Sunday, March 22, 2009

Teach a Man to Fish...

What an amazing day I had yesterday. The dean of San Pedro Junior College, Gustav, asked us if we would like to go fishing. Of course, this was an opportunity we did not refuse. John, Kristy, Dr. K, and myself were the lucky ones who went on this trip.  We had to wake up at 6:30 am to go the boat of Captain Guerro, who was the first tour guide on the island of San Pedro. This trip was fantastic because they took us through every step of the fishing process. 

First, we picked up Gustav and a carpenter of the school, Alberto. Next, the captain took us to a site where we would catch the bait. He finds the bait by searching for where the fish are surrounding the water. Our bait for the day was sardines. 

Next, the captain took us into the middle of the Carribean Ocean. He's been doing this for roughly 45 years, so he knows where the hot spots are. Now, anyone who knows me understands that I am not a big fisherman. The last time I went fishing was probably when I was seven and I had my child tackle box with beginner's rod. I was never successful, but on this day we couldn't go a minute without one of us catching a fish. After an hour of fishing, we caught 95 fish! They made it so easy. Mostly we caught snapper, but we also caught two grouper, one of which is endangered and we had to throw back; the same for the one puffer fish we caught. 

Once the fish were caught, the captain filleted the fish on the boat and Alberto made us a delicious ceviche on the boat, which is tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and fresh fish. They then squeezed fresh lime juice over the fish which, according to Alberto, cooks the fish. We actually saw the fish change colors from opaque to white. I was surprised to see that it actually cooked the fish on the boat. Then we got a chance to eat it with tortilla chips. Oh my goodness, it was so delicious. I've never had something like it before, but it is a very traditional dish here in Belize. It is something I will do my best to replicate when I get home to the states.

After the boat trip, we came back to the dock, where I thought our day was finished; boy, was I mistaken. When we got to the shore, Alberto began cleaning the boat for the captain and then they took the fish and put them on a stand next to the dock. Alberto and Gustav started cleaning the fish. I have never cleaned a fish before, but I had seen it on Top Chef and I was intrigued. However, I don't like touching slimy things so I was a little leery about touching the fish. When it was my turn, they showed me how to scrape the scales off the fish, gut it, and put three slices in the body. If you happen to grab a fish that is still alive, you have to take the knife and stick it through his brain...I purposely looked for dead ones so I wouldn't have to do that. I was very proud of myself for cleaning the fish, because this is something I would have never done. It was quite an experience. Gustav told us that he was taking most of the fish inland to sell, but he was going to give us ten fish for them to cook for the teachers on Monday at the school. This made us feel really good about our work.

Again, I thought our day was finished after the cleaning of the fish, but after taking the fish to the captains house to put them in the freezer, Gustav and Alberto invited us to play pool with them. Of course, we didn't want to refuse so we went to, literally, a whole in the wall with two pool tables and slot machines in a back room. After hanging with the locals at this little dive bar, we were ready to go home. This was a great way to end an amazing experience. After that, I was ready for a nap.

As a sad side note, I got an email from my Mom today that told me that my childhood dog, Murph, had passed away. This was very sad news for me, especially being so far away. Anybody who knows me, knows how much I loved him. He was a wonderful dog. Luckily, I got a chance to say goodbye to him before I left since I didn't know if he would live long enough for me to make it home. Everyone show your pets some love today. 

Until  my next adventure,


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