Monday, May 23, 2011

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Fisherman in the Sea of Cortez start work at dawn and work until the sun slips below the horizon. Sometimes, their working hours are longer. We never heard any complaining about their long hours or the work, but we did did hear chatting and singing and laughing carried across the waters as they fished.
Up with the birds, a solo panguero sets off to work at day break.
There is a Zen proverb that addresses what life is like after enlightenment. Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. When we open ourselves to the awareness of our tasks, they can become lighter. Work is no longer a burden, but can be enjoyable. Indeed, even the most mundane task can be approached with mindfulness and give rich meaning to life. In the Baja California Sur fishing village of San Evaristo each fisherman exemplifies this Buddhist philosophy. There is no rushing about, just purposeful, graceful movements directed towards an end, but it is easy to see that the process is as important as the result.

The full moon has not yet set when the fisherman's day begins.
A day at the office in San Evaristo is seldom spend without buddies.
Fisherman casting their nets alongside sv/Tapatai
Most of the fish caught in San Evaristo are sold to markets and restaurants in La Paz, but there is always enough to sell or cook for visiting yachties served up with beans and rice at the local cantina. We saw mostly trigger fish, sierra, dorado, and yellow tuna being brought in by the fishermen.
After a day of fishing the fisherman gather at the waters edge to talk stories about their work, their families, and probably about the gringos anchored in their Bay. A beer or two may be shared in the process, but alcohol use is not prevalent in these small fishing communities. Part of the ritual also seems to include a group of local senoritas dressed in colorful t-shirts, tight jeans, and bright lipstick sashay by in an effort to catch the eye of their favorite fisherman. 

Comradery after a hard day at work
While the men relax after a day of fishing, the wives gather and share their own stories, and children of all ages play along the seashore chasing dogs or baby goats, or one another. The children run to and fro between the men and women, getting a hug or a toss in the air by any one of the community members. Children are loved by all, and are a great source of pride to their fathers and mothers. We were always amazed at how happy and playful adults and children were together, and 9 times out of 10, the children were exceptionally well-behaved. On Sundays it is not uncommon to see sons, daughters, and wives accompany their fisherman for a day of fishing.

David enjoys the San Evaristo communal scene
While some of the fisherman hung around and talked into the evening, others gathered up their families, and perhaps a baby goat, and boarded a panga bound for a picnic on the nearby island of San Jose. A simple and good life. Chop wood, Carry water.

Grace shines its light on San Evaristo

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