When I was in Ecuador, I had the pleasure of doing a retreat into the Amazon (or as they would call it, Amazonia). It was an excursion that was so deep into the rain forest that we were isolated from civilization. That means no electricity, no hot water and no WiFi (though jokingly, there was a sign that said free WiFi in our common area). It took us 2 hours by flight and 4 hours of weaving back and forth at various speeds on the Amazon River in a motorized canoe to get to our lodge.
It was definitely worth it to be in an area secluded from civilization and to be immersed in nature. Other than seeing the animals with my own eyes in their own true habitat, what amazed me was our Indigenous naturalists. Their senses were heightened beyond belief! A stampede of warthogs? Heard them coming towards us 5 minutes in advance. Lost group? Oh wait, they will be arriving in 30 minutes via motorboat. A boa snake? Yes, it’s in the tree a good several miles away but you can use your binoculars to see it. Crazy!
Other than hiking around and learning about the Indigenous folks, we also got to do a little piranha fishing. Firstly, I didn’t know that was a thing. I associate piranhas with those horror films and cartoons, eating human flesh to the bone upon contact with water. Secondly, apparently they are edible. Interesting, right? I shall explain.
Upon that murky Amazon water, we putted across the river on our motorized canoe into a shallow area with long branches tied with a piece of string and hook. It was literally the old fashioned way of fishing and we used red meat as bait. We threw our rods into the water hoping for some fish to bite. I was lucky and ended up catching three on our short excursion. They were quite scary looking, given that they have sharp teeth and strong jaws. The guides told us to avoid touching them because they will chew our hand off and that they would take care of it. Duly noted!
When we were done, we went back to our lodge and the chef prepared one fish for the group to sample. It was interesting, to say the least. The chef prepared it by deep frying it and serving it with little to no seasoning. How would I describe my experience eating piranha fish?
Very fishy, very bony and it tasted very much like what you would expect the murky Amazon water to taste like. It was probably best that we didn’t eat too much since our stomachs aren’t used to eating such foreign things, but it was definitely an adventure of a lifetime. And to think, I somehow managed to survive swimming in the Amazon river knowing that there are piranhas, caiman, etc. Yikes!