I arrived at Isla Arena in hopes of white sand beaches, fresh ceviche, and finding two good palms for my hammock. When the sight of a little boy helping an old man get a boat ready caught my eye. The little boy was carrying a giant jimba (bamboo) pole from the beach to the boat. The jimba, although not very dense, must have been about three times his size. I was nervous to approach them and interrupt their work flow, but the astonishment I had for this little dynamic duo got the best of me. So, I walked on over and greeted them with a smile, a “Buenas tardes” and proceeded to ask if I could film them while they continued to work. They agreed and neither of them seemed camera shy, although the boy did look at me confused, as if he didn’t understand why I’d want to film them. He had no idea, but his ordinary day as a fisherman was a dream I’ve always wanted to experience.
The old man had a salt and pepper beard with wrinkles all around his eyes; my guess was from all the squinting he had done from extensive hours under the sun. He wore a blue baseball cap and the boy wore a red. He was moving meticulously but in no hurry. I could tell the old man had an attention to detail but enjoyed his work. After a few minutes of filming I asked if the boy was his son. It turned out the boy was his grandson. He said his grandson loved helping him get the boat ready so much, that he wouldn’t even have to obligate him. The old man and the boy were getting ready for the fishing season. Except no fish were expected to be caught. They were going after the “Pulpo” (octopus). The season starts August 1st and more than 100 local fisherman set off daily on their dinghies into the Gulf Sea.
The jimba that his grandson was loading up on the boat was going to be making two fishing lines. At the end of the poles were crabs attached by nylon rope. The crab was intended to be used as bait for the pulpo. Once the lines were set up the old man told me that a typical day starts around dawn and the boats return back home around 3 in the afternoon. There wasn’t a need to venture far because the pulpo were biting about 4 miles off the coast. If luck was on their side, they would return back with about 45 pounds of pulpo.
I asked him how long he had been fishing for. He had learned the trait from his father but never had intentions of fishing becoming his profession. The old man said he had a chance to study, but felt nostalgic about being away from his parents, so he returned back home and has been a fisherman ever since. He has grown an absolute love for it and considers fishing his passion. His family business, a beachfront restaurant, is going well and apparently his wife has told him to quit fishing. He had a smile on his face as he told me what his response to his wife was, “Le digo tengo que pescar”(I tell her I have to go fish). For him, fishing is therapeutic. While he is fishing, he forgets about all the problems he might have on shore and just focuses on what’s necessary in that moment. When there’s nothing biting, he ends up linking his boat with fellow fishermen and share good food and conversation, so it’s always social and communal out there. The case was closed on why he continues to fish despite his wife’s wishes with the simplest and purest reason of all- “Pues, sigo la pesca porque me gusta” (Well, I continue to fish because I like it.)
I asked if his grandson was planning on becoming a fisherman. He said of course he would like to see his grandson succeed in whatever he might choose to do, but he is happy he will always have the trait of fishing under his belt. Over everything he wishes for his grandson to have a noble life filled with happiness.
I closed the conversation and thanked them both for their time. The old man seemed happy to have shared his story and the little boy seemed indifferent as he was busy playing on his Grandpa’s boat. I walked down the beach and found the perfect hammock and had my fresh ceviche, all the while reflecting back on what I had just learned. The conversation with the old man had taught me two things that day. One was that you need find your passion in life. Whether it be our jobs or our past times, there is no need to spend our valuable time not enjoying what we do. We forget in the hustle and bustle of our career or life goals that every moment of life is a gift and we should spend them in more things we love. The second take-away is, that everyone has a great story to tell and you’re possibly just one greeting away from opening the first page of their amazing book. I encourage everyone to converse more with people, ask questions, and learn about other people’s lives. It will open up doors for you, not only in travel adventures, but in perspective of how beautiful life truly is.