THE FISHERMEN OF FOZ DO DOURO IN THE LITERARY STYLE OF LEO TOLSTOY*
Souls Made of Sea: Chronicles of a Fisherman in Foz do Douro
In a quaint cottage at Foz do Douro, where the ocean embraces the land, lives a man whose life goes on to the rhythm of the tides. His name is Pedro, a fisherman of fearless soul who faces the tumultuous waves and relentless winds of the Atlantic like an everyday hero.
The stars still adorn the sky as Pedro readies his vessel, the "Star of the Sea," for the night expedition. With the dawn's breeze caressing his face, he says goodbye to Alzira with a tender kiss, promising to return before the sun is high. Under the vigilant gaze of the stars, Pedro defies the ocean's darkness, accompanied only by the murmur of waters and the distant lighthouse.
In the depths of the waters, the dance of the fishing nets begins. Pedro casts them with the precision of someone who recognizes each one of their knots and threads. With each tug of the net, his heart beats faster - for it is known that the ocean's darkness conceals as many perils as treasures. In the hours before daybreak, he reaps the ocean's prize, while the first rays of sun begin to paint the horizon.
With the break of the day, Pedro returns to the shore, his boat laden with fresh fish, a gift from the sea. Without delay, he heads to the fish auction, where fellow fishermen gather to sell the night's catch. The atmosphere is vibrant, a symphony of voices and auction bids that echo off the concrete walls. Pride swells in Pedro's heart as he watches the fish he wrested from turbulent tides exchanged for shimmering coins. Before long, the fruit of his work will be sold at the market or gracing the tables of the region's finest seafood restaurants.
The first rays of sunlight dance upon the waters now, and Pedro finally returns home. Alzira awaits him, her sleepy eyes not hiding the joy of seeing her husband safe after another night at the sea. The hearts of these fishermen's wives beat tight, as they are often prematurely turned widows by a sometimes merciless sea that suddenly robs them of a part of their souls.
Having listened to the door opening, with a wide smile and youthful energy, young Carlitos rushes into his father's arms, nestling there for the few minutes he has left, before leaving to school. This long hug between them is a silent ode to love and courage - and perhaps a subtle passing of the torch from father to son, the slow awakening of the family tradition's continuity. Just like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, maybe Carlitos will also find his life and sustenance in the sea?
With two sea basses in a platter, Pedro walks to his neighbor’s house, where old Bartolomeu lives. He is a former fisherman who taught him much about the tricks of that ocean. The two men share stories, laughter, and a piece of the sea in the form of fish. Their companionship is an example of the community spirit of the neighborhood.
In the modest kitchen of the small house they call home, Alzira begins to prepare the fish brought by Pedro. Each piece is handled with respect and reverence, a tribute to its journey from the sea to the plate. And later, at lunchtime, when the family gathers again, they'll share not just the food but also the stories of the night and the dreams of the day.
In Pedro's heart, the passion for the sea and dedication to his profession are more than mere duties; they're the blood that runs through his veins and the soul that animates every throw of the net. His name may not be etched in History books, but his life story is a tale of a struggle spanning generations, a quiet testament to the resilience and unity of those who depend on the depths of the sea to live/survive. Every day is a new chapter, filled with challenges, joys, and encounters that shape the fabric of the community and the souls of those who make the sea their home and livelihood.
In Foz do Douro, where stars and tides compose daily poems, the life of a fisherman is a continuous epic of battles and triumphs, where the sea is both friend and enemy. These are tales of courage, love, and overcoming, written on the waves that carry the vessels away and back, forming the foundation of an entire community.
* Resulting from the combination of AI and human skills, this text seeks to recreate the literary style of Leo Tolstoy, the great master of realistic fiction and of the mysteries of human introspections. We took Tolstoy for a stroll along Porto's seaside, and he led us to Pedro, a young fisherman from Foz do Douro, for whom the sea is his life.