Suitcase and World: Mirissa Fish Market.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mirissa Fish Market.

We woke up before the crack of dawn this morning. It was still dark when we made our way to the front entrance of the hotel at 5:30am. Chami sooned joined us to wait for Chandana to arrive with the van. We were headed for the fish market at Mirissa. 

Flash forward about half hour and we're stepping out of the van. Dozens of men....I think I was the only woman in sight, were milling about the area alongside the boat dock.

I was excited to see what they had for sale here.  The usual mucky ground and of course, I had my sandals on so I had to be a bit mindful of where I put my feet's only muck, nothing that can't be washed off later.  We followed Chandana into the heart of the crowd and began our walk.  My brother and I are a curious twosome so we were checking every basket, bucket and wooden platform to see what they were catching and selling here.  We even saw some of the small fish that the stilt fishermen bring in.  You can tell their catch because most of the fish had damaged  heads caused by the hook simply being yanked off the fish.  Not pretty fish but it's as good tasting as the ones that are caught by net.

There was fish everywhere....being hauled of boats, being weighed, piled on the ground for sale, being fileted. 

It was mainly skipjack tuna though there were a few vendors selling small mackeral and other fish native to the waters around this part of the island. 


There were a few vendors selling shrimp and cuttlefish but they were definitely in the minority. This is a fish market.

The fishing boats were all neatly lined up.  Here, they dock the boats parallel to the dock versus head in.  They're also very colorful!

There were a lot of small mackerel for sale.  If we weren't traveling, I would have asked Chandana to buy us a kilo to cook. would be so tasty cooked up in a chili sauce.

We just happened to be there when a boat pulled in with a fresh catch.  Men started to gather around the boat before the haul was even unloaded.  It wasn't a big haul but there were fish other than skipjack tuna and that seemed to get everyone's attention.  As soon as the fish were laid down on the ground, the auction began.  In a matter of minutes, literally, the fish had all been sold.....not one left.  That was good day for that fisherman and his crew!

Where there's fish sold, there's always someone around who will gut and filet it for you.  There were two men, sitting on low benches, doing just this.  One guy had a huge lot of skipjack tuna to dissect up.  With his sharp knife and obviously years of experience of doing this, he was making cubes of tuna out of whole fish in just a matter of minutes.  Too bad they don't eat sushi here because you can't get much fresher than right off the boat.  A bit of wasabi and soy sauce and I would be in sashimi heaven!


The dock was laid out in an "L" shape and around the longer end were more boats but there was no one selling fish. Instead, men were gathering up and laying out their nets.

There was a tall wall of boulders shielding the harbor from the ocean. The guys went to check it out.  I have no idea what they saw but whatever it was, it held their interest for quite a few minutes.

I just love how they dock the boats here.

My impression is that this a small enough market that everyone knows each other and collectively, they've worked out a way to dock their boats so there is space for everyone.

We soon double backed to where the fish was being sold.  Along the way, I caught sight of another man cleaning fish.  He was an interesting looking character with his leather baseball cap and wonderful white mustache.  He was also wielding one heck of an large blade and as with the other guy, he's obviously done this for many, many years.  For whatever reason though, he didn't have too many customers gathered around him.

We probably spent about an hour at the market.  I love these sorts of places that give you a peek into the daily lives of the people who live here.  Here, life is simple but not easy;  it is a basic existence.  The Mirrisa fish market is a small community and you can tell from the way that the men interact with each other, that they are either friends or acquaintances.  Young, old....age is not a differentiator - everyone here is out to make an honest living.  Their lives are not easy - fishing for a living is a vocation few people dream of living.  But despite whatever hardships they might have, they seem happy here.  Sometimes, I envy them.