“Fishing is not about enjoying life at sea. It’s about freezing in the winter, sweating in summer. It’s about cleaning plastic boxes, and fixing your boat. It’s about hoping for a good catch and coming home with empty hands. And about fixing your nets. That’s daily, everday’s work.” It’s not the myth of the old guy and the fish he was fighting with. José Luise laughs.
No matter if the nets were full with fish or merely some pieces of wood and trash who found their way into the filigree nets: They need to be fixed; each leash in the net needs to go through the fishermen’s rough hands. “We catch the fish – 800 kilos on one day and 13 on the other – anyway in return they destroy our nets. It’s like a little war everyday. If a filigree war for us, a serious for them.”
Growing up in a fishermen’s village is a peculiar situation it seems. Especially in these times. “I’ve always worked on fishing boats. Everyday. With exception of stormy days when you are feeling lucky you saw the signs early enough.” says José Lois, the captain of a tiny boat in Malpica. “Some boys from my village went to the big cities and studied at university. They believed they could flee from these lives. Now they are coming back, one for one.Those who never found a job in the cities – and we are a lot of fishermen here now. Some by choice, most by destiny. It just takes you back here. I’m on the other hand a captain by choice – I saw the signs while others are forced to work on big boat factories now. I, I have my boat.” It seems as the sea takes them all back, once she gets hold of a man. One way or the other.
“The sea is not a sentimental feeling – it’s an obligation.”, he continues never taking his eyes from the net floating through his quick fingers. “When you need to survive again, you go to the sea. You’re forced to like the sea. Sometimes you get swallowed by it, you never know when or if you’ll come home at all… Other times you arrive in the haven, feeling lucky, rich, happy. It’s the triumph and ease in one… world.”
If he had the choice between a fine office and the sea – he wouldn’t choose to be the fisherman. “Life is about choice. Either you go every day and survive. Or you don’t – and you die. Not dying, but dying a little. It seems I belong here.” José Louis laughs for himself, he grins like a pirate and keeps on preparing his nets.
The next day he leaves again. Hating it. Loving it. Or something in between. “The sea was and will always be a part of my life. I could flee – or just be prepared for it. I’ll go anyway.”