Frog Catching 101
Banna, Laos 7pm: The entire village is shrouded in darkness. I am sitting outside my room which is on stilts, listening to the crickets and the sound of silence. It is beautifully eerie.The vast rice fields in front of me suddenly light up with a million fireflies. Wow, I think to myself, those are a a lot of fireflies. And they seem to hang out, buzzing around low in the fields for what seems like ages.I run to Mama Khem ,the mother of the family I am staying with, to share with her the amazing sight (of course I haven’t seen anything so spectacular in a while). She in her sweet Lao accent says to me ” Sana, those are children not fireflies.” Huh !!What? She then went on to tell me that the kids of the village go frog hunting every night and what me:”the blind bat” was seeing was the glow from their flashlights!!
Frog hunting that sounds exciting! So I decided to venture out with Kim one of the young boys. He was more than happy to show this city bumpkin how to catch a frog but I am sure after that night he told him self never again.
I went out with flashlight in hand and a cane basket with lid around my waist, following a group of 8-12 year old boys. They went out every night to catch frogs which were then BBQd. This was dinner for their families.
The entire frog hunting process is so fast and efficient. Kim walked around the fields shining his flashlight around and suddenly he would point at what looked like muddy earth to me, turn his light off, walk into the dark, quickly put his hand on something and put it in his basket. The frog still alive jumped around in the basket making the strangest noises. Wow that looks easy but it is NOT. First off I am thinking I will see massive frogs which are green with big yellow polka dots and can be easily spotted! No no no, these are tiny tiny tiny brown frogs which completely camouflage with the rice field. I had such a hard time seeing them that by the end of the night every time Kim pointed one out I faked a ” Yeah I see it”. And then when I thought I finally saw one Kim gently pointed out to me that it was a rock!! Its amazing to see these boys just fly around the field catching one invisible frog after another and putting them into their basket. By the end of the hour Kim had more then 20 little frogs jumping and croaking around in his basket. I on the other hand have not managed to catch even one. Useless Sana!
But the experience in itself was so beautiful:frog or no frog . Walking out into the darkness with the wind blowing around you and the cows mooing in the distance. Your legs slipping in the muddy rice fields and the sound of the gurgling river near by. At the end of the night Kim and I took a break along the river and out of the darkness ,flew over us a billion fireflies, just like that!
I am glad I went frog hunting with the boys.