Some stories are meant to be told. This one of them. It’s an old one, but as Luis and Elizabeth Trujillo told me we were laughing like it happened yesterday. But let’s get into the story.
It was back during their year living close to the Nukaks. They had a shared outhouse, and one of their co-workers, Israel, noticed that the walls were being chewed up. He was pretty convinced that a paka was the culprit.
Perchance you don’t know what a paca is, I’ll fill you in. Pacas are the sixth-largest rodents in the world, living in Central and South America — which is exactly why you may never have heard of them.
I really hate to call them rodents. Maybe think of a really oversized guinea pig with fawn-like markings. That way when I tell you how delicious they are you might not be thinking humungous rat!
But I digress.
It was about 11 p.m. when all was quiet that the paca made his entrance again. Israel was ready, shotgun in hand and he didn’t miss. The outhouse was once again safe from destruction.
Luis and Elizabeth were in their house at the time of the shooting so Luis went out to investigate.
“I killed a paca inside the outhouse,” Israel said.
“Why was it in the outhouse?” Luis asked.
“It was eating the wood because of the salt in the urine.”
“Don’t tell Elizabeth where the lapa was,” Luis said as he eyed the meat, imagining what good meals would come from it. And then the men headed to the Trujillos’ house with the prized meat.
“Why did you bring me this meat at one in the morning?” Elizabeth asked as she cleaned up the meat, pleased to have it nonetheless. “And where did you get?”
Israel started smiling and soon both Israel and Luis were smiling and laughing. It was enough to make even the least suspicious of minds suspicious. Elizabeth just looked at them, waiting for an explanation.
“You’re an incredible woman,” Israel finally said. “You’re cleaning the paca up with such love, but I have to tell you something.” And he proceeded to tell her that he had shot the paca chewing on the walls of the outhouse.
The pleased look at having been given the prized meat fell from Elizabeth’s face. Everything in her said she should throw the meat away — but there was hesitation as she looked at it again. It was good meat and they didn’t have a lot of flights — nor a lot of meat.
Israel brought her full circle when he said, “This is meat of the jungle that God has given us.”
Elizabeth turned back to cleaning the meat. The next day they ate it. And it was delicious — even if a tad salty.