09 May Fishing with a Local Fisherman in Peru
Having grown up a sailor and frequent boater on the Chesapeake Bay, I was very much so looking forward to our fishing expedition while in Peru. Walking down the pier that Sunday morning there was a strong smell of fish; families working all up and down the pier slicing, stacking, and packaging their catch from the morning. By 10am, when we got there, these men had already been out fishing for hours and finished a days work.
We quickly met Antonio and Ever, the fisherman’s 11- and 8-year old sons who played with us on the dock while we waited for the boat to be cleaned. The boys knew some English as they are frequent students of WAVES school in Nuevo Lobitos- it was fun listening to them practice common phrases.
Finally the boat was ready, and we all moved from the dock onto a 20 foot wooden fishing boat with fisherman, Tulio. A flat, green painted sailboat was very different than a shiny, fiberglass motorboat that most of the group would have been fishing on before. Aside from the uncomfortable sitting conditions, the ocean rocked the boat and its passengers into a sea of discomfort – the only effect the Dramamine seemed to have was putting everyone to sleep.
Not under the influence of Dramamine, I sat at the bow and was very happily content on our ride out into the ocean, seeing Lobitos from the water provided a great new perspective. I thought of how many locals see that view every day as they begin their work at 4am.
Tulio talked to us about why he fishes, where he goes, how his grandfather taught him this trade as a boy, and then proceeded to teach us how to fish with just a line and a small plank of wood, a more primitive method than we are used to, but very effective – we all began reeling in small fish.
Later that afternoon Tulio came to the WAVES house and used the fish we caught to make fresh ceviche, a dish of raw fish, onions, lime juice, and cilantro.
Being out on the water with Tulio and his sons gave each of us insight into how many locals feed their family, make a living, and put food on the table. Going out fishing with this family spurred discussion of how to broaden their fishing operation and perhaps benefit from the tourism and development that seems inevitable in Lobitos. Although the fishing trip was one of our “fun” activities, I feel that our impact was still sizeable. We were the biggest group that WAVES has had, and the locals are all amazed that we have come so far to spend time in their little town.
As development begins in Lobitos, WAVES is working to help locals develop small businesses and capitalize on their own natural resources and daily tasks, rather than foreigners coming in and opening large hotels, restaurants, etc. So while we all had a great time out fishing, we unknowingly acted as an inspiration, not just to Tulio, but to all of the families that watched our large group meander down the pier that morning.
I will say that whatever impact we had on the local fisherman, does not quite compare to the impact that they had on us. Tulio and his sons taught our eager students much more about Lobitos, its history, and an inside perspective on the fishing industry that no book could have done justice.
Thanks to our volunteer, Maddie Greenlee, for sharing her fishing experience with us. Every volunteer that comes to Lobitos will get to attend one of Tulio’s fishing trips. Like Tulio’s Facebook page: LOBITOS Ocean Adventure to see more!