My daughter recently asked to learn how to fish. I never like to turn away from an adventure, or from my kids learning a new life skill, so off we popped to Sisal, a fishing village just over an hour from Mérida for a weekend of fishing, swimming, and relaxing on the beach (haha, as if I’d let my family relax).
We opted to learn to fish with Descubre Sisal because, from what I could see, they really care about the environment. They were also very responsive to my requests for information and were more than happy to arrange a private family fishing experience, which, of course, always helps.
At 6:30 am on the dot we were on the beach, as instructed, ready to be picked up. Sisal, by the way, is one of those perfect beaches that get incredible views of both sunset and sunrise. How thrilled we were to be treated to the sun rising over the pier as we arrived. It even stopped the kids in their tracks (although the big one says sunset is better because you can look directly at it without hurting your eyes or getting yelled at by a parent).
Our guides were two fishermen, one of whom is also a qualified tour guide. Essentially, we went out with them as they went to work. I asked what time they start their day and they told me they pick up bait at 6 am and are fishing by 6:30 am, just as we were for our adventure.
In the five hours we were with them, we learned to fish the local way: with a line, hook, and bait; no rods here. I’m not good at fishing, it turns out, I don’t have the patience, nor, I thought, did my older child. Initially, it was kind of funny for the guides (and his parents) to watch him throw in his line, wait two seconds, shout “I’ve got something, I’ve got something,” and then pull out his empty line, on repeat. It wasn’t fun for long, though, if I’m honest. My younger child, more like her father, was happy to sit and feel the slight changes in the line, and hence was better at fishing.
But, and here is what really matters, by the end, my son had discovered that he really enjoyed preparing bait (essentially cutting sardines in half with a very big knife), and then baiting the fish hooks for us all. This led to a real interest in fishing and he finally caught a couple of fish. He was overjoyed at his success and so proud that he had actually provided food for his family. He couldn’t stop talking about how great it felt to catch a fish and then eat it.
This is an important lesson to learn and was a great moment for him. We can talk to our children as much as we like about the provenance of our food, but for them to really understand, we have to show them and let them play a part in the process. For my kids, we have very little space at home, so we spent months helping out at Monique’s Bakery, creating an organic garden to learn about vegetables. We also visited Rancho Haltun Xiki (purveyors of ethical lamb and pork in Yucatán), to understand where meat comes from. Now, we’ve been fishing with local fishermen and seen that process.
Of course, while these experiences don’t show the desperate reality of mass food production, these ethical and small businesses do help us begin the conversation with our children and hopefully create thoughtful, compassionate, and conscious consumers.
Tel. (999) 363 5014
FB: Descubre Sisal
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Yucatán Today for its use in Yucatán Today.
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