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A normal day at the office, a fishing tale
By Angelo Solanilla
Like hundreds of thousands of Panamanians, I set up the alarm clock before going to sleep. Tomorrow I have to wake up early to go to work. Time flies, the alarm bleeps at 4:00 a.m., I cannot believe it, I hardly slept at all. I check my briefcase for the last time, before leaving the house. I feel that I have forgotten something; I swear the stress is going to kill me.
I think, “Everything ready”, I start the car, attach the trailer with the boat to the vehicle and say: “We are going to the water!”
I arrive to the port and when the tires of the trailer get wet, somebody screams, “DID YOU PUT THE PLUG IN?” I know it is in, but uncertainty makes me check again. We look around, nothing near, the captain turns the key and the boat’s engine roars. At what time do the clients arrive?
Everybody aboard; we give safety instructions; ask God to be with us and to bring us safe and sound to port. The captain traces the course, temperature, oil pressure, GPS. Everything is working.
Our new friends, very excited, feel how the icy morning wind wants to tear off their caps. The first sun’s rays are changing from dark red to brilliant orange and they ask: “When are we going to start fishing”. I respond, “We are already doing it”.
An hour later, they look around in awe, when suddenly the captain changes course. What has happened? He answers that there is something ahead, and my poorly trained eyes cannot find what the captain has already seen.
A giant branch floating by gives the first signs and he starts giving instructions: “I want two small plumes and two cedar plugs”. Everybody obeys his instructions. Suddenly an alarm sounds “sssrrrsrrrssrrr”. Everybody is alert; there is a dazzling flash over the water, green, blue, yellow. Someone screams, “A mahi-mahi. It is struggling to get off the hook”. Another person says, “It is a giant”. It jumps for a second time, reels more line and moves away from us.
Suddenly the mahi-mahi feels that its end is near and finds strength and moves away again. A few minutes later both opponents are exhausted, however the fish gives up and we get it on the boat. Time to celebrate; praise begins; congratulations; the happy fisherman asks, “Did they take the video”, everyone laughs.
The day has not finished yet, we continue on our way. The captain smiles. In the distance we can see what we are looking for. Birds diving up and down are an indication that we should go towards them. I tell our friends, “Gentlemen get ready”. As we come closer we see dolphins, all the signs speak to us; we pass over the school; one, two, three —the four rods are trying to escape; everybody jumps.
Everybody is fighting; nobody can believe it; we put the first fish aboard, then the second and the third is near, but it decides to put on a show. It swims with all its might towards the bottom; the reel is about to explode; the fourth is already in the cooler; the third fish continues to fight near the surface. It uses all it has and goes down again. Suddenly the line tension is lost; the fisherman is tired, without wind and does not know what to do. His mind is blank; he cannot do anything except to reel the line.
Two seconds later we look at each other for the gestures; we know that it has gone. There is a stony silence. This time the prey won.
Everyone says it was the biggest. The captain calculates the fish weighed between 40 to 50 pounds. It is time to celebrate the other three.
Without realizing it, we arrive back at the port, mission accomplished. We check that nothing is left behind and tie the boat They begin to leave. They all say goodbye promising to return soon. They leave; we stay; we have to put the boat away and wash it; “Ufff” I almost do not feel like doing it. But well, work is work. It is almost night fall. I give a last look at our faithful friend who took us on this tremendous adventure. Like an idiot I say goodbye to him, as if the boat can understand.
I just want to get home, take a warm shower and sleep. As we always say, “One day’s fishing, beats the best day at the office”.