It is the unexpected chance encounters which make travelling so exciting, whether it’s an incredible meeting with rare wildlife or an authentic cultural experience. Regardless of where it may be, the mangroves in The Gambia, below the volcanoes of Rwanda or in a backwater in Mexico, finding the unexpected is reason enough to keep a valid passport.
Returning to Puerto Vallarta from San Blas, while crossing a road bridge over a small Mexican backwater, I spotted this fisherman, knee deep in slow running water, little more than a stream. He wasn’t using a rod and reel however; he was casting a net.
Excitedly I asked the driver to stop and jumped out to grab a few pictures. Initially intending to take them from the road, once he cast his net it was hard not to resist getting closer. Moments later I was ankle deep in the stream watching him hurl his net just feet from me.
He did not speak much, but smiled and grunted and was obviously happy to allow me to take some photographs, even pausing before casting to ensure I was ready to shoot.
His movements were fluid, often practiced, swivelling at the waist, coiling like a spring before twisting forward and releasing the net in a smooth, almost effortless movement. Once released the net spread wide like the opening wings of a butterfly before crashing into the shallow water.
Each time it was retrieved it contained a few hand sized freshwater perch and more, but smaller whitebait like minnows. They flipped and flapped in panic, gasping for air before being thrown into a bucket, their fate delayed a little longer.
It did not appear a huge catch, but several casts provided a fairly weighty bucket of fish and certainly a substantial meal for even a large family. Some may have been destined for the local fish market or the freezer.
My fisherman friend was keen to show off his success too, holding up one of his prize perch with pride.
It was an entirely unexpected meeting, lasting just a few minutes, a brief glimpse of the culture of this part of Mexico, one way, in which one man provides for his family.
A special moment in time which continues to fuel my wanderlust and will keep me chasing the horizon for as long as able.