Independence Day was to fall on Sunday, July 28th. The Tuesday before at an early morning town meeting the people decided to start celebrating early with a traditional command party they call “dosseniji.” The women and girls picked up sticks and went from house to house singing to the men and pounding their sticks on their houses telling them to go fishing. The men got their gear together after breakfast and took off together in several canoes to a favorite fishing spot upriver. At some point along the way one of them shot and killed a large paca whose organs were used as bait. They fished all day long and didn’t return until late afternoon.
While the men were off fishing, the women and girls got their carrying baskets and machetes and took off in canoes to a field upriver. There they dug up a lot of yuca, filled their baskets and came back home. During the morning, a cold storm blew in and the temperature dropped quickly. By the time the men returned, they were half-frozen! They started calling “Jo, jo, jo!” as they approached the village in the canoes, giving a signal to the women so they would know it was time to get together to receive them. The men arrived at the port, got their strings of fish ready and then paraded up the hill to the village single file.
The women and girls had gathered on the cement soccer court and they lined up and began singing. As the men walked up to them they dropped their strings of fish in a pile in front the women. Then they went on home. After the last man left his string, the women rushed up to the pile and each grabbed a string of fish. Then they went home to cook the fish and get plates of food ready with fish and yuca to serve to the men. Or so we thought.
Everyone waited for the call to get back together to eat but it never came. The chief must have thought it was too cold to gather back at the soccer court to eat. We went out to check what was going on and discovered that everyone just ate at home with their families, sitting around their fires to keep warm!