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Posts Tagged ‘Fishing’

Before we entered the fishing village, our guide spoke to us. Just on the outskirts and before our interaction with the locals we stopped to listen. He explained life in this part of the world, both the promising and the problems. He gave us a set of dos and don’ts when touring the huts made from the mud of old ant hills or when buying the local crafts for sale.  Yet, through all the conversation, my mind seemed to only focus on one item. The Tree.

river cruise on the KingFisher II to Namibia

From the Chobe Lodge in Botswana, the tour took us by boat along the Chobe River and entered Namibia. We also needed to enter immigration, complete forms on both entry and departure on each leg of the trip. In this corner of the world, if passport stamps became a currency, everyone who traveled would be rich.

But once the group arrived on the island of Impalila, Namibia and all our papers were in order, we set to hike the mile to the village. Largely uneventful along the dried mud trail, we eventually arrived to a clearing.  With the village in sight, and the lecture beginning I spotted the tree. It dominated the skyline.

Other details went in one ear and out the other until he started talking about the tree. Then – all ears. I learned that the upside tree known as the Baobab or Adansonia Digitata might be over 2,000 years old. A blase detail to him, to me incredible that this village sat at the foot of a tree as old as all the years of Anno Domini on the Gregorian calendar.

the African Upside Down Tree dominates the village

At that moment, I sensed a connection to something larger and even a bitter taste of my own insignificance.

Then it hit me – Avatar.

I recently watched and enjoyed the movie. Certainly I have my critiques, but as a whole, I enjoyed the main message. The message of  connection to your environment. And I don’t know if James Cameron walked through a similar village years ago, noticed a similar tree, and an idea sparked? Although, it would not surprise me.

I walked pass the craft market and headed to the tree. I touched it. I realized it might take more than 15 conected humans to hold hands around its base. Huge.

a walk thru the fishing village

Eventually, I reconnected mentally to the tour. We walked around the village, learned how locals construct houses, how the chief solves all local issues and disputes, and how men take many wives (apparently because of the fatal danger that lurks in the river – the Hippo).  A different world.

But hiking back to the boat, my thoughts only focused tree.  Captivated. On only the fourth day of nearly forty I’d spend in southern Africa I noticed a greater connection exists. This lesson would only repeat itself and get louder and more obvious as I continued with my African adventures.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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Oysters. For some, the ultimate delicacy, for others just another mollusk.

And whether you believe it’s a myth or a fact that about its aphrodisiac powers upon digestion, I think we all can agree, the fresher the better.  And nothing is fresher than pulled directly from ocean after you place that order. That is exactly what I found in Mazatlán.

With a city name that originates from the indigenous Nahuatl language, Mazatlán,  actually translates to “place of deer.” Yet today with access to some of the most abundant fishing, savory shrimps, and as I discovered fresh oysters, its nickname ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ seems way more appropriate.

And one afternoon on my travels in port, the quest was simple. Seafood.

buckets of fresh shrimp for sale

Every restaurant offers shrimps every which way. Buckets from the day’s catch fill the markets at prices of just over $1 per pound. And for lunch we ate many. Prepared all different ways; grilled, fried, with spices, with sauces to even raw. All delicious.

But after our shrimp fest, a fellow travel writer yearned for oysters. He loved shrimp, but his passion, his ultimate, was the raw oyster.  And that became our next mission. Our driver and personal tour guide for the afternoon made a recommendation for (a considered) an off the beaten path stop. Definitely not on the tourist trail, yet the stop was right in the heart of the city.

the view up the coast in Mazatlan

Just as the Malecón ends and right before the Zona Dorada (the golden zone), one of the three neighborhoods of Mazatlan, a turn off  takes you to the beach. Whether still dirt or just a dusty road I can’t recall, but the distance was short. And a few gentleman sat at the end on the steps to the beach just watching the pacific waves in the heat of the afternoon.

After the typical greetings, we placed our order. Oysters. A dozen to share. Two gentleman went off to see with a rubber tube to find (fish for) our Oysters.  Not at a restaurant, we realized we also need some cervezas.  Handing over enough pesos for an ochito, (an 8 pack, beers come in 8 not 6) another gentleman ran to the corner store. His tip – to share in the beer.

Men off to sea to fetch some Oysters...

The men returned from the sea and our feast began. I began to think about the story of the investment banker and the fisherman. A lesson I learned early in my Wall Street career.  I’ll sum it up.

A banker goes on vacation to Mexico and meets a fisherman. After seeing his plentiful catch, he explains to the fisherman that he has great opportunity. If  he works very hard, builds a business, then goes public (IPO) he can make a lot of money. He can become rich.

“Really, why?” replies the fisherman.

“Well, then you can retire, spend time with your family, and go fishing everyday.”

The fisherman smiled and said, “but that is what I do now.”

Something to ponder. Perhaps the pearl of wisdom found inside the oysters, perhaps a needed reminder for me.

Oysters served

I always said I’d retire by 35. And as I tasted a few Oysters, sipped a cerveza, I realized I did. Sure I was working, but I definitely retired. I was no longer chasing “society’s success,’ but created my own view of it.  A view I really enjoyed that afternoon.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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