It is hard to get a good shower and shave when Bemba has tarpon on his mind. We had just returned to the Halcon from an afternoon of tarpon fishing, tied up the skiff at the stern and began handing gear off. Having jumped five and landed one, our guide Bemba had a little swagger. But when the cook, Herrado, standing above us on the aft deck of the Halcon pointed down and said, “sabalo, ....muy grande”, Bemba and I looked at each other and then looked down. Herrado was pointing literally through our feet on the slatted swimming deck into the greasy tidal flow roiling under the anchored
mothership. Fifteen feet down on the bottom a long sinuous shape snaked into the boat’s shadow. Six feet, maybe seven.
“Did you see it? Very big, yes?”, Bemba asked.
“Yes, I saw it,” I replied. I quickly considered and rejected the possibilities from a fly fishing point of view. I was already in a contented glow. There had been so many moments and images that afternoon seared in my mind that I didn’t want to disturb them. We would have to take the skiff and anchor upcurrent and lateral to the 80 foot Halcon, change to a fast sinking line, cast under the anchor chain and let the fly sink and swing under the big boat. It smelled like an exercise in frustration, and I didn’t need that at the end of this memorable day. Besides, I wanted my shower and my shave. And my free
At the end of a long fishing day, a freshwater shower with all the usual toiletries on the swimming deck of the Halcon and a change into air-conditioned dry and clean clothes was a ritual I had begun to anticipate almost as much as the fishing itself. Wash off the sweat, both recent and dried, the mixture of sun block and bug repellant and maybe a few smashed mosquito carcasses. Dry, clean clothes. Kick back, smoke a cigar, and chew the cud of the day. Make the transition back to a semi-normal human being. I was definiitely in what the sexologists refer to as “the refractory period”.
After handing up the rods and other fishing equipment, Bemba disappeared and I
went straight for my cabin for a towel, clean clothes, soap and my shaving kit.
Back down on the swimming deck I was stripped down and working the shower handle on a retracting hose, rinsing, soaping, rinsing again, when Bemba reappeared, now carrying a heavy spinning rod with a danging weight and bare hook in one hand and a filet knife and the smallest of the King Mackerel we had caught that morning in the other.
“That was for dinner!”
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