Overdue, overlength trip report..DAY 6...Fishing

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Escrito por Ket desde (?) el día jueves, 18 de mayo, 2006 a las 14:56:34 horas :

Day 6 Wednesday 26 April, 2006

I rolled out again at about 05:15, and since Dormie was not going fishing, and never even pretended like she had any interest in it, I rose quietly so as not to disturb her. This time I only kicked the cooler, and knocked the 42 bottles of shampoo and crème rinse and conditioner and oatmeal suds clarifier off the shelf by the shower as I was turning around with the camera bag attached.

I met Darrell outside and we went through the same routine as the day before except the screaming bird was waiting for us, as I think he pretended like he was sleeping until we were directly under his branch and he let fly with a piercing scream. I looked up and said “Didn’t even faze me, bird”, but he was already pretending like he was asleep again.

We arrived at the pier at about 5:45 and when we rounded the corner, there was Captain Amado, laughing and exchanging jokes with the guy at the store and a few other locals who were hanging out. He had a bag of peppers, onions, chilies, spices, etc. He spied me and yelled out “Hey, Ket…OK we forget about yesterday right now, OK?” “Of course” I replied. He continued, “Today, I have something special for you.” “Oh yeah, what might that be?” I asked. “We gonna have a some good eat, I have special recipe for Amado’s special Mexican sushi, yes sir, si senior! We gonna make it with the fish you haul today, best lunch you ever have on the sea or on the shore!” Darrel and I bought more ice to re-chill our Modelo lights and water, grabbed a couple more Red Bulls, bought some breakfast sandwiches and java from the senoritas outside and followed Amado down the pier. As we were walking I asked Darrell, “Hey man, what exactly is sushi? Isn’t it raw fish or something?” “Beats me, but if it is raw fish, and he expects me to eat it, we better turn around and get some more beer.” I laughed, thinking “Surely not?”

When we got to the loading area, there was only one boat hovering near the stairs, the Burbuja. There were two guys I did not recognize manning her, and the one behind the wheel expertly maneuvered her up beside the dock, and we all climbed aboard. Amado took the wheel and the guy who was driving, immediately grabbed a rag and started wiping the deck where we had just walked. Darrel and I took note and we removed our shoes and stowed them along with the cooler and cameras. Amado introduced us to his new first mate, Leollalo or something like that. I never did get his name just right, there was a lot of tongue rolling and lip twisting involved with his name that most gringos aren’t equipped to pronounce, so we started calling him Leo, which he seemed to like. Amado explained that Leo practically grew up in his house, and he had known him since he had a snotty nose and messy diapers which was all the time. Leo spoke very little English, so he was not laughing with us. We let the other guy out on another boat with an official looking guy with a badge, I assumed maybe they were like the Mexican game and fish, or harbour patrol, making sure we were doing everything up to snuff, but no one said and I didn’t ask. Our next stop was a little panga where Amado picked up some live bait-fish for us. That baitfish is what we call “keepers” in Wyoming. After the fish were stowed in the live-well, and Amado made sure everything was in order, he let the throttle out, and we were underway. It was pitch black, and I was confident that Amado knew where he was going; a glance at my indiglo said the time was 06:10. Amado noticed me looking at my watch and said “That’s right, Ket…first to leave and we’ll be the last to return…with fishes!”

After a rapid exchange in Spanish, Leo adjusted the boat lights to shine on the poles and overhead outriggers, presumably so other boats could see us as we cruised through the water. Being an airplane pilot, I am familiar with the tranquil feeling that emanates when you are in the presence of someone who really knows what they are doing. I took a seat in the fighting chair as we headed west and watched the shadow of our wake unfold behind us from the faint lights from the shores of the bay. I was starting to get this real spiritual vibe, and was thinking “Man, no wonder my Dad was so hooked on all of this…In fact I think… no I KNOW I can feel him looking down at me right now and grinning and telling God and the Angels, “Now that’s what I’m talking about”. I broke out in goose bumps and was choking down an emotional lump when I saw a spark fly out from under the boat. I rubbed my eyes and took another look…another spark, then another…no I was not seeing things. I yelled for Darrell to look out the back of the boat. He came back to see what I was so exited about and by this time, the sparks had increased in intensity. Amado smiled at me as I stood to try to see what the hell was happening, and he shut off all lights on the Burbuja. Now it literally looked like someone was using a giant welder under our boat and in her wake. The sparks had become so dense that it literally looked like we were flying on an intense blue cloud and trailing blue cloud dust, if you can imagine that. I cannot even describe this; the blue was more intense than fluorescent blue under a black light; nothing from the hand of man will ever duplicate that color. Amado explained that this is phosphor, or plankton and it will do this when the water and temp are just right. I had seen a few on the beach late at night, but this…this was stunningly surreal. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement… I remained rooted there and stared…speechless, someplace else…Amado was smiling at me, and gave me a little pat on shoulder. He understood…Thanks Dad.

Whew…we were out of sight of the land as the sun started to peek over some deep purple clouds when Amado slowed the boat and turned the wheel over to Leo. He went to the back of the boat and started to prepare the bait and rig the lines. Our light line barely hit the water, when the pole bent into an exaggerated J shape. That is more bait for us, explained Amado. Darrel reeled in a mackerel or jack or something that weighed probably five our six pounds. We even noticed the fish had a weird blue color through the water and phosphor. Amado was rigging some of the bait by cutting them, removing their guts, and sewing a large, strategically placed hook inside. He noticed me watching him and related this story. “When I catch record sail fish in Oaxaca, one reporter asked me how I have such good luck. He ask if I could think like a fish.” Amado then showed me his gut and scale covered hands and said “I say no, I no think like a fish, I smell like fish.” He and I belly laughed at his joke, though all I could smell was the sweet smell of the deep blue.

Darrel and I each reeled in a couple for the live well, when Amado informed me that we had enough, and asked if I would place the light pole in a holder over our heads. At 5’7” you could say I am a little vertically challenged by American Standards, and the same could be said for Amado. The last time I was out with him I remembered Amado saying something clever about short people being closer to God, so as I was standing tip toed and struggling to place the pole in its overhead holder, I asked him why we were so short. Without hesitating, he started to laugh and said “Because Ket, today you and I change the story…It’s not going to be ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, it’s going to be ‘The Short Mans and the Sea’”. This wasn’t the same one he used last time, but I loved it just the same.

About an hour later, the sun was up and intense and we had settled into an easy trolling velocity. We watched as a giant ship appeared on the horizon. A few other small fishing boats were visible in different quadrants around us. Leo said he was going up top to get a better look out and around. Amado said sometimes that is true, but sometimes first mate goes up there to look for fish on the inside of his eye-lids. He said this in English, so Leo wasn’t laughing along with us as he climbed up top. Soon, we were close enough to the ship to read German writing on the fan tail as she cruised by. I asked Amado what he thought she was carrying; he said “Prolly something Americans cannot live with out”. I didn’t really see what was so funny, but we both had another good laugh. I was contemplating cracking a Modelo to let the fish know we were there when Leo started banging on the roof, and spoke in rapid Spanish with Amado, pointing to our left. Amado changed course, and sure enough, we started catching brief glimpses of fins in the water. I couldn’t really make out if they were sails, or porpoises, or what, but my heart rate sky-rocketed and I was itching and prepared for the fight. Amado was starting his now familiar verbal interaction with the fish. “Oh, so there you are, we are here, the time is now, put down your cards and come to me, come to the Short Mans of the Sea, we have something to show you.” I was now in hypersensitive mode, and as Amado was looking forward, the pole on the outrigger to my right snapped into fighting mode. I sprang from the chair, grabbed the pole, gave my best hook-set and started to reel furiously…nothing. “What did you do that for Ket?” said a grinning Amado who was now beside me. “Remember he kill the fish with his bill first, then come back and eat it. Drag go to zero, count five then zing zing.” He made a motion like he was setting a hook. “That fish smarter than Ket… this time, but now we learned, and he in trouble next time he try to get a free breakfast right amigo?” “Right”. We had just retrieved the hook which at this time only contained the head of a baitfish, when the pole on my left jerked and pulsed. Amado grabbed this one and went through the practiced motions. As he set the hook he said “Oh, no way Jose’” Nothing. I said “Now he’s REALLY in trouble if he tries that again, right?”. Amado laughed hard and said “He have smart friend in the water with him, but we smarter, Ket, we smarter”. We got the lines re-baited and strung out. I had calmed down a little and was starting an internal debate with myself about opening a beer. The beer was winning this one, so I rotated the fighting chair to exit towards the cooler when, SMACK! The pole in the middle of the wake came alive. Before I could re-act and re-orient, Amado was there. This time the pole stayed bent and was twitching mightily. He handed the pole to me, and said “Now we fishing.” The reel was burning out line, and Amado was now back at the wheel, making throttle and steering adjustments to keep us in the fight, ensuring every chance of success. Leo and Darrell were bringing all the other lines in. I settled in the fighting chair. I saw the water boil about 100 meters behind us, and I asked Amado if it was a tuna. “I don’t know, why you ask?” It just felt different. As I was reeling, working and sweating, the twitching became less frequent, and the fish turned into more of a dead weight.

The two way radio cackled “Amado, Amado, Amado, followed by rapid Spanish. I asked Amado what was going on, and he said the other boats in the area were asking him where was the fish we caught. “Some people fish on the internet, some fish on the radio, but we fish in the SEA, Ket. The short mans fish in the SEA!” After only about 15 minutes, I could start to see the fish. “Well look here, now!” Exclaimed Amado. “We are so good, we make lasso for his tail!, we don’t even need a hook, we just throw out rope and fish fall for our trick.” I don’t know how he could tell this so early, but as the fish got closer to the boat I noticed that I had hooked him by the tail. In fact he wasn’t even hooked; the line had somehow wrapped itself around the fish’s tail, and he was indeed lassoed. He was not huge, maybe 30 or 40 pounds, and Amado untied him and made me take a rag and grab it by the bill to lift for a photo. “This is a special time for you and the fish.” The color of the fish was absolutely stunning, to say the least. Amado instructed me to put the fish in the water, and still hanging on by the bill try to revive him. I told him that I didn’t think it was working, as the fish was not moving. Leo took the wheel, and Amado took the fish from me. He said “C’mon, you wake-up”. I guess the fish didn’t understand English because Amado spent the next 5 minutes or so whispering to him in Spanish and tapping the fish’s cheek area and the top of it’s head. I caught something about “Your Mom, and your uncles” and “be proud little guy” but I couldn’t understand the rest of it. Amado then patted it on its side and took his hand from the bill. The fish started to swim, drunkenly at first, then saluted us with a defiant head swipe and took off for the deep.

After all of the poles were re-baited I had that beer, and then another and what-the-heck, I had a third…I was here. Darrell was now in the fighting chair and I was relaxing on the inclined cushion in the front of the boat. Some dolphins came up to swim beside us for a while and asked what was up, I think. Amado sped the boat up and changed course, saying he didn’t want to accidentally hook a porpoise, or have them snatch all of our bait. The dolphins and I stared at each other for a few minutes, and they too took off; I promised to say hi to their cousins at SeaWorld next time I was there and we watched them jump and play until they were out of site, though I kept catching glimpses of fins throughout the rest of the trip.

Leo had resumed his position on top of the boat and once again reached down and grabbed Amados shirt sleeve and said something in rapid Spanish. Amado once again turned the boat and I saw a huge white spot in the water a couple hundred meters ahead. Then I saw a large living thing burst from the water, defying the sea and gravity for about a second and a half and re-submerge amidst a huge splash and a lot of white foam. Darrell and I stood up and were gawking open-mouthed at the water, when an even larger apparition burst from the water, mouth wide open, and splashed over back wards. “Orca” said Amado. “I think he feeding on pilot whales today”. Darrell and I were stunned as we watched the huge fins break the surface, a belly flash here, a tail flying up there, a large creature emerging, followed by an even larger head of another creature, all the while the water churned to a white froth in about a 30 meter circle. We started firing questions at Amado, but he turned the boat and abruptly changed the subject. I’m not sure if he didn’t want us to experience the violence of the sea, or see a bunch of guts from the pilot whales, who were definitely having a bad day, or what the deal was, but the show was over as far as he was concerned. Darrell and I continued to stare, catching a flying body, or fin or tail, until the spectacle disappeared. Again, surreal. I was thinking “Man, there is a lot going on out here that most will never, ever understand.” The dolphins reappeared. I think they wanted us to see what was going on without getting too close. Maybe Amado can communicate with them. Either way he again sped the boat to get away from them. I repositioned myself on the inclined section. As I once again started to evaluate my good fortune at being at this place at this time, my mind surrendered to silence and slipped away…I would occasionally register a comment or word from Amado or Darrell, and I think Leo was speaking English in my sleep…
There arose some shouting and whooping and I rose to see Darrell standing at the back of the boat with a bent, violently jerking pole in his hands. Amado was helping him into the fighting chair and issuing calm instructions for the fight. I unpacked the video and started filming. I took the helm as Amado and a smiling Leo started pulling in the other poles. Amado asked me to change speed a little and change course which I did. “He turned and smiled at me and as he was patting Darrells shoulder said “Why are we so Perfect?” My thoughts exactly, amigo. Darrell later explained that while I was dozing, Amado had reeled in all the lines, changed the fish type, added a different colored flasher to each, sent some deeper, and basically changed everything. He was pulling out all the stops. He told us we weren’t going home until we had fish, and he wasn’t kidding.

As Darrell was fighting Amado told him to hang on to that fish, because the short mans are hungry. I looked around for the hibachi or gas grill, but saw neither..hmmm(?) Leo now had the helm and I was videoing in a feeble attempt to catch and share our experience. The water exploded about 30 meters behind the boat, and a nice sail was showing us what he had, tailwalking across our rear view, then re-submerged and started peeling line from the reel again. Leo expertly adjusted and Darrell once again started reeling. “I don’t think he likes the boat” said Darrell. “I don’t think he likes you!” countered Amado with a laugh. “Or maybe he hear what I say about lunch!” and really cracked himself and me up. Darrell was sweating profusely. Leo was dead serious as he continued to counter the fish’s moves.

When the fin next appeared behind the boat I crawled up to Leos perch on the top of Burbuja to get a better angle for videoing. With a great deal of splashing, running around, and confused looks from Darrell, the fish gave up. What a gorgeous sail; I captured great video of it in the water and coming into the boat. Amado said it probably weighed 40 or 50 pounds, but it sure looked bigger than that to this drylander. I relayed my observation to Amado who said, “Yeah, Ket, the more you drink the beer, the bigger he get…all night long. Ha ha…”

After a few more pictures, much back slapping, and cheers, Amado said “OK, now we eat”. The implication was clear and I once again began to search for the hibachi, gas grill, or at least a hot plate; OK, now I was worried. Darrell turned to me and quietly said “I’ll tell you one thing, there isn’t enough beer on the boat for me to eat a raw fish.” I tried to give him a tough guy look, but I secretly felt the same way. Darrell and I got into the cooler and toasted our good fortune.

Leo and Amado had re-rigged all the lines and Amado handed me the light tackle pole and told me to hurry and catch another mackerel for the rest of the meal. Sure thing Captain. Somewhat surprised, I soon reeled in about a three pound mackerel which was a beautiful blue and silver. “Well good work, Ket!” said the capitain who grabbed the fish and quickly sliced it down the middle revealing some of the reddest, bloodiest, meat I’d ever laid eyes on. He removed a couple of fat fillets and started dicing them up, discarding the still wiggling skeletal remains in the Pacific. I was glad to see the head go as well. Leo had cut a large portion from the back of the sailfish which bled profusely under the knife. I took the helm again and both Captain and first mate were jabbering and giggling excitedly in Spanish as they sprinkled chilies, peppers, onion, soy sauce, and some other unidentifiable veggies and spices, and limes over the fish chunks. “You gotta be fuh-reaking kidding me” I thought as I watched the meal take shape. I chugged a beer and said “Hey, Capitan, that stuff is not for Gringos, our guts can’t take it, amigo.” “I know”, he replied: “Today you are Mexicans!” “You fish like Mexican, You sleep like Mexican, You drive boat like Mexican, now you a gonna eat like Mexican.” Darrell just sat and stared at the drama unfolding. I wasn’t sure if the sweat on him was from the fight with the sail, or if he was about to hurl. “Cheers…to Amado, Leo and The Burbuja” I said as we clinked cans and chugged yet another. Amado and Leo each gave a Mexican cheer and went back to work.

Leo removed three spines from the fin of the sail, stuck them in some chunks and Amado declared it ready. He demonstrated how to use a spine, skewered a piece of the blood red mackerel, dipped it into the sauce and ate it. “Oh Jesssss” he calle out. “ Hmmm…” “Your turn, Ket”. Well, I guess it was time to once again cowboy up. I did as Amado had showed me; Darrell started busting out laughing and said “I can’t believe this”. “Believe, bud” I said as I held my breath and tossed the fish down the hatch. It took a second for the pepper to kick in, then the chili, then….say, this was delicious. Amado was anxiously staring at me, waiting for a response. I put my hand on his shoulder, and blurted out between smacks..ESTUPENDO AMIGO! I was not kidding, it was stupendous. The sailfish on a cracker was even better. “That would cost you 300 dollars in Japan” said Amado between bites. “Plus, when you get with your lady tonight, it will make you kick like a Mexican mule!” I will neither confirm nor deny that claim on this dignified forum. Darrell tried a few pieces, but just couldn’t quite get into it as I was. He says his hands had fish guts on them, and that sort of ruined it for him(?)I gorged myself alongside Amado and Leo.

It was now after 3 in the afternoon. Amado asked if we wanted to continue to fish or head in. Darrell and I were really feeling the activities, and we had told the girls to meet us at Amados at 3 or 4, so we decided to pick up the lines and “cruise on back home”. We rolled up to the restaurant at about 4.

The fish was unloaded with much fanfare and Darrell and I hauled it up to Amados where Darrell gave it to David the head waiter. A great celebration ensued with outstanding margarita, chips, and Coronas. My young friends buddies were not there today, so I practiced my language skills with David; we were teasing each other again, though my tongue was feeling a little thick by this point, much to Davids Amusement. I did a little disco western swing jig with Amados laughing grandson, but his little sister wanted no such sport, and made no pretensions otherwise, neither did Dormie as she informed me that I smelled of beer, onions, and fish. Go figure. All too soon, it was time to say our goodbyes, exchange hugs all around with promises of returning, etc. Leo gave us a ride to the pier in Amados little boat, and we were gone. Indeed, “The Short Mans and the Sea”. Sublime, surreal.

The girls had spent the day shopping, then hanging in the brilliant sun on Amados beach. They weren’t finished shopping yet though, so we started browsing the little shops by the pier before catching a cab. We were visiting one proprietress, and told her we had been fishing with Amado and asked if she knew him. She said she did and proceeded to give us a great history lesson about Amado, his family, and Zihua in general. This was very enchanting to hear this elderly lady speak so fondly of Amado and his family, Zihau, Americans, the changes in Zihau, and many unique Mexican perceptions. Needless to say we relieved her of quite a few items and returned to the VM around dusk.

We showered and returned to the pier and Daniels for Supper. I had bacon-wrapped shrimp which was good, though not nearly as good as the last time I ate there in 04. Dormie said the same thing about her food. Darrell and Catalina said theirs were good but not great as well. The price was moderate at like…250 pesos each couple.

We were all pretty whipped, so we went back to VM for a long rest.

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