El Rio

For Felipe’s brother Victor, fishing is deep play, and going to the river an obsession. Victor would be described in English as an avid sportsman. I don’t feel the name does him justice. His knowledge of the mountain and reverence for his prey, be it deer, fish, or bees wild mountain honey has been accrued by a life of observation. He sees on a deeper level than other hunters I have known. He does not wear camouflage clothing, or use fake deer scent. He makes his own weapons. His method is not thought based; it is action that flows in conjunction with nature. Perhaps mountain man is more apropos, more like Eustace Conway, minus the mission and self-promotion.

Victor does not hunt or gather except for consumption. Perhaps he had a similar experience to Felipe who, as all boys in this community, had a resorte (slingshot) as a child. Boys here make pocket money for refrescos (soda pop) hunting iguanas; they are considered a delicacy by city folk. When Felipe was five he killed his first bird and was so proud he gave to his mother, she was furious when she saw it. She barked at him, “If you ever bring me this kind of bird again you will eat it for supper, don’t ever bring me anything you are not prepared to eat.”

Felipe had charmed me with stories of going to the river when we were living in the US. I reveled in his memories of the whole family, getting up before dawn, packing food and laundry on burros to spend the entire day in transit, play, and work, the elder children watching the younger. His disdain for lifeguards and regulations of all kinds infused the story with a sexy revolutionary fervor.

Rio season begins in February. During the summer rains, the river is too unpredictable to swim, in the winter it is too cold. But when the real heat comes in February thru May it is low and cool and an elixir to the soul. Felipe was excited to go, and so was I during our first hot season in Mexico, though as it turned out, my infatuation with the river was not love at first sight. Continue reading