Is This The Hardest Job In The World?

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Fishermen in Kerala, India.

FIsherman pull in their nets on the beach across from the Estuary Island Resort in Poovar, India.

Fishermen in Kerala

After arriving in Trivandrum the other morning, I was taken to a beautiful resort named Estuary Island outside of the city in an area named Poovar.  This resort is surrounded by an estuary where the Neyyar River meets the Arabian Sea. Accessible only by boat, the resort is both isolated and beautiful.

On my second morning, just after sunrise, I took a boat across the estuary to a beach which I expected to be somewhat abandoned given the early hour. To my surprise, the local fisherman were hard at work in the already sweltering heat.

Fishermen in Kerala, India.

The fisherman use these shelters to keep the fish from spoiling in the sun and for shade when the sun becomes too much.

At nighttime, these fisherman take their boats and stretch long nets out into the water in a semi-circle formation.  Early the next morning they line up in an almost tug of war style formation to slowly drag the heavy net in.  Two lines of eight men tug each side of the net until it is completely ashore along with their day’s catch.

I was taken aback at the sheer physical strength and stamina needed to perform their job. More impressive though was their amazing spirit.  The fishermen work in a very systematic fashion as they bring the net in. Every few minutes the man in the back of the line shifts to the front with everyone else falling back one position.  This all happens as the group’s leader shouts out chants which the men respond to in unison. While the sound is not quite musical, it is most definitely enchanting.

Fishermen in Kerala, India.

A fisherman at the front of the line pulls the net from the ocean.

Traveling is about finding observations and experiences that make for long lasting memories. Experiences that are more than the cheap recreation of local culture that so many tourists see. I am truly grateful to have seen these fishermen in an unaltered and real environment.  Their life is no doubt difficult, but their spirit is both amazing and inspiring.  I have seen such a spirit in the eyes of so many people who suffer through difficult lives, yet somehow find a happiness that eludes so many who live in a more modern way.

Maybe these fisherman have the most difficult job in the world and maybe they do not. The judgement is so arbitrary that the answer is not of any importance. While I would not want to do the job myself, I do have an awareness that there is not a thing wrong with their lives or their existence.

We are not hear to judge or compare ourselves or our lives with those of others, but simply to observe, grow and learn. Although my time on the beach with the fishermen was short, they did inspire me.  Looking back I am a little disappointed that I did not take them up on their offer to work along side them. Live and learn.


About the Author

Shawn Coomer

Shawn Coomer has spent nearly a decade traveling around the world with his wife and son. Today he uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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