Community Stories: Crossing Jordan

By Papatara — A short time ago my adoptive son Seferino (who recently turned forty) and I were talking about how the frogs and toads that live around us in Alamikamba like to climb up on the wooden porch of the hotel at night to feed on bugs. One of the frogs in particular actually climbs up on the roof just under our outside streetlamp to fill up on hapless bugs. Alamikamba had just become connected to the national electric grid, so, having electric lights in the evening instead of burning a candle was a new experience for us.

Seferino went on to comment that he would NEVER hurt or molest a suklin (toad) for fear that it would have bad feelings for him in the afterlife. At the time, I didn´t understand his great respect for amphibians since he is an avid hunter and fisherman. And, he certainly never seemed bothered by all the mammals and fish that he brought to the table for us to eat! Actually, I always supposed that Seferino planned to pursue the same prey again in the afterlife as well!

A few days later, I mentioned Seferino´s unusual comment to Kuka (Seferino´s 75-year-old mother). She replied matter-of-factly, ¨Oh yes, he doesn´t want to be left behind.¨ Now, my interest was really peaked. ¨What do you mean?¨ I asked her.

¨We Miskito Indians aren´t like the upla pihni (white folk),¨ she went on. ¨When we die, Moses isn´t there to part the waters for us to cross over the River Jordan and the Red Sea to the Promised Land. We must look to the suklin. If he lets us climb on his back, he will swim us across and put us on the other side.¨ She went on, ¨If we kill or mistreat the suklin in this life, he may not want to help us get to heaven in the afterlife.¨

I was speechless. After living many years around such a religious and Bible reading people, I was surprised to learn that they still firmly believe in such animalistic things!

A few days later, I peered through one of the holes of our outhouse and happened to notice two incredibly large toads floating in the pit below. Wow, I thought! These guys have grown huge feeding on all the bugs attracted here. I´d never seen toads this big before!

Then, I began to wonder if indeed they might be able to carry ME to the other side. After some consideration, I declined to ask them for a ride!

You can read more of Papatara’s accounts of life with the Miskitu at The Real Nicaragua.

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