Sunday, October 07, 2007

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish...

It was late afternoon when a couple of us went for a run.
We took our usual route, along the beach, by the water’s edge.
12 minutes into our run we saw a lot of people up ahead.
We stopped to check it out.

They had just pulled in their nets, or attempted to at least.
The catch was so big, they couldn’t pull them in all the way.
So, at the water’s edge, men started pulling huge fish out of the nets,
Throwing them to guys a couple of meters further up the beach,
Who proceeded to throw/carry them to a pile that was beginning to form.

So many images-
A barricade of fish at the water’s edge.
A huge pile of fish further up on the bank.
Fish flying through the air.
Men and women running back and forth.

We stood there watching in awe.
I had never seen so many fish at one time.
A colleague estimated that there were ten tons of fish.
The locals said it is the ‘cowrah’ fish.
Word has it that a catch like this occurs once every 18 months.

When we got home the catch was the talk of the evening.
A number of us had seen the excitement at various stages.
Frans who was there around 430 took some video clips.
Jerry who was there after us at 630 took some pictures.
I could only begin to imagine what the ‘fish miracles’ in the Bible were like.

We couldn’t help but decide to return to the scene.
Curious to see how many fish were left; surely they can’t sell them all.
At 830 pm 5 of us climbed into the Land Cruiser.
And drove off into the night,
Excited, like little children on the eve of a birthday.

When we reached the spot, there were cars everywhere.
It was dark, very dark.
There were hundreds of people around.
A big NGO ‘no no’ really, to get out of the car and start mingling.
But we did just that.

We were soon ushered down to the beach by some locals.
There was now a huge netted fence at the spot we were at only hours before.
Because we were white (tourists they thought) they let us into the netted area.
We were in the inner circle.
Only a foot from the enormous pile of fish.

After taking some pictures we agreed to buy some fish.
6 fish for Le 50,000 ($17), which disappeared into a big bag.
The bag was carried to our car and we were on our way home.
The longer we were in the car, the stronger the fishy smell.
By the time we reached home the smell was overwhelming.
(For those who have done obstetrics- think of the overpowering smell of placenta…yuck!)

Now that we had the fish, they needed to be cleaned.
Fortunately our security guards agreed to help.
But first we needed to take pictures of our catch.
The 5 of us with our fish- on World Animal Day.
Out came the knives (albeit blunt) and basins of water.

This is the end of part 1 of the fish story. To be continued…

No comments:

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~