Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta fish. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta fish. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 26 de septiembre de 2016

Kodiak

   Winter had been very hard on the people of Kodiak town. It always was. Snow had fallen every single day in copious amounts and wind had blown from the mountains towards the ocean with a constant force, never going faster or slower. Everyone there was used to that and they knew exactly how to deal with what nature had to offer to every creature in that corner of the world. Kodiak was very remote and it could only be reached from the outside world if people dared to do a three-day trip to through the frozen desert and the dark forests.

 That was the reason why people in Kodiak were self-sufficient. They went fishing into the ocean every single day, In order to have their three meals a day without exception. They had learn to plant some vegetables thanks to the help of two scientists who had come from the outside world fairly recently. They had taught the people that they didn’t need to plant in the ground but they could do it practically in the air with only the help of water and compost made with the feces of the dogs everyone had. It had been a really revolutionary thing for all of them.

 The scientists had done the trip because they were very interested in the culture of the people in Kodiak. They wanted to document every single thing they could find, including the way they fished, the way they hunted for creatures in the forest, how they built their homes and other traditions that hadn’t changed in many years. Stella and Norman Ruiz had always wanted to have a big adventure and be in the forefront of discoveries in the world and now they really were. So much so that they had decided to stay for a longer time than predicted in Kodiak.

 At first, people didn’t trust them at all. It was a normal reaction as outsiders were very rarely seen in the region. Normally, they would only come to take the riches of the land for themselves and steal the people from what was theirs. So the moment the couple arrived to Kodiak, everyone agreed they should be watched every single moment of the day no matter what they were doing or where. They would always have an escort. The only moment they were left alone was when they slept in their assigned house. However, someone was always waiting for them in the mornings.

 The couple found that fear understandable and had nothing to say about it. They thought it was best not to antagonize with anyone and just do what they had come to do. That was how they gained the trust of the people: through wanting to know more about their culture and traditions. At first, they were all very reserved and only talked with short sentences. But after a few weeks, men and women opened up to them and realized that Norman and Stella were not bad people at all. They were genuinely interested in them.

 However, that didn’t mean they instantly trusted every other outsider. Just a month after the arrival of the scientists, there was a problem with a group of men that had come out of nowhere. They never revealed their names or if they worked by themselves or for someone else. The point was that they had established a camp in the river running close to Kodiak town and were using chemicals to clean whatever small stones of gold they could find in the muddy bed of the river.

 The inhabitants of Kodiak noticed the chemicals when two of their children got sick one day. The local doctor, who was more of a shaman than anything else, noticed they had ingested something and the Kodiak almost instantly thought of the fish they had caught that day. Some thought it was a punishment from the gods because of their acceptance of the scientist but it was precisely them who found the real source of the problem. Stella and Norman were certain it was not the fish but the water who had some polluting agent in it.

 The people of Kodiak didn’t know whether to believe or not what the scientists were saying. But a couple of them decided it was best to check their version out and it was then when they discovered the miner’s camp and the use of chemicals to clean gold. It was a very tense situation, as the people of Kodiak asked the miners to please leave but they wouldn’t budge, claimed that river and all the land around it was theirs. Norman went there to help and the miners showed him a paper signed by a federal authority giving them rights over the land.

 It was very hard for the scientist to tell the people of the town that the paper said exactly what the man claimed. No one understood how that was possible, as the government had never came into contact with Kodiak, even though they perfectly knew that it existed. It was then when everyone trusted the scientists so much that they told them the origin of the town and showed them other documents they possessed, stating that outsiders had created Kodiak. It was the best-kept secret in town as it was always thought natives had founded the town.

 The elders explained that, although many native tribes inhabited the region in years past, the reality was that they were all nomads, going from one end of the country to the other. It was only when the whalers came and founded the town that a settlement came to exist. However, the whalers were not well equipped to survive the harsh conditions, so they abandoned the town. Not a long time after, one of the tribes took possession of the houses, restores them and built more. Kodiak was reborn. The outsiders had left everything behind, including those papers.

 So it was easy for Norman to conclude that the miners had a false document, as the one the people in Kodiak had predated it by many years. He decided to tell this to the local authorities and let them deal with it. It was the best as the miners saw him as a traitor to his own people. Even if they were clearly not the same, they were all outsiders and that united them in the mind of the miners. They ignored whatever the people of Kodiak had to say and told them that they wouldn’t move until they had found every single piece of gold the river possessed.

 Tensions kept rising as the days went by. The children were getting worse and people were now forbidden to drink water from the river. The two scientists decided to do something: they decided to send a letter to the authorities with a local resident who was going to look for medicine for the children in the outside world. In the last minute, Norman decided to go with him, leaving his wife to help the people and try to avoid any time of conflict with the miners.

 But it was too late for that. The residents of Kodiak were not going to put up with it so, each night; they decided to sabotage the machines and everything the miners used to process the gold. They stole some of the chemicals and buried them in the forest and tried several times to destroy everything but the men were many and they would rebuild every day. It seemed as if they had unlimited resources of some kind. That went on for some nights until the miners had enough of the interruptions and decided to do something: they killed one of the intruders.

 No one had murdered in that region in many, many years. Not since the tribes had united into one a long time ago. People decided they would not take it lightly and they didn’t: that day, almost every single Kodiak man walked the side of the river in order to reach the miner’s camp by nightfall. Once they arrived, they started shooting their arrows, some of them with fire in order to burn every single tent to the ground. The miner’s attempted to defend themselves with more modern weapons and they were successful. The scene was bloody and chaotic.


 It fortunately ended very soon, as a regiment of the federal army arrived with Norman and the Kodiak man he had left with. They had brought medicine and were there because they had seen the fire. The government recognized that Kodiak was a native city and miner’s had no permission to be there, at least not yet. The government was cleat that anything could change going forward. But at least that threat was no more. The miner’s left and the people of Kodiak were left to their own devices, for the time being. The scientists never felt, feeling that was their real home.

jueves, 7 de julio de 2016

By the lake

   On his request, I sat outside the trailer, sitting on my green folding chair. I could hear his rattling inside and wondered what he was doing. Of course, I knew he was cooking because, earlier in the day, I had seen him fishing for a long time. He had woken up at the crack of dawn to do it and when I got up he was still there, very quiet and with his headphones blasting some rock music into his ears.

 I scared him a bit when I kissed him on the cheek without notice. He almost fell from the stool where he sat when he fished. But after his initial scare, he took off his headphones, kissed me back and greeted me wit a huge smile. His bucket was fool and he was very proud to announce he was going to cook lunch for the both of us. I tried to tell him I didn’t really ate fish, had never really been into it, but he didn’t let me say a word. He was too excited.

 So I stayed outside as he cooked his very special recipe. He had caught enough trout to last us for the rest of the week. The lake was filled with them or so they said. As he did his thing, I sat down outside and enjoyed the sunny day. This was after we had showered and had some breakfast, something simple not to steal the leading spot to the fish we were going to eat later in the day. He was so excited about it that I just smiled and nodded at everything he said.

 The lake was a very peaceful place, even for a spot were so many small hotels were located. There was also a very big presence of people who practiced several types of watersports. Some even brought their sailing boats in order to practice for competitions. It was kind of relaxing watching them go from one side of the lake to the other, floating over water so easily it made your soul feel at ease.

 Paul came out of the trailer for a bit, only to tell me he had already gutted the fish and it was ready to cook. But it wasn’t even midday yet so he decided to step outside and seat next to me. His folding chair was yellow and mine was green, our favorite colors. He took my hand and relaxed, watching the birds fly by and feeling the beautiful breeze that made waves on the lake.

 It was a cold wind too, as the lake was located up in the mountains. But the day was unusually sunny and people were visibly trying to enjoying at its fullest. As the day went by, I could see more boats on the lake, even those ones in the shape of ducks and other creatures. We waved at them laughing, as it was a little bit ridiculous. But it was so much fun, especially with him by my side.

 After a while, he went in again saying it was time for cooking. I almost entered the trailer behind him to go to the bathroom but he prevented me from doing so. He said he didn’t want me to see any of it so I had to remain outside. I told him I really needed to go to the bathroom, as I had drunk a very big glass of orange juice. My throat was a bit sore and I thought the juice would help in making me feel a little better.

 Paul told me to go to one of the hotel or something. At first, I thought he was joking but then I realized he wasn’t. He was very serious and the whole place smelled strongly to fish. So I decided to tell him to let everything exactly as it was before and then I stepped out. He even closed the door on me, which I thought it was unnecessary but apparently he felt he was going to do something so incredible that it was better to keep it a complete secret, even from me.

 I smiled. My heart belonged to him and I knew he had always dreamt about being a real chef. He was always buying and reading cooking books at home and he often tried to do what he had learned in our kitchen. The difference was that he couldn’t really kick me out of our own place. I think he did that by the lake because he felt the place called for it and I couldn’t agree more.

 So instead of insisting, I decided to go for a walk and explore the vicinity as Paul did what he had to do. I started walking by the edge of the lake, watching people having fun in their boats. Some were riding one of those floating things that you ride and when it too bouncy you fall into the water. I really wanted to try that but then I realized it wouldn’t be too nice if I showed up wet to lunch.

 I kept on walking and remembered I needed to go to the bathroom. So I woke up a small hill and arrived to a small hotel that handled some cottages overlooking the lake. It was also the hotel that managed the area we had parked our trailer, so it made sense to ask for the bathroom there. The owner was a very nice lady who seemed to be as old as time. However, she moved very fast and seemed to have her senses in much better shape that most people.

 She gave me the keys to her private bathroom and it took my only a couple of minutes to be done. I cleaned my face watching myself on her mirror and realized I looked rather good. We all have those days when we think we look particularly great. We also have those other days when we think we look awful but, thank God, I hadn’t had one of those in a long time. In my day to day, I rarely used the mirror but the bathroom was so small it was not really easy to avoid looking yourself in it.

 When I was done, I thank the owner and decided to keep walking around the lake. I decided to make a full circle around it, as it wasn’t that big and I knew Paul needed time to cook. So I started walking, by another hotel and then a patch of tall grass filled with mosquitoes. I almost had to go into the water to avoid it. After that, there was a small forest of eucalyptus trees. It was nice to see the brown leaves on the ground and the sound they made as I walked on them. There were birds chirping and I could even feel there were squirrels somewhere above me.

 As I came out of the forest, I noticed someone had a problem in the lake. A lady in of those rowing boats was calling for help. Apparently her husband wasn’t feeling very well. She was yelling towards a place located further ahead on my path. It was the rental area where people that weren’t staying in any of the hotels could just grab a boat and have some fun for a couple of hours.

 I glanced at the woman and then at the rental area and noticed two men getting into a motorboat, going to the rescue of the poor woman. I kept on walking as they arrived by her and grabbed her husband who couldn’t apparently move. Probably a heart attack or something of the sort. She jumped from their boat to the other and then one of the guys that had come for them tied the rowboat to theirs with a rope. It looked nice how one little boat tagged along with the other. The journey to the shore was rather short.

 By then I realized I was halfway from my trailer. I tried to see if Paul was looking for me yet but I couldn’t see anyone waving or anything like that. Even if he had been outside, I doubt he would have seen me, as we were but very shortsighted. One of the many things in common we had. So I kept on walking through a very large area with only grass and some floors growing in peace, with no one grabbing them or taking them home.

 I sat down there for a while and breathed in a lot of that fresh mountain air. Then, I lay on the grass, enjoying how it felt, closing my eyes to try and seal that memory into my mind forever. It was very nice to be there, after so many things had happened to us in the last year. It hadn’t been easy at all but this small trip was kind of a prize for the both of us. I stood up and kept on walking, thinking we were much stronger than we thought.

 My last stop was close to our trailer, were lots of people were raising kites into the sky. There were lots of children but also adults that tried to teach them the proper technique to make everything perfect. I looked at their kites for several minutes, floating high in the air, doing the most peaceful think I could ever imagine. It was so nice to be there and not thinking about anything else.


 When I neared the trailer, I felt the smell of food. As I sat on my chair, he came out with a white wine bottle, which he poured into two glasses. We made a toast for ourselves and for that beautiful place and then we ate, talking about everything. It was delicious, every single part of lunch. But what was much better was to have gotten there with him. That’s why my hug after finishing eating was unusually stronger.

viernes, 22 de abril de 2016

Notice

   I took my shoes off on the wooden walkway, as well as my socks, which I put inside the shoes. I stared at the ocean for a while before I realized I was alone and it was no surprise: a very cold breeze was blowing that day and there was no way someone would choose that time of day to go around and have a stroll by the ocean. Well, except me of course. I stepped on the sand and was surprised to feel it very cold and humid, contrary to all my other experiences at beaches. That sounds odd but the point is I had never been in a “cold beach”.

 I walked slowly towards the ocean. Mid way between the end of the walkway and the water, there was a big rock the appeared to emerge from the deepest parts of the Earth. I left my shoes on it and took a couple of seconds to raise my jeans as high as I could in order not to get them wet. Minutes later, I was in the water, enjoying the wind and the sound of the ocean crashing and forming foam all around me. Somehow, I felt free and better than ever.

 I stopped being alone after a while, when several seagulls landed near the rock and started poking the ground for food. I was surprised to see that one of them was able to pull a crab as big as my fist from the ground and then another one did the same. And then maybe the biggest bird of them all decided that my shoes were food or maybe my socks.

 I saw the bird exploring it all with its beak and I had to run like crazy back to the rock to scare the bird away. I always couldn’t do it because the seagull was not impressed by me running towards it. I had to scream and open my arms, as wings in order for it to release it just couldn’t win. It finally took off and I was able to grab my shoes but, as I pulled out both socks to see it the bird had damaged them, I felt a severe pain.

 Birds are not as stupid as we think. As it happened, there was a small crab inside my shoe. It must have gotten inside of it when I decided to go and soak my feet into the water. It had closed its larger pincer on one of my fingers and I had to shake my hand real hard until it released me. It fell to the ground and I hoped the big seagull would eat it. My finger had a deep cut and that ended my time on the beach.

 With my other hand, I put the socks on my pocket and when I reached the walkway I put on the shoes with no socks on. It wasn’t the best way to go but I just wanted to go back to where I was staying and cure my finger. It wasn’t a long walk, as the small bed & breakfast was on what they called the waterfront, even if the beach could not be seen from the rooms. I felt the blood dripping but didn’t mind at all.

 I asked for my key in the reception and once I had gotten into my room, I checked the front pocket of the bag I had brought and pulled out a Band-Aid. Then, I went out to the bathroom and cleaned my finger under the sink. It hurt but the blood worried me a bit more because it looked darker than usual. I tried to think about what I had eaten recently but couldn’t really remember eating something strange that would cause such a strange reaction.

 When I was finished, I put on the Band-Aid and went back to my room. I decided to stay there for the rest of the day and just be safe away from any crazy injuries. And then I removed my shoes and realized one of my feet hurt. I had a blister on my heel, probably because I had worn my shoes with no socks. My feet were really sensitive so I decided no to touch it too much and just rest my feet, my hands and everything in that room.

 Minutes afterwards, rain started pounding against the window’s glass. I had started reading a book I had brought but I had deceived myself again, because I couldn’t go beyond page five. I just read the same words, again and again, and decided to leave the book and just try to have a nap. After all, there was still light outside. So I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but just couldn’t. My finger felt as if it was pumping an amazing amount of blood and my foot hurt a bit if I moved. I felt so stupid and silly, being there just doing nothing.

 But I knew I wasn’t the kind of person to have adventures every four seconds like other people. I had discovered, through friends, that people normally lied about that so I felt less self-conscious, but I knew that somewhere, some person was actually having a lot of fun and just enjoying life. I was the kind of person that couldn’t walk without getting blisters or attacked by birds. Other people had no idea what that was like.

 It was after thinking all of these things that I felt asleep and did so for about two hours. I had no dreams but rather a really calm sleep. So calm in fact, that I woke up exactly in the same position I had fallen asleep in. That never happened at home anywhere.

 I decided to put some thick socks, the shoes and try to see more of the small town before I had to leave in two days. I had found about it when booking my holidays and decided that, after getting to know a large city, I also wanted to get lost in some small town when I just could feel that I was discovering a brand new world every single day. I had lived that many years ago and just wanted to have that feeling back with me. Besides, I was tired of cities and their people. I needed a change.

 I stepped out of the hotel, having left my key again with the receptionist who would always be on the phone or playing with her cellphone. I didn’t have my cellphone with my, on purpose. The first reason was that it didn’t work on the country and the second reason was that I did not want any distractions from my normal walk. I just wanted to open my eyes and look at people and their normal environment and whatever that part of the world had to offer.

 The town’s main square was located just ten minutes away by walking and I could tell it was a lively day for the town. There were more people that I could have imagined and many nice shops and tents all over were vendors would sell local products, mainly made from oatmeal and wild flowers and lemons. They even sold fish in some of them and the smell made me feel better, even if I didn’t really like fish.

 I went all around the market and then realized that people, some people at least, were looking at me. They seem to point and then hush and then be on their way and that for me was very strange. Back in the city I had visited earlier that week, not one person had ever acknowledged my presence except the ticket vendors in museums and waiters. I even had to yell a lot in a restaurant to get some service. But something was weird in that small town.

 Or maybe, I thought, I was imagining it all. Maybe I just wanted to be seen or something and was putting all of that inside my head and trying for it to be part of the world. So I ignored it all and kept on moving. Sure enough, being almost 8PM, I decided to have something small to eat and some hot beverage with eat in a nice pastry shop with terrace, on the main square. As I sat down, a very nice waiter came and took my order and complimented me on my hair.

 I almost laugh but didn’t because he seemed honest. He came back very fast with a cup of hot tea with sugar and lemon and some complimentary cookies. I also asked for a ham and cheese sandwich and just ate and drink as I saw the people move all around. Again, I felt people looking at me and little kids would wave and make faces to me. And by the end of the evening, I got used to it.


 When I went back to my hotel, I was able to sleep nicely and, after showering with hot water; I decided to make my last day in the village count. I would fish and eat something great, and walk to one of the lavender fields and maybe even get into one of those farm tours and milk a cow or something. I just felt people saw me and I wanted to be a part of anything that happened there. I guess I wanted to thank them, somehow.

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2015

Fish market

   When Brody woke up, the light entering his room was practically nonexistent. The only object illuminating his room was the alarm clock he had always had beside the bed. He sat on his bed for a few minutes and just stayed there, fighting the urge to fall asleep. But finally he put his two feet out of bed and walked towards the bathroom. There, he woke up even more due to the light, which was very bright. He had thought of buying another light bulb for the bathroom but he always forgot. He removed his boxers and let the water run in the shower. When it was warm, he entered half asleep, almost leaning too much against one of the shower’s walls. He didn’t really want to go to work. He just wanted to fall asleep for several hours and only wake up when he was fully rested.

 But that wasn’t happening. He got in front of the water, in order to wake up properly and spend the following five minutes trying to wake up the rest of his body. When he got back to his room, towel around his body, there was still no light outside. The world was submerged in the darkness and he was one of those unfortunate souls that had to wander through the lack of light in order to earn a living. Or something like that, anyway. He let the towel fall to the ground and then spent some minutes looking for clothes. The proof that he was still asleep was that he dressed up in the weirdest way: he put on a t-shirt first, and then the socks followed by a jacket. Then he got to his boxers and finally some pants. He almost forgot to put on underwear but he realized it in time.

 When he was finally ready, he came out of his room and into a small room outside where the kitchen was. The apartment was not very big but it was just the size he needed it to be. He could bring friends and have some beers but it wasn’t the best place for a party, even if he had already tried (often), to have some of those in there. He drank orange juice straight from the bottle and then grabbed the milk and poured some into a cup. He had it with cereal, eating standing up and closing his eyes from time to time. He so wanted to sleep. And it wasn’t only because he was tired but because he remembered bits and pieces of a great dream he had been having and he knew it was one of the good ones.

 When he finished eating, he went back to his bathroom and brushed his teeth. As he did, he looked at his face and did funny faces in order to make himself laugh or at least attempting to make his eyes look a little bit more open. But it was to no avail. He finally took a backpack from the floor of his bedroom and then just went out the door. He went down the stairs rather fast and at the bottom he received a powerful gust of wind right in his face. It was very cold and already blue outside, not yet full of light but in an annoying twilight that could last a couple of hours. He closed his jacket and walked on.

 The bus was always on time and that day it wasn’t the exception. People were already making a line to get into it so he almost got to stay because of how filled with people the bus was. He had to take a little space at the back, between the window and an elderly woman that smelled a lot like onions. He was thankful the trip was not that long, or he would have collapsed due to the odor. Maybe she was from a region where they grew a lot of onions because she wasn’t carrying a bag with them or anything. He looked at other people in the bus and there were any like him: head going from side to side, eyes closing for a few seconds, then opening as if nothing had happened. There was a young student already fast asleep. He felt sorry for him, as it was likely he would overshoot his stop.

 Finally, the bus arrived at his destination: the market. The place was very active already, even for the hour. Most people were owners of the stands. With the help of their employees, they were filling their areas with fruits and vegetables and many other delicious things to eat like mushrooms and dried fruit. He had to walk past all of that area to get to the next building, where he had to work. It was the place where the meat and fish were sold. The stand he worked at was in an intersection of paths, which was perfect for business, as every single shopper would see their products, no matter the way they were coming from. The owner complained a lot but he was pretty successful.

 When Brody arrived, he told him he should have arrived sooner as it was the day they got fresh octopus. And when he said fresh, he meant alive. It was Brody’s job to get those creatures into a tank in order to have them in display like lobsters. He actually didn’t like to do that because it reminded him a lot of those movies that show how everything once when there was slavery. Of course an octopus is not a person but he felt back for the poor fellow anyway. He put on his boots, apron and “mouth cover” and started helping his boss putting everything into display. Fortunately, the boss decided to fight the octopus himself, so he didn’t have to experience that sad episode again.

 All fish were in boxes and he just had to put them on the ice over the refrigerator where every single costumer could see how fresh and clean and beautiful everything was. It was a nice thing to do and he was already used to the smell. He sometimes did some changes in the display, forming words with the fish and he always did it without the permission of his boss. For a person that claimed to be in control of everything, he never realized what was going on in his own stand. The truth was he always negotiating and going around asking if other had made more money than him and what new products were being sold.

 The morning rush started just as the only octopus of the day was finally inside his enclosure and all the rest of his marine friends were well displayed in the stand. Just then arrive Marcus, a huge man that spoke once every year, which happened to be the one to cut, chop and gut every single fish that was going to be sold. He never helped organize things and he always left before the boss could ask him to help them clean. That was Brody’s job and also cashier and actual salesman. He convinced people to shop there and he gave them the best deals, trying to make them good for the boss too but sometimes just looking to sell something as he knew his salary depended a lot on how many fish got to leave in some old lady’s bags.

 It started a bit slow but as natural light grew larger in the outside, the more people came in to buy their rations of seafood for the day. In the stand, they did not only sell fish and octopus but also clams, squid, mussels and many other creatures. As more and more people started to come in, Brody had a nicer time. It was fun to explain to people the differences between some types of fish and others and how they could cook them and make a delicious seafood soup. Many were actually surprised he knew so much about cooking. The thing was he had decided to learn all he could about what he was selling and the natural thing was also to learn how to cook what he was selling. At home, he had already tried every recipe he recommended and it was always a success.

 In the afternoon, things began coming to an end. People had already had lunch and very few buyers bought fish for dinner so late. They came for it in the morning. So at four or five in the afternoon, depending of the day, they closed shop, put into boxes everything that had not being sold and began cleaning their stands with hoses as fish guts had to be pushed into a main drain. It was Brody who did all of that because Marcus left and his boss was too busy trying to calculate how much money he had made in one day. The octopus was the last one to be put away. Thankfully for him, no one had wanted to cook him for a meal.

 Thirty minutes after closing, Brody cleaned his boots and apron, put them in the backpack and bid farewell to the boss. He hoped for Friday to come soon as he got his paycheck then. He had worked hard all month and, as he walked towards the bus stop ( again in the twilight), he repeated his plans in his head: he wanted to be a chef and had to get the right amount of money to study to be one of the best cooks in the country. Inside the bus, people moved because he still smelled like fish. He didn’t mind, it was an acquired taste. When he got home he enjoyed a warm shower and got into bed early, without eating. He had to save money and he couldn’t afford dining every day.


 His dream was the most important thing to him and he was willing to sacrifice a bit of himself in order to get access to it. Before falling asleep, however, his only thought was a clam chowder, nice and warm, with all the proper ingredients.