A few years ago my brother and I traveled to the Peruvian amazon jungle. We hired a guide who took us to the tiny village of Atun Cocha. We lived with the local people in a thatch-roof hut for several days and made some amazing forays into the jungle to photograph and record sounds. The magical sounds of the jungle at night are mind-blowing.
As a musician and composer I always record the environmental sounds and was astonished at the textured night sounds. It’s hard to stay completely still holding a sensitive microphone when the mosquito’s are out for blood.
One morning a native woman passed our hut with a black cooking pot. I ask what was inside – she took the lid off and proudly showed me a number of dead rats. A horrible smell struck me in the face reminding me that there was no electricity here and that these critters had been dead for quite a long while. “what do you do with these”…. “oh we eat them”. I started to pray “Please don’t make me eat one of these rats.”
The smell stayed with me all day long. I couldn’t shake the putrid odor. We took a trip into the jungle and returned to a normal amazonian lunch: rice, manioc root and fish. Excellent!
That evening the entire village came out for a special celebration. The chief of the village ceremoniously presented me with the plate you see above. This was a very special meal and I was the guest of honor. I shuddered at the thought of eating the rat but couldn’t see a way out of it. I slowly picked at the meat and pronounce it “delicioso”. Of course I was trying not to retch. The rest of the villagers joined in and the meal commenced. I thought for sure that I’d be sick. Fortunately I survived it without any ill effects. To the side of the rat is a piece of caiman ( amazon crocodile ), that was pretty tasty.
Paying dues for my art has been quite interesting on my exotic Sonic Safari adventures.