1.Going Fishing … or Not

Chapters: Meeting Damiana | Going Fishing … or Not | Exploring | Camp Life | Trips to Town | Looking Back

We awoke the first morning to soft music from the family’s sleeping quarters. High and low voices and lots of giggles drifted our way as they came to life. Robert bounced out of his sleeping bag as soon as the crewmen stirred in their camp across the road. He was building a friendship that he hoped would lead to an invitation to accompany them fishing. He had done a lot of fishing on the Oregon coast and was eager to see how it was done in San Carlos.

I joined him at the crew’s fire until Damiana called us for breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and coffee. As we finished, young Philipe and one of the crewmen hauled a basket with small fish in it down to the boats. Damiana pointed to where Lingo was hanging a lightweight net to dry and told us there was a fresh water lake just inland where they caught the baitfish.

The men began to load up the boats and Robert hurried to give them a hand. He gestured and laughed at lot. When Alejandro, Philipe and Jorge jumped in the first boat and left without him, Robert turned to help Rosalio and Lingo, ever the optimist. When they, too, left him on the beach, he was close to tears but mugged a sad clown face to recover.

That night I spoke to Alejandro on Robert’s behalf and asked him directly if he could go out with the men the next day. He considered the idea and then said yes. Robert was thrilled.

Our camp from the bay

After dinner, the men left in the boats to catch bait by dynamiting a shallow area of the bay and capturing the stunned fish with the throw net, another practice that made me cringe.

We awoke at midnight to high gusty winds. Clouds whistled overhead. The sand pelted like rain on the side of the nylon tent. Robert was worried that the fishing might be cancelled but we learned that even during the day the wind never stopped.  Sometimes stronger, sometimes a breeze but always there.

Robert awoke at five and peeked out of the tent repeatedly for the next two hours just in case the men forgot about him. The morning was calm and after breakfast, Jorge and Rosalio invited him into their boat. Robert left shore that day with a big grin on his face.

When the boats returned several hours later, the grin was gone and Robert’s face was pasty. He had caught the first two fish of the day but then got seasick. He held onto the fishing line until he became too preoccupied with his stomach to concentrate. Then he just gritted his teeth until the men had their catch and returned to shore. Jorge and Rosalio thought it was very amusing and Robert accepted their good-natured teasing with his usual aplomb and then collapsed in the tent for a welcome nap. The men asked him again to go on a longer trip a few days later, but Damiana gently explained that they were joking because he would have been a liability to them for that kind of a trip.

Cleaning up after the fishing trip

Lingo and Rosalio took us to the baitfish lake one afternoon. Lingo gathered the weighted circular throw net just so and threw it out in a lovely swirl. It hit the water in a perfect circle and sank, trapping the little fish under it. Then he carefully pulled it up and carried it to shore with much puffing and panting. When he shook it, the silvery fish rained onto the ground and Rosalio pounced on the bouncing mass and threw them in the basket.

Go to the next chapter: Exploring