Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teach English in Colombia: They Accidently Got Out

A Jurubida, Colombia Salt Water Fishing Day

The Still Sleeping Fishing Village of Jurubida

Dawn broke about 530 am. For the first time in days, it wasn’t pouring rain, unusual for the Choco, the wettest region in the world. Instead a lazy pink glow began growing in the eastern sky above the rainforest behind the still sleeping fishing village of Jurubida on Colombia’s Pacific coast. Almost all the fishermen had long since braved the waves of the incoming tide and headed out into the arms of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes fishermen like Heriberto, didn’t come back, locked in the sea’s embrace forever. His wife still waits to this day for news that will likely never come. The sea doesn’t like to give up its secrets, you see.

Gliding across the glazed surface of the Jurubida River, I glanced over at the simple houses that lined the shore. They were mostly wood and Cana Brava construction, typical of the region. The materials were relatively cheap, readily available and the most weather-resistant of the regions nearly forty feet of rain annually.

Looking for a Passage through the Waves

My neighbor and local fishing guide, Pepe slid the wooden launch back and forth across the shallows of the incoming waves, left and right, looking for a passage through the waves to the open sea. Pausing the outboard for a few seconds at one point, he then suddenly throttled up, breaking through a low-riding wave front and we were free of the incoming tide’s onslaught. Not more than ten minutes across the blue green waters low swells, we dropped in 40 lb. test mono trolling homemade stainless steel spoons with wire leaders for saw-toothed Sierra. It didn’t take long for the first connection which violently jerked Pepe’s arm backwards, partly spinning him around at the helm. He pulled in the first hit of the day hand-over-hand, swinging the silver cigar-shaped predator into our 16-foot locally-carved wooden launch. Half a dozen fish later the action slowed and we moved on, circling the group of morrows just over two miles off Jurubida’s shoreline. The thousands of sea-going birds that inhabited Morrow Pelau complained noisily at our disturbance flying low across the waters where they themselves fished.

We anchored half an hour later on an undersea plain about 60 feet deep.

Bottom Fishing for Roaming Schools

Lets bottom fish for roaming schools” I suggested.

Pepe reluctantly agreed. Were it up to him, we’d troll the whole outing. But gas prices had shot up and a day of trolling would be a costly one. Better, I thought, to troll between fishing spots, then let my Penn reel do its work. There were actually three of us in the launch, Pepe’s early-twenties son was also along for the Day. Mute from birth, he had a sign language system worked out so almost everyone in the village “understood” him when he “spoke”.

We needed some bait, so we jigged light lines with three dropper hooks twenty feet or so down. Results were immediate and we pulled four inch long baitfish in by twos and threes for the next hour. Then, apparently noticing the commotion, predator schools of Champeta moved in and we were now pulling in edible game fish. Then it got even more fun as Sierra now moved in after the Champeta and baitfish. These tended to be smaller than we normally caught trolling, but were a pan-sized pound or two pounds. We rode out the flurries of action and lulls for more than two additional hours before moving on, trolling to the next couple of spots. Shouted conversations with other fishermen guided us to a large swale of mixed bag predators and other game fish.

My Penn Reel Sings

My Penn reel sang as something different grabbed my scared live baitfish. My rod tip bowed until it nearly touched the water.

What is that?” asked Pepe.

I fought the fish to the surface and Pepe’s son whistled in astonishment. The fat, three-foot long caramel-colored eel surprised me too. Fatter than my forearm, it was in a foul mood to boot.

We have to kill it right away” warned Pepe in his excitement.

Not only was it a line-tangling menace, but the teeth made it far too dangerous to be safely boated without first dispatching the creature with a couple of quick machete blows to serve the spine just behind the head. The cold, emotion-less eyes said nothing of its thoughts or intentions, even after death. I’d no sooner bagged it and re-cast when its even larger mate again set my reel to singing.

Later action on the part of all netted us more than 50 fish, including several beautiful yellow-finned “Bobos”, before we called it an early day and headed back to port. By now it was nearly 11:00 am and the sun was starting to take its toll. It never clouded up all morning and the tropical sun can fry you like a piece of bacon if you’re not careful. By 11:30 were back in Jurubida, fish divided up amongst the three of us and fish-cleaning, for a fresh seafood lunch, was already underway. We had enjoyed yet another successful, typical fishing day in the tropical waters off Colombia’s Pacific coast. The region is one of abundance in its extensive variety of flora, fauna and sea life. I marched triumphantly into the kitchen but was stopped short. They were everywhere.

They Were Everywhere

Mud-covered legs were scurrying all over the place. Scratching, clawing and climbing over any seeming obstacle.

Where in the heck did all these come from?” I asked my wife Doris. Looking up at me with saddened eyes, she said, “They accidently got out”.

"What accidently got out?, I blurted.

So I went from one episode almost immediately into the next, but that’s another story.

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