[OP-ED]: Learning how to fish, directly from fishermen
“By watching and by doing it" is the learning technique fishermen have preferred in the Caribbean Ocean for centuries. It made me think we haven't invented anything new in the AL DÍA shop.
This Labor weekend caught me in front of the Caribbean watching actual fishermen in the millennial-old profession of catching fish from the salty waters in eternal motion.
It was fascinating.
I was doing the early morning walk along the beach when I came across them as they had come ashore after an all night out into the ocean doing the fishermen’s job:
Throwing the net with confidence, waiting with pristine patience for hours and, at the end, always optimistically hoping for a good catch— always happy at the end, regardless of the final number of fishes captured.
These men who own and operate an old boat made me think of that other boat from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”
These men who own and operate an old boat made me think of that other boat, with a battered sail attached in the middle looking like ‘a flag in permanent defeat,’ from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”
This in high contrast to their shiny, tanned faces, visibly used to all sort of daily challenges and actual defeats.
Their catch visibly scarce this morning of Sept the 5th, 2016.
20 fishes, at the most, of 20 different sizes, some really small.
Not great, but “good and plenty"— one they definitively looked grateful for, in any event. Worse things could've happened.
There was visibly some sort of light in their faces, resolve in their body language, and obvious hope in their spirits.
They feed themselves from these fruits of the ocean (Sierra, Mero, Merluza, Mojarra o Pargo Rojo, are a few of the many species from this Mediterranean of the Americas), which is like a thousand-acre field in permanent harvest, right in front of their oceanfront, bamboo-tree made mansions— in reality little shacks, some of them evolved from the original "choza de paja" to very modest structures, tiny small, made of cement and steel, all lining up in front of the beach in this fishermen's town near Cartagena, in the Colombian Caribbean Coast.
This field in permanent harvest in front of them spare them from the plowing, watering and care taking...
This field in permanent harvest in front of them spare them from the plowing, watering and care taking demanded from the peasants up in the mountains.
The ocean is always there, on their backyard, and the fishes coming out of it every single day are their free meal. The occasional surplus they will always sell, right there on the beach to anyone looking from the freshest of the fish, or at “La Plaza de Mercado” (the Public Market) where they go when they have an abundant catch.
Which today wasn’t the case.
All the same they were all smiles for this strange visitor dropping all of sudden by from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, speaking in Colombian Spanish to them.
They made me feel strangely at home.
No only because for me each trip to Colombian is always a home coming...
...Perhaps, it was also because, unaware, I was not only enjoying the fascinating sight, but also actively learning how to fish, directly from the fishermen:
"By watching and by dong it," exactly as we do it here in AL DÍA, the old-fashioned way.