Haroldo looked up, smiled, and nodded like he understood. “You believe in natural selection?” I ask.
Another smile, perplexed, and then a blank stare.
“You know…Charles Darwin—survival of the fittest?”
Though I saw no pockmarks or missing toes, this young Brazilian must’ve had an unpleasant piranha experience early in life. We had spent the morning tossing poppers at a swarm of little peacocks until I opened the chops of one particular jungle bass and found a horrifying creature attached to its tongue. “Jesus! What is that thing?” I asked in disgust.
Haroldo sprang to his feet and peered down the fish’s maw as I held it open with forceps. “Es no bad,” he replied with nonchalance, as he whipped out his Leatherman and dislodged the six-legged maggot. He placed it on his palm and studied it for a moment, and then he turned and booger-flicked the little alien back into the river. “Not good to eat?” I asked, making the universally accepted hand-to-mouth gesture.
“Nah. No eat,” he laughed, with a hint of ignorant gringo in his expression. The little peacock had two red pincer marks on its tongue, but otherwise appeared unfazed. “You’re welcome,” I say, after placing it back in the water and watching it kick away from the boat.