Saturday, March 5, 2016

Happiness does not have a universal definition.

Eleno and Manuela

We woke up this morning to the sound of an outboard motor and a happy "buenos dias".  We scrambled up top to see if it was a fisherman possibly offering to sell some of his catch.  As we poked our heads out we were greeted by the husband and wife couple that we met yesterday.  When we pulled into Las Cuevas around 2pm there was a panga out on the point fishing and we assumed that the various nets around the small bay were theirs as well.  Emma and I took a little dinghy tour around the bay and we stopped by their panga and chatted with them for a bit.  They told us that they fish for 3-5 days at a time before going back home to Jaltemba for a few days and then return to the sea hoping to get a few fish to sell at the local market.  We learned that they are a husband and wife team named Eleno and Manuela and this is how they make their living to care for their family.
They stayed out on the point fishing with hand lines all day, then when night fell they came over by us and dropped their anchor made of rebar to get a little rest before they pulled their nets sometime in the middle of the night.  Marne had made brownies so we took a couple over to them and they graciously accepted with heartfelt smiles on their faces.  Their panga that serves as their home away from home was pretty humble.  An open top fiberglass panga, maybe 15' long.  On the front they had secured an old camper shell that looked like it served to cover the bed of someone's pickup a long time ago.  I can only imagine that it was thrown out as junk before they found it, picked it up and re-purposed it.  Dirty fish water sloshed around the bottom of the boat that they would empty out every so often with a cut off milk jug.

Last night before we tucked ourselves into bed we looked over to see flickering light coming from their panga.  They had lit a fire in the middle of their boat, most likely to cook a small fish or two for dinner and warm their hands.  I don't know what was under that fire to protect the boat from catching on fire but I was certain that they had it all figured out.  Poor, humble Mexicans are very resourceful people.

When their happy voices echoed outside the boat this morning we found them wrapped in burlap type ponchos with an outer protective layer made of black plastic trash bags.  We offered them a warm cup of coffee and they were quick to humbly accept.  As they pulled their panga close so we could pass them down their cups filled with warm goodness it made us ponder of our own fortunate circumstances.  At first I was sad to see their wet, bare feet in the cool dingy water, work warn hands and a very small milk crate with very few fish in it.  However, they had huge smiles on their faces and I supposed that they were truly happy, although their definition of happiness is differently defined than how most of us would put words to it.

Eleno and Manuela can teach us much.  After they had handed us back our coffee cups and motored off in their panga our hearts were warmed.  It felt good to add in a very small way to the gratitude and happiness in their life.  We too were grateful to have made their acquaintance and they most definitely added to our lives with an appreciation of our own fortuitous circumstances.  Thank you Eleno and Manuela.  May God bless you with a more fish in your nets and good health for you and your children.  We are grateful to have met you.

Folks like Eleno and Manuela make it easy to love this country and it's people!

A swell rolls over the reef near the entrance of Las Cuevas

SV Liahona
Bret, Marne, Stacey and Emma


  1. Great story!
    This lifestyle is all about the people you meet.

  2. Indeed it is. Speaking of which, Marne and I are looking forward to seeing you guys again when we get back up to the Sea of Cortez.