The American Tourist and Mexican Fisherman

I love this piece. The author is unknown. But it reminds me of the good work of my friend Alex Baisley from Guelph, Ontario. What is it that we are working so hard for? Are we committed to standard of living or quality of life? This is one of my favourite little stories.

An American tourist 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 tourist 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 tourist then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The tourist 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 siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The tourist scoffed, ” I can help you. 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. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

The tourist replied, “15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The tourist laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.


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About Tad

  • This is great:) I love my lifestyle right now – I walk my girl to school in the morning, work for a few hours, spend the afternoons exploring with my girl, make dinner together, read stories and she falls asleep. I then work for a couple of hours, and head to bed myself. Minimal childcare, lots of time in the world with my daughter. AND I sometimes find myself putting myself on the treadmill! Thanks for the reminder to slooooow down:)

    In joy,
    Lisa Kathleen
    Full Circle Parenting

  • Gawd this is a great story, Tad. I love it so much! Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own hurricane of ‘growth’ we just don’t realize what we’re doing and why.

    And Lisa Kathleen… I love hearing how your lifestyle is. You’re soooo wise! You’re a great role model for others living this way. I can imagine people around you running on their treadmills, wiping the sweat from their brows, seeing you and saying…. wait a minute here… what the *^&% am I doing!


  • I have heard a couple of variations of this story, but always with the same message: live the life you want to live *now*. A good life is not about money, and it never was. A good life is about doing the things that give you joy and allow you to give joy to others. It is a wise person who knows what “enough” is and can put many activities into the definition. The fisherman has enough money, enough leisure, enough equipment — and he is content. May we all have such wisdom.

  • hey mom. agreed :-) i love this story so much.

  • bsaunders

    I love this story, too. I think where I always went wrong with the philosophy, though, is resigning myself to actually being POOR. I don’t need “seven figures” or whatever. At the same time, I think a lot of people end up giving up and taking jobs because they’ve bought into the idea that they have no choice to earn a bit more from within their desired lifestyle. For me – no more of that!