Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Every day we swim in the river. To get in, you slap the water a lot, then once in, keep swimming vigorously. This is to discourage the little fish that bite. (They say they aren’t piranhas, but we can’t see them in the muddy water.) I’m not talking about the lippy nibbles that our local fish sometimes give. These are toothy bites, quite sharp and startling. You don’t dare stay still (and it’s not a bad idea to swim in your shirt.)

I wonder what all the teeth are to do with. Probably they’re about eating other fish with bones. The fish here are the boniest ever. You lift a fillet off the rib cage, and it still has three layers of branched bones in it, as if to say “you may bite me, but it won’t do you any good.”

We are served a fish with lots of bones, somehow getting most of them out. There are pockets of boneless muscle in the cheek near the head. Rick points out the fish’s teeth... large, with two fangs almost 3/8 inch long, and sharper than sharks’ teeth. I pull my fish’s jaw open to see if it has the same teeth. It does. The jaw springs shut and it bites me.

Nature, red in tooth and claw. The jungle is far from benign.

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