News from Toby the fisherman

Russia

On Thursday we went on an excursion by boat to the mainland to a special spring where you can get water that is apparently very healthy for you. We went on this trip with our new American friends, Luke and Maria and their kids, Levi and Gabrielle. The guides and the rest of the group sprinted towards the spring while we were trailing behind.

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The water was like normal water but cold as if it had been in a fridge for ages. The water was from an underground spring I think but it came out through some wooden pipes to fill up from. There were two pipes – one for women and one for men.
We hiked back to the beach for lunch – which was picnic sandwiches that were provided by Nikita’s homestead – they were quite good. It started spitting and became very cold as we got back on the boat and as we were huddling around blankets, the captain invited us in to the cabin where it was very warm.

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I asked Luke to tell me about the story of when he got attacked in Moscow. He told us the story again and we asked him to tell us more stories about stuff like that – there was one story that was very interesting about the time when he was 12 years old and nearly broke his back by falling from a cable wire that was apparently enormous fun but 5m above the ground. When he called for help he couldn’t speak, his heart wasn’t going too well and his lungs were struggling – all he could do was scream very loudly. Everything that the brain controlled was shocked. His younger brother came to help him when he screamed and Luke was much heavier and bigger but somehow his very light brother flung him over his shoulder and took him back to the house. Pretty amazing. He couldn’t walk without help for a few days.
Our second stop was a holy temple that was on the top of a hill. People were walking around the temple (which was like a stupa – you couldn’t go into it) clockwise, first you had to walk around in silence, then praying for what you want to happen and then a third time saying what you are grateful for. There were lots of rock sculptures and pyramids of rocks and just piles of rocks that people had made near the stupa.

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When we got on the boat for the way home they cooked us meat soup, bread and salad – it was delicious – especially I liked the salad and dipping the soft bread into the juices.

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After eating we went back into the cabin and Luke told us about his cat they have at home. They had a mouse in their cupboard that they caught one day and they put the cat and mouse in a box together hoping the cat would eat the mouse. Then there was a scruffling or running sound and a mieow, mieow. He thought that ‘oh no – the cat had made friends with the mouse’, So then he let the cat go and decided to let the mouse go too so he went outside and opened the box and only saw the cat but the mouse wasn’t in there – then he saw two bloody paws which meant the cat had eaten the mouse. Once the cat had tasted blood he knew it was his favourite food so the cat was very busy catching birds and golfies. It would dig a hole and the golfies don’t like holes in their tunnels so they would fill it up while the cat was waiting to pounce and eat it. As a present to Luke and his family the cat would leave the bones but would eat all the guts and meat. So then every morning when they went to the garage the cat would be there waiting with bones of a small animal. He would be smiling as if he was saying ‘Look what I caught – aren’t you proud of me?’
We had lots of stories and they were jolly well good on the slow way back to the beach to go home. We we starving for dinner by then.

On Saturday, mum, Kalika and I went on a fishing trip with one of the local fisherman of Olkhon Island. We were driven to the boat at the long beach near Nikita’s Homestead. We got on the boat and went close to the village harbour to start fishing.

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We used rods that the fisherman had to catch fish. Once he caught a fish, I asked mum how he caught it and she said that when the floaty goes down give your rod a sharp tug and reel it in. It took half an hour to catch our first fish. Our first fish was 28 cm long. A little while later the fisherman caught another fish and it was just a pretty small fish – 22 cm long. He had a ruler on his tackle box. When we caught the first fish he put it in a yabby net and put the net in the water so the fish was still alive – to keep it fresh. Mum caught the third fish and it was 23.5 cm long.

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Kalika and I were really eager to catch a fish so when the fisherman or mum caught a fish they gave the rod to us so we could reel in the fish. When we caught our first fish the fisherman did a tradition on us – he got the fish while it was still alive and slapped it over our face three times, it felt really weird. We started catching more fish – all together six fish – then we started going back to go to the toilet, then back to the harbour and started catching more fish.

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It was a while before we caught another fish. My casting got better and better every time I practiced. We caught three more fish and one of them I caught all by myself. Mum said ‘look is that a seal’s head over there?’ I had a quick look and then went back to the fishing. I was practising what I should do when I catch a fish, but while I was practising the floaty went down which meant the fish was nibbling so i quickly yanked it and got the fish on the line. Then I said ‘I got one I got one’ but the others ignored me cause they were still looking at the seal. I got the fish out of the water and onto the boat – it was hanging in the air above mum’s head, then I shouted ‘I got one’ again. Mum spun around and said ‘Oh my gosh Toby – did you get that by yourself?’ It was hanging right near her face.’ That fish was 24 cm. We caught 6 fish that time and threw 3 back in cause they were too small.
We went back to a small rocky beach to cook the fish. First, Kalika and I got all our fish and measured them again and wrote the lengths down. Then we saw how many fish the other group we were working with had caught. They had three more fish than us and the biggest was 31 cm long. The fishermen then tried to have a bit of fun – he opened one of the big fish’s gills and stuck my finger in and out of the fish’s mouth. He put two on each hand.

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The we started to gut the fish – this is the first time I learnt to do this. I gutted two fish – I had blood all over my hands. Mum said ‘why don’t you go and wash your hands in the water’ but I didn’t want to because my hands felt good. I thought the intestines looked weird but felt good.

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We played around a bit then had fish soup and BBQ fish on coals with salad. It was delicious and I loved it. It was a great day – I was so grateful to do it.

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By Tobes

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