two fried eggs, 2 pieces of toast, 2 arepas with cheese and a
      whole papaya for breakfast. But the flipside was that I was to burn most of
      that up walking to the various fishing sites.

      Elidio decided that we would go to San Antonio Lake that afternoon rather
      than wait till the next morning. So after lunch, we walked back to where
      the boat was and hopped in, and took it to the mouth of the river where we
      were last time, and got a couple of more helpers and went to the old mouth
      of the river where we had such good luck with sardinatas last time.

      The boys lugged the boat up the hill and took a leisurely 30 minute walk
      through the jungle. Actually, what other type of walk is there through a
      jungle with a canoe on your back, in which you have to chop parts of the way
      to get there? After a bit, we got it there, and Rodrigo and I fished off an
      aluminum canoe that belonged to The Palmery, another Amazon lodge. We got a
      few small bites, but not much more. Then they guys came with the motor and
      we hopped in and started fishing. I threw almost every lure that we had by
      the end of the day, and nothing worked. I think I got two fish that I
      reeled in but were not able to net, since I was teaching these guys how to
      net a fish. We stopped for a rest and escaped the heat a bit. Then we
      returned to fish, and started back about 5PM. Mistake�big mistake.

      I had not really calculated how much time it would take to return, and
      Elidio was concentrating on me catching fish and we had lost track of time.
      Once we got back to the part of the river where we had offloaded all the
      stuff the might before, we started hiking, but in the dark. Good thing that
      Elidio had on a pair of white pants that I could follow. In fact, I got a
      chance to use my peripheral vision, since looking directly at him, I saw
      nothing. At that time, I was thinking about the little light that Bob had
      given me and a Peter Frampton son �Show me the way� If only I had brought

      There was no moonlight at that time, so we were literally walking blind.
      Elidio was somehow able to see the way. Luckily. We encountered an old man
      and his two kids who were going to camp out that night and then somehow
      Elidio convinced the guy to let us use his headlamp. He was not using it

      We loaded all five of us on the canoe, and Julio, the boat guy managed to
      get us to the little off-ramp safely. Elidio guided us to the lodge
      effortlessly�for him. We were all dog tired, and ready for some liquid
      refreshment and food. Marta was already cooking for us, and we good some
      chow. It was fried dorado and rice and beans and cashew juice and some
      fruit. Delicious. I went through my whole bag, and lo and behold�there was
      Bob�s light. I had had it all the time, but I had thought it was on my
      camera bag, which I had left�silly me.

      We were thinking that that day had been an educational experience, seeing as
      how we did all that work and did not catch anything. I had a boss named
      Vyrle one time who taught me a lot. He was quite a positive man, preferring
      to find the good in everything. So here is the good: we learned that
      returning to San Antonio was probably not a good idea.

      28 Aug: The next day, Elidio took me down a path that was quite easy. Only
      one log bridge to cross. Now log bridge is an elaborate term for a log that
      is across the water. It had some poles in the water along either side to
      help the gringos. The log had a bit of moss that made it slippery, but I
      managed not to fall.

      We walked a short bit more and came up on a body of water that was a bit
      muddy that Elidio called Lake Cristina. But the fish were jumping. So I
      tossed a 3cm Rapala floater on the line and cast out. Got a hit! Reeled in
      a nasty looking fish that looked prehistoric and had teeth on its lips and a
      few more sets inside. I took it off with the Rapala pliers I had brought.
      More about those later.

      Elidio identified the fish as a �dormilon�, so called because it lies in
      wait breathing about one every five minutes or so, and when a curious fish
      thinks it is a log and tried to swim near it, he learns his last lesson in
      life: looks can be deceiving.

      We kept fishing there and before breakfast time we caught about 20:16 for me
      and 4 for Elidio. He was fishing with the rod and lures I left with him on
      my last trip. After breakfast we returned to Cristina to catch some more.
      We returned home for lunch, and waited for the rain to stop to return. More
      fishing there. Lots more caught, and we put them in corrals to retrieve
      them later, or for the other fishermen to get if they wanted.

      On 29 Aug, we returned to Cristina. There was too much algae there so we
      went to another lake nearby. We had to cross a small run of water, and of
      course I managed to not follow Elidio to a tee and slipped thigh deep into
      the mud. But I never lost my rod! I managed to extract myself much like
      you are supposed to do with quicksand�s-l-o-w-l-y�

      After a few more fish, Elidio suggested we go to Tortoise Lake. I said
      sure, but not realizing that it was an hour walk away. But it was mostly
      flat so it was fun. I slipped a few more time, and did not break any bones.
      Saw one tortoise. We were fishing from the bank. I managed to toss a big
      ole floating multicolored Rapala and as soon as it hit the water, POW! Went
      the peacock bass. A big ole one. He put up a good fight, and finally
      managed to wrap the line around a sunken log. So much for that lure and
      fish. I lost another two or so.

      Elidio asked to borrow one of the piranha I had caught and he went bait
      fishing. He ended up with an arawana. Another prehistoric looking fish
      that is one thick-to-thin fish that has no side fins, but rather one fin
      going along the profile of his body, and he goes side to side. I got a few
      barracuda and one sardinata. After fishing along the bank all day and not
      catching a peacock bass, I was beginning to get a case of sour grapes. You
      know the peacock bass is overrated anyway. It is much more fun to catch
      barracuda and dormilon.

      After a bit, we walked back to Cristina and fished a bit more. I finally
      landed a peacock bass. More like a basslet, since it was about 10 inches
      long and lightly colored due to the muddy water. But it was a peacock
      bass!!!!! My faith in the fishing world was restored.

      On the way home, I had spoken to Elidio about how nice it would be to get
      the canoe from San Antonio and bring it to Tortoise Lake. I offered a bonus
      to the boys via Elidio, since I knew it was a lot of work to get the canoe
      back from San Antonio, and then the one hour (probably two if you are
      carrying a canoe) trip to the other lake. No complaints from them. So we
      decided that the next morning I would see if I could walk to Cristina
      without getting lost, and the others would spend the whole day getting the
      canoe from the one lake to the other.

      On 30 Aug, the boys left for the other lake at about 5AM, and I had a
      leisurely breakfast at 7, and went to Cristina and did not get lost. I was
      fishing for dormilon, but ended up getting another peacock bass, a catfish,
      a suribim (called a tiger catfish since it is in the catfish family, but has
      a shovel blade shaped head and has tiger stripes of white and black on his
      grey-green body). This was then only time I broke Rule #! Of fishing: Look
      behind you before each cast! Anyone who say �Something About Mary� knows
      what I am talking about. No, not that but the time the goof gets snagged in
      his ear or face with a lure at the fishing dock. You never want to snag
      someone (or to get snagged!)

      The guys returned from San Antonio about lunchtime and them took a rest,
      then continued going to Tortoise Lake. By 5, they had not yet returned, but
      I was not too worried, since they had Elidio the expert guide and a
      flashlight this time. They finally arrived and we rested early for the big
      day. We turned after a big dinner of fried dorado, rice, red beans, and

      Aug 31: The next morning we got a breakfast by 8 and got to Tortoise Lake by
      9. In the boat, all day, I lost a pavon, and lots of barracuda, piranha,
      and a couple of dormilon. Once I threw a big old Leur Jensen woodchopper on
      the water with a smack like they say to, and a big arawana hit it, jumped
      out of the water so we all could see him, and then took the lure with him
      for a while, then spit it out of his mouth. After a while of getting no
      more bites from the big lures, I decided to retire them. Shame since they
      were quite expensive�maybe a reason to bid on Venezuela or Brasil.

      We stopped fishing a bit for some lunch which consisted of rice. It did
      because of a minor miscommunication. Marta had asked what I wanted for
      lunch and I said rice, thinking that we could cook up some rice and fish and
      eat it. Well, she got one of those Chinese stacking lunch bowl things that
      you can by in every country outside of the US, and filled them with rice and
      bread. So lunch was cold rice and bread, but we had juice so it was not too
      bad. Plus we had oranges and pineapple and such during the day. Never went
      hungry there.

      Just as we were getting out of the water to go home, it started to rain�no
      it started to pour, or shower, or storm, or something, but it was a windy
      rain not unlike a typhoon. They guys yelled at me to get behind a tree.
      Although I did not entirely understand why, I did it since they had never
      steered me wrong. I soon saw why. The rain was coming down in sheets
      towards us, not falling straight down, but at an angle. If you found the
      right tree, you would get less wet. After about fifteen minutes, the rain
      let up, and w went on our way to the lodge, and I only slipped once.

      Sept 1: No more sour grapes�coz�we found the spot! We got onto the water
      this time at 8 by leaving at 7 from the lodge. And perfect timing. We were
      just tossing against the bank and all of a sudden I got a BANG! In the water
      as a pavon took the lure and went down with it. Elidio, the professional
      fishing guide that he is immediately backed the boat up into the middle
      where there were fewer vines, logs and branches. I was in a hurry so did
      not try to play him along time. I reeled the fish nearby, as realization
      struck that we had left behind both the landing net and the gaff that Tomas
      had lent me.

      I then remembered that while I was on R&R, I had gone to Bass Pro Shop in
      Miami and dropped a chunk of change and one of the things that I had left
      the store with was: the ProGuide Tool Combo that includes an 8-1/2"
      stainless steel fishing pliers, 5-1/2" stainless steel fishing forceps and
      dual sheath with belt clip to keep them both ready at hand. The perfect
      combo for every angler. Yes, folks, that sounds a lot like an endorsement.
      Well, I don�t make endorsements, but if you had to get one tool set that had
      locking forceps to pull hooks out, and a pair of needlenose pliers to grab
      that lower lip of a fish with, then the ProGuide Tool Combo that includes an
      8-1/2" stainless steel fishing pliers, 5-1/2" stainless steel fishing
      forceps and dual sheath with belt clip to keep them both ready at hand will
      do you well.

      I took those pliers and as I pulled the fish out of the water with my left
      hand on the rod, the right hand snagged that mouth like you wouldn�t
      believe. The fish was a bit unhappy but he was landed with a minimum of
      distress. And no this was not catch & release fishing unless they were
      small. These fish found a proper home in many a stomach that week.

      Elidio told me �Estan todovia dos�estan todavia dos��, which basically
      translates to �They are always two��so I set to catching the other one. And
      I did�same trick, small gold flashy Rapala lure towards the bank, jerk it a
      few times, and reel slowly and I mean slowly, almost like it is not moving.
      You see, most reels have either a 3.2 to 1 turn ration or a 5.1 to 1 ratio
      that means for every full turn of your reel crank, it has wrapped up uh3.2
      or 5.1 revolutions of line, or something like 1-2 feet of line maybe. SO
      you gotta go slow so the lure is not swimming too fast. That way another
      fish might be enticed by this really stupid slow fish swimming along and try
      tom take a bite out of him�

      And as luck would have it, I was reeling in just right because another BANG!
      Hit that lure, and Elidio was already going backwards. It was a nice fight.
      I would love to tell you that it was a graceful struggle between man and
      beast with a tug on each side and a lot of reel whining, and a fight that
      lasted hours. But it really was a less than one minute fight, with me
      turning the drag a bit tighter with every whine of the line I got from the
      fish. He would take about 20 feet of line, and I would reel in about 15,
      then I got tired of that and cranked it up a notch. I slowly got them in
      and clamped down on that lower lip.

      You might think that is a bit cruel, snapping those needlenose pliers on
      that lower lip, but what goes around comes around, and we got paid back
      later. I also got paid back by some fish destroying my lures, and those
      lures cost me $5.95 each! So there.

      This ole boy that I just got had a fat lump on his head, and I thought that
      meant that it was a male, but nope, it means that it has a lump of fat on
      his head, that�s all. How do I know? Because the other guy Rodrigo was
      fishing and he caught a couple of peacocks and he had cleaned his, and he
      told me about the eggs he used as bait that he got from one of them. Nothing
      goes to waste here in the jungle.

      I got a total of ten peacock bass that day, and that includes two that we
      threw back because they were too small. Those weren�t the only fish we
      threw back. There were some barracuda, and some piranha and some dormilon
      that we threw back. We threw them back because that day we were after
      peacock bass. We did keep a few piranha if they were the red ones or the
      larger sized ones. Piranha taste good, but they have a lot of bones.
      Peacock bass taste good in a soup or fried, and there are not a whole lot of
      bones, and the good thing his that you can see most of them and pick them
      out before you eat it.

      Someone once asked me why I don�t like to eat fish all that much. I don�t
      like to work twice for a meal. I already worked once to earn the money to
      either buy the meal, or to buy the ingredients and make the meal, so working
      a second time to pick out the bones is too much work for me. Choosy in my
      old age, and a luxury that most people do not have. These guys living on
      the river, eat whatever they are lucky enough to catch. There is little say
      about �I don�t like the flavor of that one� or �That one has too many bones�
      or anything like that. I live to fish, whereas they fish to live.

      Then we stopped for lunch. Elidio had asked if he could get one of my fish
      to cook. I said sure. So he gave one of the boys one of the pavones and he
      took off in the canoe and they made a fire and cooked the fish, and by the
      time we got there, the fish were done. It was a Kodak moment: all of us
      around a makeshift fire in the jungle eating fish and sandwiches with our
      hands. I had asked Marta for some egg sandwiches after the rice episode,
      and they were good. I got two egg sandwiches and some pancakes. I shared
      that with the guys and got some fish. Not too bad. After a short break, we
      went back on the water and fished some more. We did not get anymore big
      fish, just a few piranhas.

      Elidio learned a few things that afternoon about the fish. One that I would
      not be able to take the fish back to Bogota, since they were a bit hot and
      had started to age; he showed me the gray gills and fogged over eyes to
      prove his point. He was not trying to jip me out of the fish so he could
      keep them, he was worried about me taking bad fish back to Bogota.

      He also learned that it is wise to make sure that the piranha are dead
      before you pick them up by the mouth. How did he learn this? By my hearing
      the only cuss words ever to leave his mouth. As he was pulling the fish
      out, I heard this �Hijo de puta!!�, which roughly translates to
      �Mother---!!�, and we all looked around to see blood dripping down his hand.
      Well, not dripping, but not quite gushing. It was a heavy flow, but he
      put his other hand on it to stanch the bloodflow. After a bit it did stop
      bleeding, but one thing interesting I saw was that as he was letting the
      blood coagulate, the drops that went into the water were quickly eaten by
      all the small fish. Later that night he remarked to Marta �It�s been a long
      time since I got bit by a piranha�� We all laughed over that one.

      Sept 2: We left at 6 am this time so we got to the lake at 7. Hopped into
      the water again, and went to the same ole hole, but got only two small
      peacocks and a few piranha, San Pedro and dormilon. 24 fish in all. Since
      the last afternoon we caught almost nothing, we decided to call it a day at
      lunchtime and walked back to the lodge for lunch and a rest.

      Elidio told me about this place called Lago de Tigres, and I said, �Uh, are
      there still tigers there?� Elidio paused and with a sad face, said �No,
      there were a while ago, but they have all been hunted but the place kept the
      name.� I asked him how far away it was, and he said about a half hour. I
      felt good about the place already.

      So we hit the road, and I found out that the half hour trip was almost as
      grueling as the one hour trip to Tortoise Lake. It was up and down, and
      over trees and under trees and two log bridges. All the while Elidio was
      cutting with his machete, clearing a path but also making signs for him to
      read on the way back, since it had been a while since he was there. As we
      arrived Elidio steered me to the shore in one area. There was a place that
      was already cleared out, so I fished there while Elidio went about to
      cutting other places for me to fish.

      I got a couple of piranha, and a dormilon, and got impatient. I was
      thinking that this place is no good since I got no pavon! Then the fish
      deity must have heard me, coz I got a hit. And a pavon it was. But this
      was a smart pavon, or so he thought. He wrapped that lure around a branch.
      I had learned patience, and it paid off. I let some slack in the line, and
      then the fish thought he was home free and started swimming away.
      WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!! I reeled that sucker in and was quite a happy camper, er

      Another pavon I caught was wrapped around a sunken branch, and Elidio walked
      out into the water, pulled the branch out of the water, freed the line
      pulled the branch out and let me continue with the fight. And a good fight
      it was. I pulled that bass in too. He was a beaut. Yes, those the
      ProGuide Tool Combo that includes an 8-1/2" stainless steel fishing pliers,
      5-1/2" stainless steel fishing forceps and dual sheath with belt clip to
      keep them both ready at hand came in handy yet again.

      After about five minutes of not getting anything, Elidio suggested I go to
      one of the places he had fixed up. We walked to this place that had a
      sunken tree or two and I walked out onto the tree and fished. It was
      precarious, but a fisherman knows no limits, knows no fears, and displays
      very little common sense when he is on the hunt�I managed to get another
      bass and had to play him like I did the other one after he wrapped himself
      around a log. Elidio walked out on the tree, and walked around me, went
      into the water onto another branch, and lifted the whole branch out and
      cleared the line so I could bring him in. Elidio must have worked as a
      guide elsewhere because not once did he touch the fish, he just jiggled the
      line and such.

      It always amazes me that we can outsmart fish that think they have
      outsmarted us. He would wrap himself around a branch, and I would wait
      patiently. One time I myself went into the water to get the line untangled
      to continue the fight. After a while I landed him. I had to change the
      line yet again. About ten times that day already I had to change about 2-3
      feet of line since it either nicked by the fish�s teeth, or was frayed
      because of the branches. I was a slow learner of Rule #3: Check That Line!
      But as I grew tired of losing fish when I did NOT check the line, I was
      checking each time, even thought if I had to change the line, I lost fishing
      time. It was better to lose time than fish.

      Catching and bringing in a fish is a hard feeling to describe. Some say it
      is like conjugating, others say it is indescribable. Well, technically
      speaking it is not indescribable, but just difficult to describe to anyone
      who has never fought a fish. It is a tug of war, and a struggle between man
      and animal with the one who displays more cunning winning. The fish can win
      by tangling that line (they do learn things) or snapping it out of his
      mouth, but the fisherman learns also by learning when to slack the line and
      when to reel in fast, or to play the fish until he is tired. It is
      something you have to learn, and some never learn it.

      We left the area about five o�clock, and had a leisurely walk back, with
      Elidio carrying my two peacock bass. What a guy.

      On Saturday 3 Sept, we left at 7AM, so we could get some good fishing in. I
      cast a few times and got a few dormilon and piranha. Then I had a perfect
      cast, a beautiful cast, landing right where I wanted it. As I was reeling
      it in, a baby San Pedro latched onto the lure. As I was cursing this piddly
      little fish that ruined the perfect cast I reeled in furiously. Then all of
      a sudden POW! Went something in the water. It was a pavon! He had gone
      after the fish that went after my lure, and got my lure too. Wow! What a
      catch, if only I could land him. I brought him in close, then he raced on
      some line and wrapped himself around a log. Man, was I p*ssed! But I
      learned. I displayed one of the many virtues of fishing (you see, fishing
      has little to do with catching fish). Patience was that virtue. I let
      slack the line, and finally the fish unwrapped himself, and got loose of the
      log. So I played him with my rod high up and reeled down, rod up, and reel
      down (Rule #2 of fishing), and slowly he came to shore, and I grabbed his
      lip with the pliers. The rest of the morning was more dormilon and a few
      piranha. The dormilon gives a good fight.

      After all that time in the Amazon, I was able to tell the difference in
      actions of the various fish. A Piranha will just tug the line side by side,
      but a dormilon will take the lure across the water and jump with it trying
      to dislodge the hook. But a pavon will take that lure down and swim around
      looking for a branch or other obstacle. Then he will pop out of the water,
      and shake his body trying to get the lure loose. Then he will go out again,
      and make your reel sing. It is a beautiful song, but one you want to end
      with a great cry and a laugh when you bring that sucker to land.

      Elidio cut a few more places for me to fish, but I only managed to get
      dormilon, so we decided to call it a day. On the walk back, like all the
      other walks to and from the fishing places, I was singing to myself to pass
      the time. Quite often the song was Do Re Mi, then I did a Filipino song
      called Ocho Ocho, or other times it was Rod Stewart and If You Think I�m
      Sexy, or the gospel Walk, Walk, In The Light, or the Beatles Get Back, or
      Jethro Tull Bungle in The Jungle, Another Saturday Night by Youssouf Islam,
      or Morning Has Broken. But it did help pass the time, and the walks seemed
      shorter and shorter each time.

      That last day of fishing was my first and only day without mud. You see,
      Mud was my Destiny�I would always manage to get my feet in the mud because I
      was not paying attention to Elidio�s steps, or I was just in a hurry, and
      would not step on the branch that Elidio would put on top of the mud, and I
      would sink kneedeep or so. I think Marta was glad to see me go, sine I
      tracked mud into the refectory each day. But I never did fall into the
      water, only mud.

      The players of this story each deserve their own description. I have
      described Elidio throughout the story, as well as his wife who is the chief
      cook and bottle washer at Heliconia. Elidio never voiced a negative opinion
      or spoke to me in a condescending manner. I myself had I been the guide
      would have said to myself many time �What a freaking idiot this Gringo
      is�can�t walk without getting in the mud, he has no sense of balance and
      makes about as much noise in the jungle as a pack of wild dogs�how much
      longer do I have to put up with this clown?� Nope, he never said that.
      Marta killed my diet with eggs and arepas everyday for breakfast, but
      tempered it with fresh fruit of all sorts.

      The other people were Julio, who was mostly silent and hard working. He
      guided the boats that we used to fish, and he was usually at the various
      lakes several hours before we were, laying his nets. At the end of each
      day, he would stay behind and retrieve his catch. One of the many rods I
      took with me was left with him, and he caught a few fish at Cristina and at
      Tigre with it. Rodrigo was also the recipient of a rod and reel that almost
      mastered while I was there. He was quite happy to receive that rod. He
      could catch fish to sell in the market and I get the idea it is something
      that he will take good care of, and it will last a long time. The other
      young man with us, Jimmy had himself a pocket fisherman type rod that
      collapsed and on the last day we went to Tortoise Lake he managed to catch a
      big arawana with it, but sadly it broke in two places as he was reeling that
      big sucker in. He too got a rod and reel. They are all good people, and
      they never stopped working to make sure that I had a good time. And they
      were there to help carry fish, build fires, or work on bridges so I would
      not sink in the river. So you see, as a development worker in my time, I
      loath the idea of giving somebody something for free, since that is usually
      the value they would put on it, and not take care of it. But those
      equipment I gave out were not gift. No, they were payment of sort for the
      fine job they did. If they are better able to support themselves or others
      with them, so much the better.

      I refined and reinforced those rules of fishing, which include if you
      recall, Look before you cast; never let the line slack; pull your rod up,
      and reel it back down; inspect your line, etc. I also lost quite a few
      lures through no fault of my own. Some will never swim right again due to
      the teeth marks and holes in them And I have one to send to my Dad that is
      little more than half a Rapala since a one piranha bit it in two, but since
      it was still connected with that steel rod inside it, I fished anyway, until
      another piranha chewed half the wood off. A decent burial it gets.

      Now I gotta come up with another way to convince Gigi to let me go again
      next year same time�Come on guys and gals, help me out here.
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