2 days ago I went fishing with Ken and his friend Ep. It couldn't be more different than how we fish back home...
Instead of a bunch of people sitting in a boat drinking beer and casting a line playing the waiting game, there is one man rowing - in this situation, me - one man standing up at the front of this very unstable barge (Ken) and one man with a diving mask on - a mask that looks 50 years old - actively looking for the fish (Ep).
It is a much more pro-active approach and much more entertaining. As I am sitting in the boat roasting under the afternoon sun, slowly being carried away by the current, pushing at the rocks with the oar, Ken is standing up in a blue speedo and waiting for his friend to give him the go to toss the net. Ep is in his black speedo diving every few minutes, chasing fish and looking for branches. He's pretty good at holding his breath.
Every time we toss the net there's a chance rubbish will get caught in it and that we have to pick out of the net, being careful not to tear the fragile apparatus.
"I'm sorry Étienne, it will be over soon"
"Ken, I like fishing, don't worry about me"
"Ok my friend. Can you go over there?"
The balance that you must have, to cast that net and not fall in the water, is pretty impressive. One of my favourite things to do on the island is to sit with a beer by the river at sunset and watch the fishermen at work. Guarantee you'll see one of them fall in the water every night, then come up and blow his nose while his friends laugh.
That day we caught a fish. I was standing thigh-deep in the water on a slippery rock, holding the boat as still as possible. Ep came up and pointed very excitedly at a spot in the water and Ken deftly threw his net in the air. We watched it unfold and land in a perfect circle in the water, waited for it to sink and silently looked on as Ken, holding on to a piece of string, brought it back up. As it folds under the water, it traps everything inside.
We brought up the net and saw our victim entangled! Ken let a very loud and happy "Finally!!!" and we all had huge smiles on our faces, even if the fish was pretty small. Ken had been fishing regularly since I've known him but always came home empty-handed.
I told him that my beard was good luck.
After this, I had to come on every trip.
Ken and his wife ate their fish that night, with some sticky rice and very spicy peppers. I didn't touch it as I am not allowed to eat that meal any more... It gives me the shits like nothing else.
After this Ken decided to fish closer to home (as in, directly in front of the bar). As I rowed around in circles he'd toss the net randomly and we started to catch fish every 2-3 days. We had to hurry before the neighbor's kids came home from school (Tana and Noua) because they love to play with us and that would scare all the fish away.
Next time I'm over I'll have to learn how to toss the net.
Picture taken by my good friend and fellow traveler Anthony Toussaint