I set out for Somalia to experience the simple life, but what I ended up with was the opposite of simple: pirates.
May 1st: It’s my first day in Somalia and I’m just having the time of my life in my tiny little fishing boat. I’ve caught 3 beautiful tuna fish and they will do just a splendid job keeping me full for the day (without leaving too many leftovers). I turn my rinky dink little fishing boat around to start heading in to the shore, when a fleet of over 15 pirate boats surround me and demand my fish. The pirates seem legitimate. They have extremely nice speed boats and gold plated machine guns. There are at least 40 men in the fleet.
“Ah come on guys! It’s just 3 little tuna!” I blurt out. But I can see it in their eyes, they’re pretty hungry for tuna. I give up my fish and go home hungry that night.
Rough first day in Somalia I think. At least I can rest assured knowing that I won’t get robbed by pirates anymore.
I was wrong.
“Awwww man!” I shout to the same fleet of pirates the next day from my tiny little paddle boat. It’s the same exact 40 men as yesterday, except with 10 extra men and several new boats. I only have but 2 tuna to surrender to them. “This isn’t fair you guys! I gotta eat something!”
The pirates take my fish and push me off of my boat. I’m glad this is finally over for good I think as I swim back to my boat and watch the pirates high five as they motor boat away and shoot fireworks into the sky. But it wasn’t.
On day three, I am just thrilled to be out on the open seas catching some fish. I’m just about starving at this point considering that I haven’t had food in 2 days, but luckily I’ve got myself 4 little tuna fish in my haul. Time to eat these fish I think. And then a giant fleet of pirates arrived. Yes. Those pirates.
“I’m gonna die,” I plead. “I’m gonna starve to death. I’m actually just gonna die if you keep stealing my fish. I want you to stop so bad. This can’t be worth it for you. This is a dumb move on your part as pirates. The fuel alone it takes to drive your boats out here must cost more than the small amount of fish you steal from me everyday. It’s just not profitable for you. There’s so many richer people you can rob. There’s an industrial sized fishing boat you can rob that I can see right now. Please. I’m gonna die.”
After my plea, the pirates confer with each other on their boats and seem to come to an agreement. The lead pirate takes a moment to collect himself and then hits my head really hard with his gun so I pass out.
I wake up 24 hours later on the boat and my fish are gone. I stand up, and I’m surrounded by the largest fleet of pirates I’ve ever seen. I’d never seen pirates before I came to Somalia, but I think this was still a huge fleet. Whereas in the previous days the Somalis had used modern day motor boats, it seems as though now they have used their profits to buy antique wooden pirate ships from the middle ages and fly the jolly roger skull and crossbones flag from it as a novelty. While dozens of the men still hold machine guns, most of them seem to be holding antique swords and aiming mid14th century canons and blunderbusses at my dinghy for comedic effect.
“Give us all yer fish, matey, or we’ll make you walk the plank.” The Somalis all begin to cheer as they unveil a plank they’ve purchased.
“I don’t have any fish, ok? Kill me if you have to, but I’m done.”
But before the head pirate can raise his barrel to my head, Somali coast guard ships sail toward us, firing shots at the pirates’ ships. The pirates are scrambling, but their ships quickly sink, and the head pirate is taken down.
“Hoooray!” I shout.
The coast guard ships come near, and I prepare to thank my saviors. The men emerge from the boat, and they are in full pirate clothes.
“Where are the tuna?” they ask the rival pirates, knocking me on the head so that I pass out. But there were no tuna. Those pirates would go home empty handed that night, and I would return back to the U.S. with a fresh perspective on fishing, and a fresher perspective on what it feels like to get my ass absolutely handed to me 4 times in a row.