While aesthetically pleasing Tulum was a quiet town bereft of stimulation during the day. After a lack of culture and recreation beyond drinking in Cancun it was decided that a fishing trip would suffice as an acceptable activity before heading back to the bottle. It was a perfect idea; several hours on the sea, reel in a few barracudas and feed the entire hostel that night.
An hour in I felt green. The sea was blue, the sky was grey and I could only focus on keeping my breakfast down. The conditions had been far from ideal since the fishing boat made its way over the waves to the reef where the fish were meant to be. The wind was blowing hard, forcing the boat to ebb and flow with little consistency as the driver motored up and down the coast hoping to catch the attention of the barracudas below the water. I had always liked the idea of boats. I wanted to spend time out on the Caribbean water and feel the excitement and wonder that all the pirates, merchants, sailors and navies had felt for centuries before me. Instead I just felt sick.
The night before I’d had five Pina Coladas while watching an uninspiring game of soccer between Mexico and Iceland. Five wasn’t many, but I was blaming them for my current troubles even though deep down I knew they had nothing to do with it, I was just seasick.
A communication breakdown had meant our monolingual guide only brought one fishing rod for the six participants on board. I went first but soon remembered how much I hated fishing so passed the rod on, and then decided the only thing more boring than fishing was watching someone else fish. I lay down and closed my eyes, managing to briefly forget where I was, but now my knee started to burn. After becoming badly sunburnt in Cancun I had peeled a layer of skin off my left knee which was now exposed to the sun that was poking through the clouds. Feeling too sick to move I left it at the sun’s mercy. Eventually the boat’s rocking got the better of my stomach and throwing my face over the edge I spewed into the clear waters to the applause of those on board. My left knee ended up with third degree burns.
For several more hours we trawled the waters, passing the fishing rod around but unable to attract anything. The coastline was in stark contrast to that of Cancun, instead of a row of shiny, high-rise hotels overlooking the water the scenery had remained untouched with beaches giving way to verdant cliffs and Mayan ruins still sitting on top. Even the beach side resorts were covered from view underneath the palm trees and thatched roofing. I hardly saw any of it as I tried to keep my eyes shut and my body perfectly still to prevent any further projectiles.
With the guide beginning to give the wind-up signal someone felt a tug and after a minutes reeling, frantically pulled in a two-foot barramundi. It was a pitiful day’s haul but at least it avoided the embarrassment of going back empty handed. All on board agreed it had to be the stupidest fish in the entire Caribbean Sea to have been caught by us, and it deserved to die anyway.
The charter had cost roughly $US250 for the day, about $42 per person. Basically I had paid $42 to spew off the side of a boat and have a lie down. Once gutted and fried the fish was almost enough to feed two people. There would be no more fishing trips.