Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, Sept. 17
Just south of Pisco, Peru
Spent the afternoon in the San Andrés wharf with IMARPE's gentle Antonio Cabreras as my guide. Today's market is a crush of human and fish flesh, men hauling in the catch, women cleaning and selling it, their kids either helping out or whining for the candy that opportunistic vendors are slinging.
Friends, this is not Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf, where the seafood available to customers is displayed on ice behind glass. The day's catch is sorted by species and spilled onto the wharf's cement floor. In one area, fishermen bag their mariscos: wriggling crabs, scallops and mussels. Women at nearby tables pound the shells off snails and bag the tiny curls of meat.
In another area, the only pescados I recognize are halibut and bloody bisected rays. Dozens more species sprawl on the cement, some of them pretty alien-looking, whose names I can only scribble in Spanish. Fish with red dots or leopard spots, potato-white or gold-flecked black. Antonio's colleague, Sixto, finds one fish he'd never seen before, a bizarro thing with a head like a seahorse and skin fresh off a New York runway. Weirdest thing about this fish is that it has no scales or teeth. Its only apparent defense is a rubbery triceratops spine.
On another note, it seems I've underestimated most of my travel costs, based on the price ranges in travel guides. The constipated expression on George Washington's face explains it: Five years ago, $1 exchanged to about 3.5 Peruvian soles. Now it's worth less than three.
Today's New York Times online confirms that U.S. stocks are falling deeper into their "slump." As if a little chiro will straighten that economic spine right out.
But I don't expect any sympathy from the fishermen I've met today. A sack of mussels so big it takes a grown man to lift will fetch about 30 soles, or $10.
-Kera Abraham, photo by Robin Parrott
Posted at 2:23 PM