Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Worldly Fisherman

Winter out on Heuksando means wind, rain, and consequently high waves. However the fishermen out here are pretty confident. I caught a ride with one of them to a nearby island today and had a great little chat. As he was barreling through the waves up to the dock I knew I was in for quite a ride. One of the first things I noticed when I started taking rides with these guys was the speed with which they dock their boats. It is as if they are playing a game with themselves to see how fast and close they can get their boats to the dock before having to throw their engines into reverse so as to avoid smashing themselves to bits against the concrete. The fisherman I was with today was no exception, even with the high waves.
But as I jumped onto the filthy, slippery, seaweed covered boat and crammed my way into the tiny wheel room to avoid the rain and waves, I was surprised when the fisherman asked me my name in English with a very good accent. Only about a hundred people, of whom he was one, live on the island to which we were headed and it is about as far out into the blue as you can get so I wasn't expecting such fluency.
And as it turned out his English ability was quite limited and broken. But as we spoke, primarily in Korean, he told me how 20 years ago he had worked on the big cargo boats and spent some considerable time in Spain and all over the globe. Our conversation wasn't long but I was impressed to find such a worldly fellow so far out.

There goes one more (of a too long list of) shattered stereotypes.