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Go fishing in Goa

A local encounter I’ll never forget.

Elena Sakharova


Yesterday I arranged with Goan fishermen, and today they are taking me for morning fishing. Not as a tourist for 2000 rupees, but as a friend for free.
At 5:15 I was waiting for the fishermen at the appointed place near the God’s Gift boat. It was so dark that I couldn’t see the color of the boat. Fishermen came, but I knew only the “Captain”. “I thought you would oversleep. But you’re here!” he said.
Six scrawny men read their mantra and started to pull the wooden boat into the sea. The boat was standing on wooden girders similar to the old railway sleepers. As soon as the boat went a meter forward into the sea, the “sleeper”, which was under the tail, lurched forward. So, the boat was coming closer to the sea step by step. As soon as the boat touched the water, the “Captain” waved his hand to me. I crept inside. I was the only person who wet shoes, because others were barefoot. They wore warm balaclavas instead.
There was no smell of the fish in the boat. Stars shined in the sky, and the lamps hanging from spread-out fishing nets – in the sea. There were no visible boundaries between the sea and the sky. In a half an hour in we stopped the engine and threw overboard a couple of kilos of red fishing nets which were filling almost the whole boat. The boat became spacious and cleaned up. The Captain said: “It is time to sleep”!
The fishermen, goodness knows where from where, took out rug blankets and laid down to sleep on wooden girders where they sat before. I was lying down too. It was impossible to straighten my legs because it was too narrow there. I was lying. I was suffering. It was cold and to uncomfortable to sleep. But just for me. Fishermen were snoring.
At dawn, I noticed that our boat was blue. Scrawny men in balaclavas began to pull up the nets. I was taking pictures, and the fishermen were smiling at me. Passengers on the passing by boats were interested to know who was that white girl onboard? I waved my hand in salute. Fishermen roared with laughter. Only a few large fish, which will be eaten today by tourists for lunch or dinner, were in our nets. You could feed the rest of the fish to cats.
Back on the bank, the scrawny fishermen removed the catch from their nets for a long time and seemed happy.They smiled with their brilliant white teeth as if they had ten kilos of select fish in the nets. As if it were not important whether they caught anything or not, as if it was nothing necessary for happiness, as if money wasn’t worth anything.

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