27 February 2011 – Winneba Beach (continued)

[Recap: I walked down to the beach in Winneba. I had only planned to stay 30 minute or so but then decided to stay and watch the fishermen pull in the catch and met a family while watching.]

Robert, Gina’s husband, came with another pocket full of shells. While we waited I decided to ask him how was going to make the beads. He said he would grind the shells into a fine powder for the beads he was making this time. Other times he said he would leave some small pieces of shell in the powder. He showed me the shells and said that since many of them had purple in them that the beads would also be that color.

After he ground up the beads he would mix the powder with glue and then shape the beads. They could be round, square, rectangular or even triangular. He would take one straw from a broom and poke a hole in the center of each bead. Then let them dry in the shade. He said drying in the shade assures that they dry all the way through. If he dried them in the sun the outside might dry first and leave the inside still wet. Then the beads are ready for him to us to make jewelery.

When we turned our attention back to the fishermen the net was in. It was about 5 feet in diameter and lay on the sand bubbling with the flopping fish inside.

I figured that now the owner would sell the fish to the fishmongers and the other customers who were waiting.

But this fisherman knew his customers. The customers would wait. He also knew that once his helpers got their shares they would go home and he still needed them. The ropes needed to be coiled and put into the boat, which they did. Then they set to work organizing the net. The older helpers formed a horseshoe and spread their arms out then the owner  began looping the net over them. He put it around their necks and over their arms one way then turned back the other way so that many layers of the net were draped over their outstretched arms like scarves.

When the owner was finished each man took his part of the net off his neck, bent down and lay the net on the sand.

With the net and the rope organized only the boat was left. It had to be pulled up the small incline above the high tide mark.  One helper got a log out of the boat and put it under the front of the boat. Other men tied ropes to either side of the front and back of the boat. One man stayed behind the boat and four men came to the front and began pulling on the ropes. Another two men were near the front of the boat pushing down on it and the one in back was also pushing. The owner again chanted and worked among the men and together, the seven men moved the boat up over the high tide mark.

Then section by section the net was put into the long boat.

It’s hard to explain with just words and this is why I made the note to myself at the beginning of the first part of this story. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Gina asked me if I liked Fufu. When I replied enthusiastically she then invited me for dinner that evening. We made plans for me to call her when I got back to my room so we could plan a time and she could give directions.

Finally the net was opened. It was filled with small fish bout 5 inches long and less than an inch wide. There were also some larger fish which the owner picked out and set aside. I assumed for himself.

I was disgusted to see that there were many clear plastic bags within the pile of fish. The sorters threw these out. One landed near me and a small child began to pick through it. Then the child picked up a piece of the bag and then I could see it was a leg. We asked and talked it over and I finally decided they were jelly fish. BIG jelly fish. They head was seven inches in diameter and the legs were at least 5 inches long. I touched it and yes it felt like jelly. The fishermen told us they were not edible.

After sorting out the larger fish and the jelly fish the owner took a shallow silver bowl approx 18 inches in diameter and filled it half way. He then made a flat space on the sand with his foot and dumped the fish on that space. He repeated this 15 times.

While I did this we moved to the shade so Gina could feed the baby and I could avoid sunburn (ha ha). I didn’t see him distribute the fish but people were walking away with bowls or bags of fish. I guess that some of the younger people who helped haul the net in were family members of the older people thus there were only 16 shares of fish for the 27 people.

I decided it was time to go. I assure Gina I would call when I got back to the hotel to set up our dinner date. She headed off to help her husband purchase the fish. As she walked towards the shore she said “They will cheat him!”.

-vc

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