We arrived in Korcho at 2pm. Korcho is very low in altitude at about 300m above see level. It could not have been a degree bellow 43. It was excruciatingly hot. I met my local guide who explained that we would rest until the late afternoon when we would take a tour of the village. We lay in the shade for a few hours until the extreme heat began to subside.
A young girl came over and introduced herself. Bona was divine, at the age of 13 and her English was almost perfect. She said she went to school and that she wanted to become an engineer so that she could build her family a home and her brothers a fishing boat. She offered to take me to her family’s farm that was an hour walk down the river. I accepted, told my local guide that I would be back later and left with Bona.
I ask her why she wasn’t as school and she told me that it was mid semester holiday and that she was on a two week break. Bona was very interested in my family and what I did in Australia on a day-to-day basis, just as I was interested on how she spent her time during the day. We shared our hopes and dreams during our walk through the trees down to the river.
Finally, I heard some commotion – we’d reached the family’s farm. Mothers daughters, brothers and babies – Bona’s family with a few extensions I assumed. Her brothers were fishing down in the river and her mother was harvesting the Maze (corn) with Bona’s older sister. Bona introduced me to her family who could not speak a word of English. They were laughing and enjoying themselves while they went about their day. I helped the grandmother and sisters peel the beans and prepare for dinner. Their hands worked so fast as they laughed hysterically at my incredibly slow bean peeling skills. They also prepared porridge from the corn by drying it out, grinding it between 2 stones and adding hot fresh milk. Another woman, maybe an aunty, was cooking fish on the fire and charring fresh corn. It was absolutely delicious – I immediately realised how much I had missed fresh fish!
We finished off the fish and I asked Bona if I could join her brothers for a little and then cook it up for dinner again together. She immediately took my hand, picked up some fishing wire, a hook, wooden stick and lead me down to where her 2 older brothers were fishing. Bona introduced me. Either of them could not speak a word of English. She prepared my fishing rod for me and left me with her brothers who were knee deep in the river. They waved their hand and gestured that I take off my shoes and come into the water.
I put some corn bread on the end of the hook and walked carefully into the water to join her brothers. They showed me how to swing the hook on a string like a lasso and throw the line out to the center of the river. I watched carefully were the line had submerged and waited for a tug. It was 10 minutes before I felt something and pulled the wire hard so to catch the fish on the hook. I reeled in the wire and discovered no bread and no fish on the end of the end of the hook. I looked up at the boys who had caught at least 15 fish between them in the last 10 minutes. They giggled and threw me another piece of bread to try again.
There were other young men fishing on the other side of the river. They were punks, all with these typical mohawk hair dos. They would scream out to our side every time a fish was caught, boasting arrogantly while showing off their muscles & fish size. The punks had better fishing rods than us and were catching many more at a much faster rate. The brothers ignored them and went about their business.
Suddenly I noticed something swimming in the corner of my eye, a crocodile not 4m from my knees. In that moment I decided it was best to keep still, as thrashing around and running would possibly startle it & that maybe it would attack. I quickly turned to the boys who had obviously seen it and they put an index finger up to their lips as if to tell me to ‘Shhh’. The 3m croc passed us and swam on down the river. I swear my life flashed before my eyes, honestly thinking that that was the end of me. I must have looked like a ghost, the boys were laughing at me with tears in their eyes. Even the punks on the other side of the river had seen what had happened and were in hysterics.
A few minutes later, a huge African eagle swooped down towards the other side of the river and latched onto a fish from the basket belonging to the punks and flew back up to a tree with the fish in claw. The brothers and I looked at each other for a few moments before beginning to laugh and scream while pointing in their direction. The punks turned around to look at their basket that was half way up the riverbank. They both instantaneously dropped their sticks once they realized what was happening and started spiriting up to the basket while screaming at the eagle. Suddenly, a second eagle soared down toward the basket and clasped onto a second fish before flying back up to the tree. We were crying of laughter. The punks eventually reached the basket and swiftly stared covering the basket with the surrounding banana leaves still screaming at the cheeky African eagles while their voices echoed down the river.
The brothers and I could barely hold ourselves up we were laughing so hard. I had tears streaming down my face. We had to stop fishing and walk back up to Bona and her family collapsing every few second with extreme hilarity. Bona was watching us from the top of the bank in confusion. Her brothers yelled up at her explaining what had happened and she too buckled in realisation. We sat eating and laughing for a few more hours before it started to get dark and it was time to walk back to the village.
How wonderful it was to enjoy the afternoon with this family. I could never ever forget it.