FIRST EXPERIENCE OF THE DAY (NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART): Since today was Saturday, the fishermen were bustling by the time we made our way to that part of the beach. I've rarely had such an eye-opening experience in such a short amount of time. We walked through the busy part of the beach with our guide (who mostly just wanted to see our faces, I think) for not even 4 minutes. In that short time I learned a ton.
First of all, swordfish are huge. I saw one that was at least 2 meters from tip to tail. Secondly, I'd never experienced quite the fish overload before. My senses were working overtime to understand everything. The sights were new, the smells were strong, and I had to pay attention to where I stepped. Thirdly, this whole shamole was quite upsetting because I saw with my own eyes that 1. humans absolutely overfish waters so no kidding species are dying out, 2. sharks are killed with other species of fish, which we inherently contribute to by being fish consumers, 3. I realized that by having eaten tuna from cans before, I had probably eaten shark, 4. overfishing these and other fish would not change anytime soon but continue every Saturday here because people need a livelihood, and 5. this was a tiny glimpse of a much larger phenomenon happening on a world scale. Overall though, I think I handled the situation better than Carol and Emily, who looked quite distressed. Mostly, I thought of it as an interesting cultural learning experience, so it was more fascinating than anything else for me. Lots of people were cutting up their fish right on the sand with machetes. I saw piles of fish heads and bloody sand, which was not necessarily reassuring for hygienic reasons, but interesting nonetheless. It was pretty chaotic, with people yelling here and there, seagulls flying overhead, noisy cart vendors showing off their catches, people tying up their boats, and so on. The worst part was seeing a shark head mixed in with swordfish heads. I know it's strange, but I was more upset about the one shark head than the piles of swordfish head and blood drainage, but that's probably because I've read quite a bit on shark harvesting and not much on swordfish population levels. (To see picture, click "read more" below).
While yes, I did ask myself "which country am I in again?" and noticed that the locals around me were much more nonchalant about the whole ordeal than I was, I was able to crack jokes about how delicious everything looked. Like I said, people do this because we as humans need to eat, and as somebody who eats fish, I think it's important to see this. It was like the first time I went to a meat market and was struck by how uncomfortable I was by hanging cow parts and lamb limbs. I'm a strong believer that being oblivious to the fact that eating meat means eating animals that were once living doesn't help anyone... it's neat to be reminded how shit actually goes down sometimes, even if it is striking.
In other news, EAT LOCAL!
(Only click read more if you'd like to see one of the fish parts piles I'm talking about.)
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