Fishy mirages in bahía de los sueños

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Went fishing the other day, capi Rasta invited me to be his “sailor” for this chance.

He picked me up at 5:45 am and then drove to bahia de los sueños where at 6:20 am we where throwing the boat on the water, just before the sun rised.

Having received the sun in the water, one more time reminds me how mystical, silent and calm is that moment, that experience.

The smell of the sea, the fishy smell of the boat and the smell of the warm delicious handcraft mexican cafe de olla that capi Rasta prepared, filled and delighted my nostrils.

The morning was pretty cloudy, the sea was as quite, calm and glassy as it could get. After few hours navigating along the rocky west shore of Bahia de los sueños and having caught anything yet, we see a sea lion just sitting around the surface looking like if it was taking a bath with her belly popping out of the surface. Very relaxed, not caring to see us passing by.

Few moments after we see something else moving on the water, suddenly a fin comes out on the surface and we approach to it, not with the intention of fishing it but just to observe it. Then we manage to see the tail and indeed it was a shark, rather young it seemed, because of its size, maybe 1.5 m long.

We kept on exploring the bay in search for an appropriate fish to feed ourselves. Back to basics in these times of kinda modern survival mode with a global lock down that appear out of nowhere, luckily for us living in a very small and deserted town, that lock down was quite relaxed.

The sea was as glassy and calm as I’ve ever seeing it here, there where zero knots blowing from the wind. Completely static atmosphere. At some point we couldn’t tell if it was the sea or the sky, it seemed like a mirage, like a liquid, etheric plasma, surrounding ourselves. What is up is down.. I was enjoying it so much, as much as feeling home right there right then.

After a while another marine being surfaced, this time its fin and tail let us know it was a dolphin. Then few rays jumping and twisting in the air, which seemed there where having a lot of fun in their day off work.

After a while navigating around, having drank all the delicious cafe de olla (mexican traditional recype for cafe), having eaten few fruits, egg sandwiches (also prepared by the capi); we haven’t got caught any fish yet and we have being on the little panga (fishing boat) for around 4-5 hours already, so in these moments of suspense that not catching any fish when going to fish, creates, I couldn’t help remembering the story of “the old man and the sea” of the american writer Ernest Hemingway, (totally recommend you to read if you like fisherman adventures or if you prefer to watch the movie on youtube from 1990 with Daniel Quinn), where the old man after eighty and so days without catching any fish, will decide to launch himself into further away waters that where hit by the gulf of stream, outside Cuba. With the will set on catching that last trophy and sell it well in the market, Santiago the old fisherman, heads out of shore on his little skiff and disappears on the horizon. When in the gulf of stream zone, he prepares his lines and drop them. At noon a big fish takes the bait Santiago dropped a 100 fathoms deep (600 ft) and so the battle began against the marine beast. It took two complete nights and 3 days of battle against the largest marlin he has ever caught, for it to wear down and stop pulling the boat around. Santiago nearly delirious after not sleeping, eating and battling with the giant marlin, for around 56 hrs non stop, realices that the fish finally stops moving, the pray finally surrendered against his adversary the fisherman, who also gave everything he had to this one-on-one battle. So he starts pulling up the line with the hooked fish and expertedly kills it with the harpoon thrust, then he tided it to the side of the boat, because the fish was so big that didn’t even fit in there, hoping that some of it will manage to come back to the shore, before is all eaten by sharks, since it is leaving a blood trail all along the route of Santiago´s skiff. On the way back, he losses the harpoon trying to defend his catch from sharks and so the sharks end up eating the whole fish. Santiago, the old fisherman comes back to his village with only the giant skeleton gaining the admiration and honor from his people. At the end the battle of the fisherman was only for himself, now he could rest in peace.

Back in our fishy reality, the sun came out and it heathen up the atmosphere quite fast, so we decided to approach to a solitary sandy beach surrounded by rock and have a swim. The water was so fresh and with great visibility because of its absolut stillness, went snorkeling close to the rocks and found a bunch of coral reef fish of all sorts of colors and forms. That marvelous moment took me back to the good days of swimming and snorkeling in Puerto Morelos reef when it was still very alive, some 12 years ago.

So after 7 hours wandering around in the little fishing boat, having seing all these wonderful marine creatures and no proper fish caught, captain Rasta decided to get back.

He says that maybe 2 out of 10 times he doesn’t catch anything and that he has never seing that sea as calm as that day, making it more difficult to catch some good fish, because any little movement on the water will be spotted immediately, because of the calmness, so the fish won’t risk themselves to be prey for someone else bigger than them. In those ultra calm water days, smaller fish just hide and rest.

I didn’t care a bit for not fishing anything at all, actually was so thankful for being part of that specific atmosphere on that specific day I was invited and if I’m completely honest, I can have a real hard time being part of the process of fishing or any process that requires killing animals for feeding ourselves, even though I eat fish and deeply thank them for their delicious and nutritious meat.

Just when taking the boat off the water a real fishermen boat appears coming at some speed towards the shore, saw a man standing next to the boat ramp, looking towards them with an oxxo coffee on one hand, a cigarette in the mouth and a look that expressed many days spent at the sea and the sun. The boat was approaching directly towards him and I could see it had several large fins stacked on the sides and one fishermen wearing those shiny orange overalls, standing very proud on the bow of the boat, bends down picks up one of those stacked big fish, holds it around his chest and starts moving like if dancing romantically with a dead hammer head shark, yielding gloriously to the man on the side of the ramp about their great score. The moment I see the hammer head shark moving at the rhythm of he’s dead body attached to this man arms and plunged to its chest; I remembered why I’m not a fishermen or a hunter or an animal killer, it just gave me nausea and a pain inside my self.

Story dedicated to the fish and all the marine life inside the sea.

From the no fisherman.

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