Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Morning Fisherman

All year long, on the calmest of mornings, I arise to drink my Guatamalen Coffee and take my morning sunrise stroll, most commonly just out to the dock to look to see if any barracuda or rays might be lingering in the azure Caribbean Seas near shore.

Many mornings, especially when the sea is like glass, I watch as my neighbors from Hopkins Village prepare to fish as they have done for centuries.

The traditional ones still paddle thier dugouts out after casting thier nets for bait near the docks. After catching enough sprat to fish away the morning from thier dugouts they paddle into the sunrise with thier handlines in the bottom and a supply of palmetto leaves used for shading the catch.

The serenity of scene can only be described with photos as the fisherman shares the sea with pelicans and cormorants. Later, when he's back on shore cleaning his catch the frigate birds will signal to the villagers and savy resort chef's like myself that a fresh catch of snapper, grouper and barracuda is at hand. These are the same gentleman I buy my fish for such dishes as filet of snapper baked with pesto and blackened barracuda bites.

To observe the ritual in which my fresh catch is brought from sea to table is gratifying, we were all linked here not just to make a living, but to savor life. It made me feel just about as close to the food I serve as possible, until a recent trip to Dangriga to drop off some guests at the airport.

That's when another link in our intertwined lives near the sea revealed itself. When driving into town, over the 1st bridge, I looked up the river to see a gentleman, Mr. Fred Martinez, sitting in a partialy built dugout patiently chiseling the log which would later become the dugout. Another step in the process of catching fish, as the Garifuna have done for years. I will return to talk to Mr. Martinez as he was just one of those people I am drawn to. I asked him if I could photograph him and how long it took to build a large dugout like the one on which he was working.

He said yes I could take his picture if he could get a print to which I agreed readily.

How long would he be there working on the canoe?

About a month, and I'll be back. I printed him a copy and returned the next day to find Fred off at lunch somewhere, his chisel lay idle in the bottom of the canoe. I just stood there awhile, thinking of the canoe the old man had paddled out in the previous morning and thought about the lines that would lay in the bottom of this working boat, palmetto leaves and cast net at the ready. I must have been a sight to the Dangriga locals as I stood looking at a transformation ..from log to boat.....but I felt lucky to witness what is sure to become a dying art.

Since I had laminated the 8 X 10 glossy for him, I left it under his chisel and departed without seeing him, but I know he will be happy with his photo and I'll be back to take more.......You'd better Belize It!


Rae said...

Tony and Angie,
I hope you are doing well! Hopefully you faired the earthquake and all is well. I miss Belize and Hopkins everyday! I can't wait for when I get to return.
Best wishes,
Rae and Matt Dunn

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you faired the earthquake and all is well.

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