Buying Fish, Kalk Bay

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Yesterday, I stood with my friend on the pier in Kalk Bay, a fishing town near Cape Town, taking in the boats, the people, the seals doing tricks right there in the water, and the gulls soaring in the great blue overhead.

Another perfect, warm and sunny day.

We were there to buy fresh fish that had been caught that morning.

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A woman with creased features the shade of dark honey stood beside a red, square plastic sheet laid out on the pier in the shade. A selection of snook, yellowtail and other fish were displayed on it.

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My friend said something to the lady in Afrikaans and they briefly discussed the sale, the lady smiling to show her nearly toothless gums as they slipped in and out of English, just enough that I knew what was going on.

I couldn’t help looking around, taking pictures of the boats, the people, and the sea.

A moment in time, a picture in my book of memories.

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Just as we were finishing up and taking the fish to be gutted at the other end of the pier, a group of grubby, ruckus but good natured men came along.

One of them called out to the woman as they approached, “How much?”

She pointed to each fish in turn, reciting their prices, “120 rand, 130, 140.”

The man and his friends nearly stopped. “Shah! I’m not Larry Oppenheimer!” he retorted, a look of mock offence crossing his face before they continued on their way.

The lady winked at us and replied loudly enough for the men to hear, “You can eat the fish…but you can’t eat the money!”

Indeed.

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