February 4
by Bill Booth

Dialect, as most of you know, can be difficult both to read and to write. While I cannot claim to be a native Cajun, I HAVE spent most of my life in southern Louisiana, the heart of Cajun Country. Cajuns have a distinct, musical way of expressing themselves. They may use a colloquialism in one sentence, then pronounce the correct English equivalent in the next (‘dem and them, der and there, e.g.). They speak most colorfully when trying to relate a story. “Cher”, French for “friend” is pronounced “sha”, as in shack. It is one of the most commonly used words in Cajun French.
I hope you will enjoy my attempt to relate an event in the manner of a Louisiana Cajun.
The setting is the small town of San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye in northern Belize.

The San Pedro Bonefish

Cher, you got to lat me tol you bout my yesterday vacation, yeah. I tink it wuz about eight or six mont ago, my wife done tol’ me we goin to take us a trip down to dat Carribean Ocean. I say, dat fine wit me, jus so I could brought my fly rod an catch me some dem big ol boneyfishes ever’body so crazy ‘bout down der. She say, okay… so we hop on one dem big ol jet plane and flies down sout’ o’ Mexico to some country name o’ Bay-leece.
Whan we gets der, we take a big bateau out to one dem island over by de reef to little ol San Pedro Town. We git settle down an I rents me one dem golf cart tings dey use to go roun’ in.
Nex’ mornin’ I takes myself over behind of dat San Pedro airport, where they is a big lagoon on one side o’ da road and a open bay on da other side. Tide was out but comin’ up, an’ da wind was in my face from da bay side.
When I look aroun’, I see some fish movin’ roun’ on a sand bar ‘bout t’irty or twenty feets out in de bay, so I t’rows a few flies at ’em. But they ain’t int’rest. ‘Bout dat time, de wind she pick up and really start to blow. Den she start to rain too. Whowee! Did she rain!
Well, I ain’t no dumass, me, so I go sit in my golf cart where I can stay dry…from de neck up. Afta’ awhile, dat wind and rain, she stop, an’ I hear “splish, splash … splish, splash” in de water over behind of me.
Well, cher, when I look I see two dem big ol’ bonyfishes swimming around in dat shallow water wit’ they big ol’ boney tails sticking up in de air like perio-scopes on dem suba-marine.
I grabs my rod and sneeks over to th’ bank where dey feedin’ and works out about forty or t’irty feets of line, then I lays down dat ol’ fly down right in fronts dey noses, real sof’-lak. Den I twitches it back wit little six or five inch jerks. I don’ hardly move nothing but my lef’ han’ while dat fly crawl along in front dem fishes.
Me, I don’ know why, but dey ain’t interest the first t’ree or two time I t’row it out der, but de nex time! Look out, cher! One dem big fish grab my fly an’ take off lak a rocket to de moon!
Cher, all I can do is hol’ on dat rod an’ screw down on dat drag! Somebody was hollerin’ like it was the fo’th of July, and I looks aroun’ to see who it was. Lo an’ behol’, it wuz me! Ain’t nobody else aroun’.
Dat big fish take out all my line, clean down to da backin’ and den some o’ dat too! Well, he do dat four or t’ree time befo’ he fine’ly give out and lets me pull ‘im up on the sand.
Cher, I’m a’ tol’ you, he really somethin’! He ’bout two feets long and weighs a good six pound or more. Big ol’ eyes rollin’ aroun’ in dat little pointy head, wonderin’ what da hell’s happenin’. Dem long, black stripe and silver scales on his side jus’ shinin’ in the sun.
Me, I ain’t never seen nothin’ lak it. He’s prettier than a hound pup. He’s even prettier dan dos’ big green trouts an’ goo fish we gots back home … he’s more prettier dan a big ol’ white sac-a-lait!
Well, I unhook ‘im and swish ‘im back an fort in the water a few time, den he swim off lak ain’t nothin’ ever happen.
‘Bout dat time, she start to rain fo’ sho’, an’ by da time I gets back to dat condo-minimum, I look lak a drownded rat, me.

Read about the author on the Writer’s Bios Page