Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A simple life

Just checked the weather in Denver and Vail. Flip flops may not cut it for friggin' 15 below zero! Good thing we gave them one last dip in the sand. I won't tempt you with too much of this beach trip, except for the cool fishing we got to witness.

These guys get out at first light, driving the net setting crew and the boat to different spots on the beach each day. Once one end of the net is set and the boat's in the water most leave for awhile. A group of about eight guys rows out while letting the net out behind them. A two or three hundred meters out they turn parallel for another couple hundred meters then turn back into the beach to set the other end of the net there.

The net is about 15 feet wide with floats on one side and weights on the other, so with the ends at the beach it acts like a huge hug, sweeping up just about anything in its path.

Once the boat's back, four to seven guys tie up to each end and start heaving. It's a slow and synchronized pull as they all step back the same distance at the same time. When the back guy gets a bit far up the beach he drops off and moves to the front of the line. This takes about an hour before they reach the net on the rope. But after the hundreds of yards of rope and net, most of the catch ends up in a great sloshy, floppy, fishy mass at the end.

All the guys who helped out get fed, and many are paid with parts of the catch. The old guys get first dibs...

the ladies get stuff like starfish and sea horses that we guessed they sell...

gringos get anything inedible they're willing to touch...

and the birds get the rest.

It seems there is an order and process to who gets what, but we couldn't tell how it worked. We did notice that as those with fish scattered to get it put away there was no money changing hands. The owner, it seems, worries about collecting from everyone later, meaning there must be an honor system, as it would have been impossible to track.

Once the good stuff is picked over, the unlucky and unwanted rays and blowfish, which seem the biggest part of the catch, are left to gasp and flop about.

Watch your step

But if you're lucky, a bleeding heart gringo will risk a poke or a sting and chuck you back in the ocean. And if you're really lucky the dog won't snatch you back out again.

After the net's cleaned out and properly ordered, it's back into the boat. If the catch is small they'll do it again. But either way they seem always done by noon. Not a bad day, if you ask me. But, hmm, what if they worked just a little more and made more money...?

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