Christmas with a spear-gun
So as a bit of context, for Christmas break we decided to take a real vacation and head to Moçambique for some sun, sand, and socializing. So on December 22, Trina, Chad (all the way from Western Province Zambia), Erin and I departed Mchinji after picking Chad up at the border and were on our way to Moçambique (for more details on our other times in Moçambique check out Erin’s blog at http://erininmalawi.blogspot.com/). So I won’t continue with the other details but rest assured that we arrived in Moçambique a day later and enjoyed a fabulous Christmas day and a remainder of a holiday and got a chance to hunt some fish.
What better way to spend some quality time together than getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning, heading to the beach, jumping in a boat and shooting a giant tuna!
The remainder of the day consisted of trying to track down the required inputs to fish with an ‘arma’ (spear), masque (mask and snorkel), and barbatana (flippers). This was an adventure in itself as we went from vendor, to local fisherman, to South African dive shop guy, to hotel, and back to local vendor and fisherman. It was about 9 pm when we final sorted out all the equipment that we would need: a mask, snorkel, spear gun, and flippers to share between the two of us – after all we didn’t want to fish out the ocean on the first go and we could only eat so much tuna in one day. So off to bed but not before preparing our meal for the next day and assuming that spear fishing is a lot of energy we cook up 2 packages of spaghetti, 6 buns with Nutella, and 6 litres of water.
The alarm clock always seems to go off earlier than it should and it was especially true the morning of the big day as it chimes off at 2 am. But with tons of anticipation, I am out of bed and throwing on clothes and a hat and grabbing our gear.
It seems that the weather was a bit questionable this morning so they wanted to wait to see how it developed before heading out. But, once we got the ‘alls clear’ from Antonio 15 spear fishermen appear all of a sudden as if they jumped right out of the sea. Once they arrive it is business time with getting gear in order, measuring out rope and measuring out the new kids. Before we jump in the boat and push off Antonio wants to know what are motivation is and I explain that we want to learn and try it out and that we will act like any other fisherman in his
boat. This is acceptable and the last thing we do before we jump in is introductions to the other fishermen on the boat. So I introduce Chad and I and as they stumble over pronouncing our first names I figure I will try something easier and switch to surnames “Teixeira” for me of course and “Silva” for my Norwegian comrade. Once I utter our new names we are welcomed enthusiastically, especially the new ‘silva’ as there already is one Silva on the boat whom becomes our new friend and guide.
The Original Silva---->
On the ride out we start to notice that we are the odd man out in more that one way. Firstly, we have no idea what we are doing which becomes apparent when everyone starts to prepare their gear. The spear that we thought was so impressive the first night pales in comparison to our fellow comrades and is about 20-30 cm shorter and with far shorter rope. And we brought a cooler of food with us while everyone else brought a small plastic bag. Regardless of this we try our best to fit in by asking a bunch of questions and paying attention to the ritual of preparing the gear. Chad Silva starts to sharpen and polish our spear, to the satisfaction of the crew, and we start to get questions both to and from our new friends. Before we know it they have taken apart our entire spear and are realigning it and brining it into top form.
The boat ride out to the fishing spot is about an hour down the coast where apparently there are
plenty of big fish – which of course we boast that we will kill a bunch of. As the boat arrives into position people start stripping off clothes and into underwear or wet suits that were former long under and start jumping into the water with only marker buoys indicating their position. The boat continues to drive along the coast as the fishermen jump out and begin diving to spear fish.
The boat skipper thinks that we should wait until the end of the loop where it is a bit shallower.
Needless to say as the boat pulls back up to
"So where's all the fish?"
Anyways I’m determined to put this fun to an end as
As my time draws to an end, even though fishless, I am glad to see the boat return to get a break and give
Boat Load of Fish
As the boat heads back we pull out our spaghetti and share it with the crew and it goes over fantastically. I can barely keep my eyes open and drift off to sleep for a portion of the ride back and as we pull near the island Silva gives us two of the fish that he caught that day as a gift. Once again I am reminded (but not surprised) by the generosity and kindness of the people that I have encountered during my stay here especially when considering that this is there livelihood. If the weather cooperates they head out everyday dive from about 6 am to 1 pm and catch as many fish as they can to try and sell them back on the island. These fishermen are one of the only sources of larger fish for the entire island and if they are successful then there is fish to eat if they are not then no fish. It is pretty incredible and was a great experience into their livelihoods and lives.
We get back to Erin and Trina and proclaim that we caught nine fish (all very small and on a fishing line nor a spear – but details, details) and had a great time! (and plan to do it again but won’t bring that up just yet)
In the end of the day we get to go home with a little bit of fish, a little sun, a great memory and some new found respect for a way of life.