We were driving down from Aguada Fort, a very popular tourist spot in Goa, when VJ noticed what appeared to be a sandy beach, lined with gorgeous palm trees, at a distance. We stopped our car and VJ inquired about the name of the beach. We were told that it was called "Coco Beach". We made up our mind to visit the beach even though neither the hotel staff nor the taxi provider had mentioned it when we had asked about places to visit near Candolim.
The drive to the beach proved to be longer than we had anticipated, and quite thrilling too. We had to drive through the narrow lanes of a Fishermen's village, and on roads barely broad enough for one car. Following videos will give you an idea about what the drive was like:
(In the second video, note in particular how animals react to our car.)
We reached the beach at the perfect time. The Fishermen were just drawing in the fishing net they had laid out earlier and we were able to witness how this community earns its living (or at least a part of the process).
It appeared that more than one family was involved in the process. Young men, old people, women, and even children were tugging at the rope. While pulling in the net sounds like a fairly easy task, the sheer size of the net and the powerful pull of the sea made it a laborious, time-consuming task. Moreover, one has to be very careful not to damage the net.
We had expected the locals to at least be curious when we ventured onto the beach with our huge camera and lenses, but we were promptly put into our place when they hardly displayed any interest in us. In fact, a couple of them actually appeared mildly irritated. But we persisted. The old man in the picture above was one of those who looked irked by our presence. Though by the end of our visit, after we had proved that we could not be shaken off, he also gave us some interesting information...
Colourful boats, such as the one in the picture above, were anchored around the beach. these were used to lay the net. The fishermen waded through the water to reach these boats. At times, the water would be as high as their necks. We wondered how they managed to reach these boats treading on the uneven seabed against the violent waves.
The net came out with various types of fish caught in it. Some of which were useful for the fishermen, such as prawns and crabs, and others which were more of a collateral damage, such as these flat fish.
This young girl and her mother were expertly sorting the catch of the day. The useful ones go into the bucket while the waste is thrown about on the beach, much to the delight of the dogs hovering around.
Even the dogs though were picky eaters. They wouldn't touch these yellow crabs. I don't know what these are called and why didn't the fishermen approve of their presence. Can anyone shed some light here? When we asked the fishermen, they only told us that these crabs can't be sold.
When the fishermen would come across tiny catfish caught in the net, they would dig a little hole in the beach and bury the fish in it. They told us that this was necessary because the catfish had stings. The old fisherman (above) showed us his finger, which had a fresh cut that was still bleeding. The culprit apparently was the harmless looking catfish.
Prawns were the favorite. Some tiger prawns were so powerful that they were jumping out of the net. One particular prawn jumped out of the net and landed right into this basket. It was a morbid yet funny scene.
While the fish were being sorted, the fishermen were already waiting for the a net to be ready so that they could lay it out again. It seems like multiple families were involved in the process. Since their livelihood depends upon this, they would have to repeat the process several times to be able to earn their livings.
One fisherman finally brings a net over. The water behind wasn't as calm as it seems. While the sea seems so formidable to us, these fishermen have to enter it several times every day. Fear gradually gives way and wading through the waves becomes a part of life.
The net is now being taken out into the water. It will be carried to the yellow boat and then laid down across a wide area to maximize the chance of a huge catch.
On almost all beaches we visited in Goa, we used to look at tiny boats visible at the horizon and wonder how such delicate things can survive the sea. And what would the crew be feeling? The thought of being on a little boat surrounded by water on all sides, with no land visible, was enough to fill us with dread. But I guess for these fishermen "C'est la vie!".
The beach was also alive with other inhabitants, such as children who were too young to help in fishing, dogs who were as interested in the catch as the fishermen, and little crabs that would scuttle out and then hurriedly bury themselves back into the sand. This was the closest we got to getting to know the lives of the fishermen of Goa.
These were the palm trees VJ saw from the distance. They looked as beautiful from up close!