Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fishing Trip

So this week found us on a fishing trip to the Caye's. For those unfamiliar, Belize consists of "the mainland" and an archipelago of Caye's...mostly private islands, or tourist traps. The largest Caye, Ambergris Caye, is very developed and has pretty well become an area for expats to live and tourists to visit. We were not there. lol We went on a fishing trip with a couple local boys, Norman and Morris. Norman has been working in the fishing industry here since he was just a small boy. During his 24 short years, he has made quite a nice life for himself. At one point, he worked for a German guy who owned 2 Caye's. One of the islands was just a wetland covered in mangroves. This kid brought sand from the mainland in his boat and built up his Caye a boatful at a time until it was high and dry enough to build a house on. As with too many expats, his German boss got in over his head, and had to go back to the daily grind. When he left, he pretty well GAVE the island to Norman. After all, Norman had done all the work to build it. So...24 years old, and owner of his own private island! Gilligan has nothing on this kid!

The guys were kind enough to bring Sean and I along on a fishing trip. The method is absolutely fantastic! No deep water reels and heavy duty fiberglass rods...Just a man and his line...bare handed. They bait the hook, and throw it overboard. When they get a bite, they just pull the line back into the boat! I watched Morris fight and eventually land a 4 foot Barracuda using NOTHING! They had stopped and bought some rubber things to put on our Expat Fingers so we could try to land something. I'm not quick enough...when you feel that first little nibble...act fast! The fish we were fishing were not Rainbow Trout! These fishies have BIG TEETH! They will take your bait before you even realize they are nibbling! Sean was better at it than I was, and he landed a couple snapper....or is it snappers? Snappi?

Anyway...I'm not a seafood eater. In my 41 years, I have mastered the art of polite decline when seafood is offered. After living the fishing trip, I was hooked also! That Barracuda was delicious! Swimming in the Caribbean Sea about 2 hours before it hit my plate! FRESH FISH! ....And I understand that on some of the tourist Cayes all the fish comes in already frozen. But Dangriga, the fish is never frozen! Heck! It is hardly done flopping when you cut it with your fork! We met these guys through a fish monger at the market...he generally buys whatever they bring in that day! It makes me laugh now when I think of the US restaurants serving their "Catch of the Day"...Phhht! Caught where? In the freezer department?

One morning, the guys took us out to show us how they dive for fresh catch too! They just anchor up in a place they know has Conch, or Lobster, or whatever they are looking for...then they literally free dive down and pick up the catch off the seabed. We couldn't keep any of the things they brought up from their dives because the Conch were too small and the Lobster are out of season. They were happy to give us a demonstration though! Did you know that Caribbean Lobsters have no claws!?! I didn't...but I do now! Morris brought me a starfish because he could tell my American self just loved them...THAT they let me keep...a souvenir from my first diving trip. These guys can dive down about 60 feet with no tanks, no wetsuits...just wisdom handed down for ages!

Although I had a fantastic time, I can completely see how hard this work is! Even riding to the Caye in the little boat will beat the heck out of a girl! The strength to pull in Sharks, or Barracuda, or ANY fish with nothing but one's hands is amazing! The guys said they were out of shape for diving. They said that when the season comes in, they stretch their lungs and prepare to dive sometimes up to 5 minutes with no air! I kept thinking of games we played as children where someone would toss a ring into a swimming pool, and you would dive down and get it. A SWIMMING pool with 9 feet of water...wear a person plumb out! Imagine fighting the current under the Sea and going 6 TIMES deeper! Strong guys...HARD work! Beautiful and amazing results!

I'm struck again by this countries extremes...One of the islands we visited was palatial in it's excess! A Canadian owns it, and he pays a Belizean to maintain it while he is away. Several buildings, a pier, over the water cabanas...and white sand raked every day! Then...the next island is home to a tiny wooden shack, a hodgepodge of repair or disrepair.... 2 young boys run to the dock to wave wildly as the skiff passes! These kids live on their private island too...just a completely different life than the Canadian guy's island. I'm working on a series of blogs about how the rich men and the poor men are so REALLY the same men here. It's tough to describe how...Who said that the Canadian Guy's island is worth millions, but my friend's island is free! And... Would those two boys ever realize the value that the western world has placed on their home? Would they keep their home if some rich expat wanted to buy it? What would make them richer in the end? Money? Their life? Fascinating...

 Bye Bye Dangriga! See you in a couple days!
 Paradise...Riches beyond money!
 Little shack...Little Hut...Built by hand with stuff brought in by SMALL boat!
 The view from Norman's porch...WOW!
 These are my legs...perspective of how small the boat is!

 Money bought it, money built it....but is it more valuable?

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