Friday, September 14, 2012

Embracing El Salvador

A new blog titled Afflicted With Hope is at   This site is the work of my friends Donald Seiple and Caroline Schaefer.   Their goal is  "to create an oral history project of some of the intriguing life stories people had shared with us in order to 1) preserve them for posterity and 2) raise the awareness within readers who would otherwise know nothing of these people."

Here is an  example from one of the recent profiles:

Juan,  would you describe your day as a fisherman?
Sometimes when the tide is good, I get up at 4 AM and prepare the boat and nets, get the engine ready and watch the waves.  When the time is right, the two of us get into the small boat and go!  Depending on the conditions, we may have to wait before lowering the nets.  That may mean taking a short nap or talking to our friends in another boat while we wait.  We may check for fish with a pole to see if they are in the area.  Then we try with the small net first before lowering the big nets down.  If we are fishing during the morning, we wait for 1 1/2 –2 hours.  If we go out at night, we wait for 4 hours.  We can only lower the nets twice each time we are out.  You must be very quiet once the nets are out to trap the fish.  Sometimes we catch only small fish and shrimp.  Other times we catch large fish.  There are times we catch nothing.  There are always two of us on a boat because it takes one person on each side to manage the nets.  We use different colors of nets: clear, yellow/green, black and white.  The green ones are the most durable, but the clear ones are least visible to the fish.
Have you always been a fisherman and who taught you how to fish – was it your dad? 
No, my dad was a carpenter.  My first job was helping him gather wood.  I learned carpentry from him.  I was interested in fishing but my mother was scared of the waves and forbid me to go out.  I escaped and went out with my friend’s parents who were fishermen.   I saw as a child that there were many days when our family had only one tortilla to eat all day.  The fishermen had it better.  I thought if I learned to fish I could help supplement the family income.  I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

This website is a companion to their two books, Embracing El Salvador and Voices of El Salvador which can be purchased from the website.

No comments: