We woke up at 4:30am today, when the roosters just started crowing and the dogs were in deep sleep after an entire night of consistent barking at each other. We arrived at Palito beach by 5:30am ready to give line fishing a shot. This method has been the traditional way to fish on the island for centuries, but it has been replaced by net fishing over the years because of the increasing demand for more supplies. We took a boat out to the sea, found a quiet area, and settled there, ready to wait for the fishes to hop on. It turns out line fishing is harder than we thought. A giant shrimp was used as bait, pierced through a metallic hook attached to a thick fishing line with a set of weights. Then we simply threw the bait into the water and waited for nature to do its job.
We waited in silence for the first hour, and nothing. Then finally, “I caught a fish!” someone shouted, breaking the awkward, dull silence in the air, filling it with excitement and anticipation. It was a catfish about the size of my foot, the first and the biggest of its kind I’ve ever seen first-hand. After that, our group of ten caught three more fishes within the next hour. It was a different and unique experience indeed. We did line fishing for fun, and the frustration associated with not being able to catch a fish in the first hour was obvious. On the other hand, fishermen on Chira had to use line fishing as a way to survive on a daily basis, and being able to (or not being able to) catch a fish is absolutely vital to the survival of their entire family. Furthermore, with sustainability becoming an increasing concern over the past ten years, balancing their tools for survival with concerns for the environment is also an issue faced by the fishermen families.
In the evening, we were challenged by local soccer teams for a game of futball, as they call it here. With our hopes high walking into the unknown, we were ready to take on any challenges they have to throw at us. Not surprisingly, we lost the games, but we didn’t go down without a fight. Kids on Chira were born for soccer, both boys and girls alike. Walking down the street, children play barefoot on the sandy road under the sun. I would describe soccer here as the Costa Rican equivalent of hockey in Canada. It is their passion, and everyone grew up with soccer. Seeing the precision, teamwork, and connection shared by each member in the opposing team, I was looking at the reflection of how much our own ucalgarycares team has bonded throughout this adventure.
Tomorrow will be our last day on Chira, and I am not ready to leave. I will miss all the laughs our team shared as we recorded each epic quote, all the sunburns we received as we threw ourselves into the sparkling seawater, and all the mosquito bites that we got together during the countless Frisbee games on the island.