“Touch your finger in this water and you touch the world,” Danica said, stretching her body over the side of the little boat we were in and sticking her fingers into the cool, clear water of the Adriatic.
Katie, David and I did the same, leaning over the sides of the boat and dipping our fingers in the water.
It took me a second to understand the heaviness of the statement Danica made, and then it hit me.
This water has been everywhere. It has flowed through the Adriatic, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Pacific … this water has touched the world, and now, there I was, sitting on a little boat in the sea, looking out at the marvelous country of Croatia, and I was now a part of that water.
A tiny little piece of something so much grander.
Our day had started out relaxing, me and my roommates woke up, had food, wandered to the water, rested and then we had boarded the boat along with Danica to go and fish.
We got on the boat and looked around.
No fishing rods.
Danica had brought down some little plastic boxes and opened them, producing pieces of styrofoam wrapped with fishing line once we had navigated out of Solta’s harbor.
We were fishing by hand.
After handing out our “rods,” Danica opened one of the plastic boxes and took out fresh squid, a cutting board and a knife and began chopping up the creatures.
“The fish love to eat this,” she said, slicing the knife blade through the heads of the squid.
I’ve fished. I’ve hooked worms. I’ve caught fish, released them. But, this was different. This was fishing like I have never experienced.
I’m not a vegetarian. I love some good squid. I love fish. For some reason, to be a part of the action was a different experience from me.
“I’m going to watch,” I announced, feeling a little sick to my stomach, as Katie and David began to unwind their line and put it into the water.
I sat there, watching, as the three of them began to catch fish.
I can’t do it.
When Danica caught her first fish within minutes, I expected her to ply the hook from its mouth and drop it back into the water.
Instead, she dropped it into another plastic box.
Oh my god. She’s keeping the fish.
Then, David caught a fish. And that fish went into the bucket too, but not without a little bloody mess from the hook.
You are on the Adriatic fishing. Why can you not drop a line in and catch fish. This is real life. You love to eat fish and really? Really? NOW you want to get righteous, D?
“Um,” I spoke up. “Can I have a line too?”
I was handed a piece of styrofoam wrapped in wire and began to fish to.
This isn’t so bad. This is life. The circle of life. We catch fish and we eat them. I can do this.
I didn’t catch any fish, but I tried.
Katie had started to get seasick, so we motored over to a cove where David and I had been to earlier in the day and dropped her off, then Danica took out a net.
“We will put this into the water and leave it here, then tomorrow morning, we will go and get it,” Danica said as she began to pull out the large rope apparatus.
For 30 minutes, we went back and forth, laying out the next, dropping large milk cartons into the water to mark where it was, and readjusting the net.
Then, we motored back in to the harbor.
“I will stay here and clean the fish and close the boat,” Danica said. “Then, tomorrow we will have lunch together. I will make lunch for us with whatever we have caught and will catch tomorrow when we go and pull the net.”
She knew how to clean fish? I don’t know how to clean fish. Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone who knows how to clean fish. What an amazing woman.
David and I got off the boat and walked to the store, buying some wine and beer and food, then headed back up to our apartment to see Katie.
I reheated my amazing seafood pasta from dinner the night before at Ooh-La-La, the best restaurant in town, and sat down to dinner with David while Katie ran down to the little town and grabbed dinner.
He and I sat outside, eating and drinking and talking until Katie came back.
We talked about our lives and we talked about our experience here, how amazing it was that Danica had let us into her life, had taken us fishing, and how amazing she was — widowed and stronger than most women we had ever met.
When Katie got back, the three of us spent the evening talking outside about life as travelers.
Finally, the alcohol hit me.
“Guys, I’m wrecked,” I announced, stumbling off of the bench I was sitting on. “I gotta go to bed.”
I crawled into bed, feeling my body still rocking gently from the boat, and closed my eyes.
The next morning, David was up at 7 a.m. to go pull the net.
“D,” he whispered, walking into my sleeping area, “You getting up?”
“Nope,” I mumbled. “Gonna sleep. See you when you get back.”
Then, he was off to go and grab the rest of our lunch with Danica.