The Fisherman and His Wife
28 February 2019 | Paradise Village Marina
In the wee hours, before the sun rises, I make my way across the marina by foot. I spot a small rowboat anchored in the fairway with one solo light beaming from a pole mid-ship. The fisherman leans back against the transom. He is but a silhouette on the water.
On one side of the boat leans a fishing rod. In his hand he holds a single line with a lure attached to the end. He pulls in his catch by hand. Sometimes, he stands and gathers his net just so. With one graceful move, he tosses the net out into the sea. It opens up in a beautiful display, like a large, woven doily. He watches as it sinks beneath the water. He waits. The fisherman is nothing if not patient.
Night after night, he spends on his boat, drifting gently under the light of the moon, dreaming. Of what, I do not know. As dawn comes up over the mountains, the commercial fishermen gather around his boat to purchase today’s bait. This will be used for today’s local charters. The fisherman collects his fees and disappears into the daylight.
I imagine he takes his boat and pulls it up onto the beach, tucking it into the mangroves in one of the nearby canals. He gets into his beat-up pick-up truck. It doesn’t start. But, like I said, the fisherman is patient. On the third try it turns over. He backs out and heads home.
The fisherman’s house lies along a dirt road. His neighborhood is full of dirt roads. Dogs, cats, chickens and sometimes horses, wander the streets. He arrives at his dwelling. It is a tiny cement structure painted pink; his wife’s favorite color. It has two small windows with no screens or glass, only metal bars. There is a front porch with two folding chairs. The front door is open and the fisherman can smell the scent of corn tortillas and carnitas wafting through the warm, humid air. He likes that smell and looks forward to his meal.
He enters a modest home. It is one room with an alcove for the kitchen and another they use as a bedroom. It holds only a mattress and is separated from the main room with a cloth attached to the ceiling. There is a bath with limited plumbing. On the roof of their house are two large black containers. These hold water and heat up with the sun. This is the source of their hot water, for showers and for dishes. The main room is adorned with pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Jesus, a crucifix, and candles. There is a worn throw rug on the floor and blankets mask the holes in the couch. On one side of the room, near the alcove that holds the kitchen, is a Formica table with four chairs. The fisherman sits down.
The fisherman’s wife is in the kitchen. She is always in the kitchen. Except when she is outside on the porch gossiping with her sister. She tries to serve him coffee. Instead, he pops open a cerveza that he carried in with his cooler. Few words are spoken. The fisherman and his wife live simply.
Two young children run in from outside. “Hola Abuela! Buenos Dias Abuelo!” The children live down the street with their parents who have left for work. Their jobs are a long way from home and they must leave early to catch the bus. Each morning and afternoon the children come to their grandparents until their parents come home from work.
The little girl wants to know how many fish her Abuelo caught. “Suficiente.” (Enough.) He says. The older boy wants to know when he can go with his Abuelo fishing. “Pronto.” (Soon) The fisherman replies. Abuela tells the children to sit and eat their breakfast for soon it will be time for school. There is much chatter between them while the fisherman sits quietly, eating his breakfast and sipping his beer.
The children go off to school. The fisherman lies his tired bones on the soft mattress and falls into a deep slumber. The fisherman’s wife washes the dishes and then brings her coffee and pan dulce (sweet bread) outside and sits on the chair. Her sister arrives and they chat about the latest news of the neighborhood.
Later, the fisherman’s wife goes in to watch her soap opera. Her eyes fall heavy and for a few minutes, she sleeps. The children come home from school and their Abuela goes back into the kitchen to feed them snacks. The fisherman wakes up. The children’s parents arrive back from work. Dinner is served. The two chairs from outside are added to the kitchen table. They bow their heads and say a prayer of thanksgiving. They may not have much, but they have each other.
The sun sets. The fisherman’s wife packs his cooler and sends him off into the evening. He steps into his truck and on the third try he backs out and heads for the sea. All the while he sings a Mexican folk song. He smiles. He is content.This is his way of life.
Note: This story is a composite drawn from the many places we have visited and people whom we have met while here in Mexico.