July 8, 2010

A Hook, a Fish Line and an Air Mattress: Improvised fishing with the kids in Negril

I am very happy with my daily routine in Negril this summer. For me, this routine involves happy writing each weekday morning, then having lunch with the family, and going to the beach in the afternoons. Being able to swim in transparent waters every afternoon is blissful for me. I have not missed a day at the beach in the six weeks we have been in Negril. Even when it rains, I will at least go for a long walk by the sea when the rain clears.

My three kids, however, have decided that they need more entertainment than simply going to the beach. Their morning routine starts with home schooling for two hours with their tutor, then playing in the yard with their friends until lunch is ready. There are two small children who live in front of us and they often catch butterflies or other small creatures together. My daughters also love to help our neighbor herd his goats and take them out for grass each morning. After lunch, they play video games, read, or play outside or inside. When I ask if they are ready to go to the beach, they often claim they do not want to go. Without exception, they have fun when we get to the beach; so, often the trick lies in getting them there.

Our latest “trick” is the promise of going fishing. The first time the girls went fishing, it was with some friends who invited them to go on a boat early in the morning. That boat trip costs US$50, so that was the only time they did that. Instead, now we rely on my husband, Fernando’s ingenuity, and the kids can go fishing whenever they want, practically for free. This is how it works.

Fernando buys some hooks and fish line for a few cents at the hardware store. They go to the nearby beach and look for sand crabs and snails for bait. Nando sets up the rudimentary hook, line and sinker. Then, he paddles the girls out on our air mattress to where the fish are. We have one of those inflatable air mattresses, and it works great as a raft! (You can see our fishing equipment in the photo behind us!)

The girls put on their face masks which allow them to see the fish underwater. Tatiana and Soraya – my nine year old twin daughters – love fishing like this. You can see when the fish begin to nibble at the bait. When you see them nibbling, you just pull a bit, and there you have a fish. When the girls catch a fish, they yell out in excitement. Nando pulls in the line and puts the fish into a plastic bag that he keeps on the raft. Then, the girls go back in for another fish.

The other day, they caught sixteen little fish, giving us plenty of fresh fish for dinner. The fish are small – so it is quite a bit of work to clean and de-scale all of them. But, it is definitely worth it to have the tasty, fresh fish. Plus, it is our best way to get the kids out of the house - for now, at least. I am sure that soon they will become bored with this and we will have to find a new way to entertain them soon.

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