Catching the pura vida.

Whoda thunk? I thought I was blissfully happy; I walked every morning with a dear friend, I pittled around the house with projects, I went to the beach everyday, voluntarily picked up trash on the road, or painted speed signs, and even offered to round up stray dogs for spay and neuter clinics. This seemed the life I had dreamed of, then one day as I’m floating in my “aqua hammock” my husband suggests we buy a fishing boat and business, “It’s a really good deal, and there is even a local man who will probably captain for us”, he says… The words that changed my life.

Now I’m up at 5 to prep food, on the beach at 6 something hauling gear, negotiating a harrowing reef channel by 7 nearly every day. Cutting bait, hooking sardines for trawling, clearing lines and playing host… “That wave is called Salsa Brava, we will aim straight for it, then turn a sharp right. See the reef?!” My hands are calloused–thankfully–especially the right index finger where I run my handline, and I feel like my feet will soon grow octopus-like suction due to clinging onto a wet surface 10-12 hours a day. I’m tan–too tan– and yes there is such a thing, and I still feel the water even when I lay down at night.

My Spanish was almost passable, until I started spending days with Pino and his “broken English” or Patua-like language of the local community. I’m learning to read anew, it’s currents and birds and colors of the water, not Spanish language newspapers or passed along fiction or endless Facebook group posts. I’m learning longheld traditions and a raw appreciation for the remarkable people that settled this incredible area, the Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

We, my husband Nick, me, and Captain Pino, have been working together for just 4 months. Pino has been fishing and diving this stretch of sea for his entire life. At 19 he was selected to participate in an exchange program for Central/North American fisherman; he was the youngest of all chosen and already his reputation was established. As El Capitan, our guests benefit from his experience, expertise, and fish magnetism, but almost as important (?!) his easy humor, outgoing personality, and Caribbean charisma.

Nick is a scientist in all senses of the word, he loves to analyze and figure things out.  Armed with his on-board tools of GPS, depth finder, and 21st century fishing technology, he has embraced the fishing and boating.  From offshore the geology lessons he provides give a whole new perspective to what we see.  And while he says he’s not much of a talker, both Pino and I have met our conversational match!

So, we spend our days sharing our boat and our love of this magical place with people from around the world.  A guest last week asked me “How many hours does our contract cover?”  I looked at the Captain and as his easy grin went to full big ear to ear smile, I said, “Until we’ve made you happy or thrown you overboard trying!”  Luckily, he was a decent swimmer… kidding!!!   He, and his whole group, had a good time.  In fact, they invited us to the wedding they were here to celebrate and took home handcarved handlines as  souvenirs for the one that got away.

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