I too for years have been stirred by the sight of a solitary
cloud drifting with the wind to ceaseless thoughts of roaming.
~ Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to Oku

Manado fish market 1 Color Efex rs

Fishermen, early morning, Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia (Photo credit: C. Bertelsen)

I cannot forget his face. Soaked with sea water and sweat, grimacing with the physical effort of his daily labor, the lines telling of the years spent waking in the early light of dawn, the smoke of the cooking fire perfuming his hair.

He sank into the churning dirty water, leaving his flip-flops on the slippery cement stairs. The long, narrow boats glided closer, weighted down by large plastic buckets filled with silvery slithering fish gasping in the hot tropical air.

Grasping the first bucket by the edge, he hoisted it up like a shepherd slinging a sheep over his shoulder and staggered as he moved toward the stairs.

As he approached the top step, he swung the bucket down as the market vendor reached for it, a crumpled 5000 rupiahs (50 cents in USD) note gripped in his right hand. The man took the money and then thrust a hand into the bucket, pulling out a few slippery fish, which he tossed down next to his flip-flops.

Then he trudged back into water as the next boat slid close to the shore. Again he perched a huge plastic bucket on his shoulder. Again he presented the bucket to the vendor, who paid him. Again he took some fish in partial payment and tossed them next to his shoes.

In the end, I counted 12 fish waiting for the grip of his strong hands, plunging them into a bag, some still writhing.

By the sweat of thy brow …

Indeed, this is a lesson I thought about the whole time I traveled along the roads of North Sulawesi, Indonesia, where food production and food consumption hold hands as it were, like companions on a journey.

Manado fish market shoes rs

The rewards of work (Photo credit: C. Bertelsen)

I recently returned from two weeks traveling in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, with  a couple of brief forays in Singapore. And during the coming weeks, I shall be commenting on many of the 1600 photographs I took while there.

© 2013 C. Bertelsen

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I am a cook who loves to write. And I am a writer who loves to cook.

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