This past Sunday, Checha invited me to go fishing with three of his best friends. I was excited to see just how an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy fishes. When I fish in America I get out of my bed, put my rod and tackle box in the car, drive to the local store to buy worms then pick a local lake to drive to. In America fishing is usually personal time with my Dad for the main reason that we never catch any fish, so there is no need to pay attention to our lines. And now for Guatemalan fishing…
We had nothing to fish with when we left the house. First, we had to walk to a store to buy our line, which cost 20 cents. Next we had to walk to a different store to buy our hook, another 20 cents. We walked back to our house to grab the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper. This was going to serve as our fishing rod (see first picture in the hand on the boy on the left). The boys helped me create my rod. In many steps broken down to a few, you need to wrap the line around the roll, make a few holes here and there, attach the hook, and now you have a Guatemalan fishing line. I assumed that the next shop we were going to walk to would be for worms or bait. But there is not bait shop. Instead we had to find our bait. First we walked to the fishing location, which are the docks of the launches for the boats I take to work each day. These are the only docks on the whole lake. We looked below the docks and saw enough fish to take the next step. We walked to the beach where the sand meets the dirt and began digging for worms. All five of us dug with rocks for about 15 minutes, and were unsuccessful. Then one of the boys said we could get our bait in the trees, but it was a pretty long walk away. I had to see what he was talking about so I said it was okay. We walked to a farm 20 minutes away, which had trees with fruit in the shape of large peapods (I tried the fruit and it tastes like jicama). Supposedly inside some of the pods we would find little worms that we could attach to our lines. But they are not in all of them. Two of the kids climbed the trees and begin looking inside the pods.
It took about 20 minutes until one of the boys yelled (in Spanish) “We have bait!” We all began jumping and cheering. It was like we had just caught a fish in America, but all we caught was our bait. Little did I know that catching the bait in Guatemala is much more difficult then catching the fish. These worms were not American McDonalds super-size either, but more like what I would imagine Chinese McDonalds super-size would be. They were white worms the size of one rice granule.
We walked another 20 minutes back to the docks and began to fish. To fish in Guatemala you lay on the dock and wait until you see a fish swim by, and when that happens you drop your line.
As a group we caught SIX FISH! Granted they were the size of Little Nemo, but we bagged them up. After we were finished one of the kids took the bag home. I would say he took them for pets, but they were all dead by the time we walked home.
Yes finding our bait took longer then the actual fishing. But that leads me to believe that the word fishing should be a flexible cultural definition. To my family fishing is talking. To Checha, from what I saw, fishing is time to play outside of the house, and time to compete with friends. My time fishing with these boys was priceless. I hadn’t had this kind of fun since capture the flag in fifth grade. Checha was so happy when we were at the lake. Later that night I took him and Jaun (Jaun is my neighbor) back to the docks and taught them how to skip rocks. Probably will not be my last time I go Guatemalan fishing.