We reached Madridejos in the wee hours, when fishermen unload their fresh catches on the beach. The giant blue crabs and obese squids got the kids full attention for a good 5 minutes, until they discovered The Bucket.
At first I really thought they were toys.
I had never seen let alone touch a sea horse before. The bucket was filled with hundreds of color mixed candies, shining red, bright yellow, lollypop pink. Beautiful? Not really when you know that they are endangered species protected by law. The fishermen know that too well, but “Chinese pay a lot of money for them Ma’am. They make medicine with dried sea horses“.
The fisherman makes just a few hundred pesos whereas the middleman puts a big mark up on the cost of the seahorse and makes a large profit. The seahorses are then sold to markets or factories for preparation into medicines notably to cure impotence!
Ms. Attila, the Dogmatic of the Family, was shocked when I told her that the fishermen she’s been playing with could go to jail if the police knew they had caught sea horses. I explained her why those fishes were protected, and why we must obey the law. And for the first time Ms. Little Chief of Justice turned into a lawyer: But Mum they can’t go to jail. Who will make money for the family? Can’t they sell the fishes at a higher price? Can’t the Dad find another job? Maybe the mother can find a job where she can bring all her children? Why can’t Chinese take other animals?
Endless questions. What matters most? Respecting the law or feeding your family? What is fairness and what is justice? Who should be condemned?
See with your eyes and with your heart before you judge. Nothing is perfectly right nor wrong. Still, it drives me crazy to realize again that money can buy so much, even the precious heritage of a country… But what would you do if you were the sole breadwinner of a family of 10? With a job that can’t even guarantee that you’ll bring money tomorrow if the weather is bad.
Education, education! I so wish all the kids we saw this morning could go to school, the longest the best, to never need to dive in the middle of the night for sea horses – people believe that children are good “reef hunters” because their small body enable them to dive deeper. May they always have what they need and finally have the luxury to plan beyond the day.
(In response to WPC on Heritage)