I am possibly the most conflicted omnivore in the world. Furry, slimy, scaly--it doesn't matter; animals. just. get me. I go through my bouts of vegan- and vegetarian-ism, but it never sticks: I get hungry and someone offers me a gourmet juicy lucy and boosh--I'm eating the thing I love.
My hands went their entire life without directly maiming or killing an animal until I was 26 and a bird flew into my car. Since I seriously can't even kill a spider (and I am terrified of spiders), you can probably imagine the gruesome, slobbering scene that followed--me pulled over to the side of the road, bumbling and weeping. So obviously I have avoided any sort of hunting or fishing activity. When girls' fishing weekend used to be called "girls' fishing weekend" because we actually went fishing, I was secretly giddy when everyone else was bemoaning our fish-less boat excursions. So imagine my dilemma when I arrived on the tiny island of Gaafaru in Maldives to be hosted by a family who offered to take us deep sea fishing. At night. In the crystal clear turquoise waters of the freakin Maldives. I could no sooner refuse that invitation than I could refuse any of the six meals a day that were prepared for us.
I really thought I could avoid having to see or hear a fish die. I would fake a coughing fit if I had to, or I would act busy drinking water or I would sneeze or get a backache or a hand spasm or something that would keep me from having to be any part of any fish massacre.
Our fisherman hosts for the evening had yards and yards of fishing line wrapped around empty bottles of radiator fluid. They baited the hooks with bits of octopus or fish and dropped the weighted lines into the water. Then they just held the line in their hands--no pole necessary. And when I say they held the lines in their hands, what I mean is that they put the line in my hands and made me hold it. I prayed some little fish would come along and get a delicious meal of octopus and swim away safely. Maybe it could get such a big piece that it could share it with its entire little fish village.
Please, please, please don't bite my hook. I will never eat fish again I swear.
And then I was miraculously off the hook (this pun was seriously an accident, but I suppose I have to keep it) as one of the fisherman took over my line to change bait...that is until Kady stepped away from her line and the fisherman holding it got a tug. He forced the line into my hand and the entire boat chanted at me. I squeezed my eyes closed as I pulled the line in hand over fist.
Swim away swim away please little fish.
But there was no escaping what was going to happen.
When the next fish bit, Kady was already too busy reeling in another fish, so once again the line was forced into my hands and the chanting commenced.
In all "we" caught 27 fish.
I really, really loved the boat and the wind and the water, but man the fishing part really bummed me out.
An hour later, the uncles and nephews and cousins were grilling the three biggest fish over another charcoal beach fire. The fish hadn't kept their end of the bargain: they bit. So I did what was expected of me: I sat down first for our meal, ate the fish with my hands and left my dirty dishes on the table for another to tend to.