Holidays, travel, Wisdom

The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman

Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Today, in honor of Cinco de Mayo yesterday, I want to share my favorite parable about a Mexican fisherman.

 But first, I feel obligated to share a very brief history lesson (Spanish major = I took a bunch of classes on Latin American history in college + I’m married to a Mexican 😊). 

I think this may be becoming more well known now, but did you know that Cinco de Mayo is not actually a highly celebrated holiday in Mexico? It is mostly an American holiday, really. 😉 Many people think that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican Independence Day (equivalent to our 4th of July), but that is actually September 16th and IS highly celebrated in Mexico with parties, fireworks, parades, etc.

Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexico’s army wasn’t doing too hot in the 1800’s and lost a bunch of wars vs. European countries and became bankrupt. France was unwilling to grant a loan extension to Mexico, so they fought and Mexico surprisingly won this battle against the larger, more powerful French army. So, this was a big deal! 

While the battle certainly has great historical significance, and has become a symbol of Mexico’s resilience against foreign domination, it is probably a bigger deal in the state of Puebla than elsewhere in the country. It is not even a federal holiday in Mexico. When I asked Ivan what he normally did to celebrate Cinco de Mayo growing up, he shrugged and said “nothing!” That’s not to say that no one celebrates and I can’t speak for all of Mexico, of course, but it’s just not the celebration that people in the U.S. make it out to be. 

That being said, any day is a good day to eat Mexican food, drink Mexican drinks and celebrate an absolutely beautiful country and culture! 

This parable has always been one of my favorites. I just love how it puts things in perspective. Enjoy!

The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker (Author Unknown)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”
[*Disclaimer: While I LOVE this parable, I do have to say that the one thing that  bugs me is the slight vibe that we should only “catch as many fish as we need for today”. I think it’s awesome that this shows that climbing the corporate ladder is not the only or even the best path, and that we should learn to be happy NOW  with what we have, but I also would hate for anyone to interpret this to mean that we shouldn’t be financially responsible, plan ahead, have emergency funds, and still strive for financial security. That’s all! 🙂 ]
In closing, I leave you with a splattering of photos from some of my past trips to Mexico. Such a stunning country! 

Chelem, Yucatan Peninsula

Mexico City

Valle de Bravo

San Miguel de Allende





Somewhere in rural, central Mexico

Acapulco, Guerrero

Acapulco, Guerrero

Rural Mexico, Estado de Mexico

Xochimilco (Mexico City area)

Central Mexico, Estado de Mexico

Valle de Bravo
Teotihuacan (near Mexico City)
Steps: 10,895
Meditate: Done!
Read: 60 minutes

Daily Gratitude:
I am grateful for the richness that our bi-cultural marriage has brought to our family! I am grateful for the experiences my kids have had in Mexico that I hope have opened their eyes to different ways of life, different traditions and different cultural norms. I am grateful my kids have had exposure to another language and can communicate in it (despite not being perfectly fluent in Spanish). I am grateful for the unique travel opportunities I’ve had in Mexico that many American tourists might not otherwise have, the beautiful things I’ve seen, the wonderful people I have met and the delicious foods I’ve discovered! 

3 thoughts on “The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman”

  1. I love that parable! I first heard it as the "Micronesian parable" but, you know, basically the same thing. While I agree with your disclaimer from a practical point of view, I do like how the parable put things in a different perspective. There's a great song by Kenny Chesney called "The Life" that is basically this parable – look it up sometime if you haven't heard it! Your pics of Mexico are gorgeous – I would love to go back sometime and, you know, hopefully spend a bit less time touring the toilets of the country than I did the first time! Some day when the kids are a little older and this is all over we should definitely plan a trip together.


  2. LOL about the toilet tours….I remember that…felt so bad for you!!! We need to do a re-do someday for sure. It is a beautiful country and I feel like so many parts of it get overlooked.


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