Tuesday, August 27, 2013
We woke at about 5 am on Tuesday morning, ready for our deep sea fishing expedition. An hour later after getting some coffee in our systems, we helped Jose push the small, motorized boat into the ocean, and with a large storm cloud looming on the horizon, we prayed that it would not start lightning or raining because that would be the end of our fishing trip.
Jose positioned Bryce and I on each side of him in the boat and set us up with fishing poles. One of the great things about our fishing tour with Jose is that it was just the three of us. It was nice to finally enjoy a Costa Rican activity to ourselves. On the other hand, I was worried it might be an awkward three hours by ourselves with only Jose accompanying us, since Jose did not speak English very well. However, Bryce took the opportunity to practice his Spanish and the two of them were able to converse during the entire three-hour trip at sea, which was good for me because I needed them to be distracted from the fact that I was doing deep breathing exercises the entire time to keep from getting sea sick.
Before setting off to sea, Jose offered us water and watermelon, but we declined. After turning down water, he offered beer, to which we definitely declined to drink, trying to convince Jose that 6am was too early for a drink. Jose laughed. He might not have understood our English, but even if he had, I think he would have still laughed and thought we were being ridiculous for turning down beer, regardless of the time.
Jose knew the good areas to try to find fish and took us out very far before showing us how to let out the lines as he continued cruising around. I thought that we would just be watching our fishing lines the entire time as they set in convenient little holders, but this was not the case. We had to hold our fishing poles the entire time, which was very exhausting. While Jose and Bryce conversed I found myself silently praying that we could catch a big fish so we could just go home before I vomited or my arm fell off.
About an hour into the fishing expedition, I got my wish at the end of my fishing line. The reel of the fishing line clicked rapidly, breaking the silence and signaling that a fish was dragging the line in the other direction. Jose instructed me to start reeling in the line quickly and no matter how quickly I was reeling it in, it didn’t seem to be quick enough for Jose’s instructions. I was afraid I was going to lose the fish due to my inadequate fishing skills and at several points it felt like I wasn’t reeling in anything anymore.
But still, Jose encouraged me to keep reeling in the line quickly until after several minutes of unexpectedly difficult work, Jose instructed me to reel in the line slowly and gently. The fish would fight a little and Jose said this was good because the fish would get tired, but my forearms did not think this good.
When I had finally reeled in the fish and Jose knocked him out with a dense wood plank, I thought that was it; I had caught our next two meals and it was time to go home and cook our large tuna.
Jose offered us beer again, perhaps thinking that this momentary celebration would make us forget that it was still morning, and we yet again declined, and much to my dismay, we continued fishing.
Not only did we continue fishing, but literally less than a minute later I had hooked another tuna! As I reeled in the second tuna I pouted and just about nearly broke out in tears as I exclaimed that I could not and did not want to reel in another fish. But neither Bryce or Jose came to my aid, so I was all on my own as they watched and cheered me on. But seriously, this was it for me. I was exhausted and did not want to catch another fish.
We continued fishing and thankfully the next catch, another tuna, was caught by Bryce. Before the fish were even brought to surface, Jose seemed to know exactly what we had caught. Maybe he knew what to expect in the waters during this time of year and area, or maybe he just knew what fish each lure would bring in, which also made me suspicious that Jose was hooking up Bryce’s pole with dud lures and my pole with lures for fish he knew were in the waters; we don’t know, but he was right each time about each fish.
After reluctantly catching another tuna myself, Jose pulled the boat around to an area with a reef and asked if we were still interested in snorkeling. I was looking forward to a reprieve from reeling in fish, but because the sky was completely cloudy and I wasn’t too keen on the dark water below, we opted to keep fishing.
Bryce went on to catch another tuna and I caught another much larger fish from the Jack family of fishes. I exclaimed that this time I was surely done. We must have spent at least ten minutes trying to reel in that feisty beast. There was no way I could reel in another fish without help. Even though Bryce had only caught two fish so far, he still agreed that even one fish alone was a lot of work.
Within two minutes of saying that I was done, my line was snagged again! I cringed. This time, Jose did not exclaim what type of fish it was like he had with the others, but instead just simply said it was a big one. Just what I needed. Surprisingly and thankfully, this fish reeled in very easily and before it was brought out of the water I heard Jose say that it might be a Rooster fish.
After less than a minute of reeling in the fish and with Jose’s help of getting the acrobatic fish into the boat, Jose confirmed with excitement that it was indeed a Rooster fish, easily recognizable by the feathery looking fins on the top of its back. According to Jose, the Rooster fish was not necessarily the best fish for cooking and was more of a sport fish – one that was just fun to catch.
With the storm already upon us, Jose declared that we had caught enough fish and we could head back. Whew!
Bryce and Jose teamed up again to haul the boat back on the rocky shore. By the time we had returned around 9:30 am, the tide was very low and beginning to reveal the rocky terrain underneath. In fact, this made us wonder how Jose ever thought we were going to leave for the fishing trip at noon because he would have had to put his boat out early in the morning or it would have been impossible to carry it across half a mile of rocky terrain.
With the boat on shore it was time to clean and fillet the fish, which Jose willingly volunteered for. After cleaning all the fish and filleting two tuna, Bryce decided to try his hand at the filleting. He successfully filleted two tuna and called it quits, leaving Jose to do the much bigger Jack and Rooster.
During the cleaning and filleting, Jose again insisted that Bryce have a beer in celebration of the catches, but after turning down Jose two or three times, Bryce eventually had to give in.
After all the fish had been filleted, Bryce and I took one of each fish to cook for lunch and dinner, and left the rest for Jose since we would be leaving the next day. We even took a little bit extra to make sure we could feed our two pups Oreo and Cocoa one last time before we left.
That entire last day in Cabuya it rained, which meant we couldn’t do much in the way of activities. However, we didn’t mind relaxing at Casa Astrid the entire day since we had already completed most of the activities we wanted to get done in Costa Rica.
The one last activity we had to check off our list that last rainy day was to take a hike to Cemetery Island, an island located less than a mile south of us off the beach. During low tide this island can be walked to and since we had not been around Casa Astrid much during low tide, we had not had the opportunity to walk to it yet. The walk, we discovered, was not as easy as it looked. The volcanic rock terrain was difficult enough to walk on, but with the rain it made it even more difficult to walk on because it was slippery.
The dogs were eager to follow us on this hike and even ran far ahead of us as if they had done this journey several times before with tourists and knew exactly where we were headed.
The island actually contains gravestones in the center of it and this was the first thing we took a quick stroll through. However, my main quest for visiting the island was not to see the gravestones, but to wander around the outer portions of the island, which contained a volcanic rock reef. Earlier during the fishing expedition, this was where Jose had taken us and asked us if we were interested in snorkeling.
It was difficult to see into the water from the surface since the water was deep and also constantly pounding waves upon us and the rocks, but we did end up spotting a couple of pretty blue fish swimming on their own in shallow areas. We also came upon several small octopuses, which seemed to be missing random tentacles. We couldn’t figure out if they were alive or not, even after poking their squishy bodies and reluctantly picking them up. And lastly, we came upon a cute fat spotted fish that I was able to pick up because he was trapped in a shallow pool of water surrounded by rock.
The dogs had hung out with us at the island the entire time, but after a while, seemed to get bored and barked for us to leave. Either that, they were barking at ghosts. After hanging around the island for over an hour, we hobbled back to Casa Astrid with sore feet from trying to balance on the slippery volcanic rock.
For lunch, Bryce pan fried the Rooster fish with roasted garlic, and did the same later for dinner with the Jack and tuna. The Rooster fish ended up being my favorite of the three fish, even though Jose had said it was just a sport fish and not very good for eating. The dogs were not partial to any of the fish and devoured them all equally quick and hung around Casa Astrid all day waiting for more.