Explore Church Travels to Brazil – Day 13

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Explore Church in Missoula recently went on a mission trip to Brazil. Follow them on their journey as we post journal entries written by a member of their team. You can find previous entries at www.mtsbc.org.

Day 13

Explore Church Goes to Brazil

You have to wake up early in the Amazon to sneak up on a peacock bass. Earlier than we woke up apparently. Our last day we spent trying to fulfill a lifelong dream of Mark’s, to catch a peacock bass, one of the world’s rarest and most beautiful fish, as well as one of its greatest fighters. It is rumored that peacock bass are the hardest and longest fighting freshwater fish. Bending and breaking rods better than fish twice their size. 

By every indication, catching a peacock bass in the Rio Negro had to be a breeze. Peacock bass were everywhere: on the menus at every restaurant, in the market both fresh and smoked, in carvings, as refrigerator magnets and keychains. Anglers pay up to $10,000 a day to fish this river for peacock bass. Mark and I have caught fish of every type in every type of body of water. Trout, bass, fresh water, salt water, bait fishing, fly fishing, ice fishing. Surely it would be no problem to catch this ubiquitous fish. No problem. Yeah right!

We woke at 6:00 am and waited for our boat ride. Bryan took us deep into the jungle on the buffalo boat. We had a chance to visit an island in the river that housed several families. Bryan traded fuel for a type of smoked catfish. The flavor was mind blowing. Good thing he made the trade, or we wouldn’t have had any fish to taste. A tree house church they had built was on the island. The boards were all hand-milled using a chainsaw. The only imported material was the metal roofing. Miraculously, the tree house synagogue had survived the flood from the previous year.  

The theatrics of my amateur hour fishing adventure were comical. Losing a rod and jumping overboard, unannounced, into the quick current started the hilarity. After finally finding the lost pole under water, on a sand bar, we started up a small tributary. The peacock bass were literally trying to swim onto land to avoid our vessel, even when we approached almost silently. We could see their dorsal fins protruding in the shallows. Another expensive lure was cast straight into an overhanging tree, by all appearances, on purpose. 

Instead of losing another piece of excessively expensive and increasing rare gear, I decided to swim the channel and climb the overhanging tree, with a machete in hand, to retrieve the lure. Chopping a jungle hardwood tree in half, while swinging towards your own bare feet, is more challenging than you or I would think, even though I have an excessive amount of unfounded confidence. But, I got the job done. 

With the tree branch cut in half, I dove into the water to haul in the branch and retrieve the lure. To celebrate the retrieval, I had the bright idea to swing on a handy vine, like Tarzan. After a small test swing, I geared up to do the full Tarzan. As soon as my body weight loaded the vine, it snapped, sending me into the canal. We all erupted in laughter, doubling over, and almost falling out of the boat. I am an entertainer, whether I like it or not. Often that entertainment is at my expense. 

It had been so long since I had laughed that hard. It felt so good, it felt like I was young again. The joy was a time machine that took me to a better, lighter time. It was a gift. A gift I didn’t even know that I needed, but one my soul was desperate for. We are created to live and experience life in every way, in joy. Through our successes and failures, our triumphs, and our mistakes. We aren’t meant to hold it in and hide away. 

Thank you for following this journey!

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