I’ve seen the ama dive several times today, and yesterday. I wake up, bring my toast to the telescope, and she’s out there, emerging dripping onto the boat, emptying another generous catch out of her net, sharpening her knife on a little stone. I read, take a hike, come back at lunch, she’s jumping off the boat again, her toes curling over the edge as she heads downward. In the afternoon, after I shower, drying my hair, all nice and warm in my bathrobe, the boat’s farther away, I can barely make it out as she dives off the far side. All the time the man sits on his little bench, bored, smoking a cigarette, even reading from a magazine apparently. After she empties each net he sorts out the catch, puts them in little open crates, and writes something down in a book. Before sunset is her last dive, right near the shore. She’s clearly tired, dragging her naked, dripping body up over the side of the boat, her huge breasts crushed underneath, squashed out to the sides. Once on the bench she sits back on her elbows, catching her breath. Since she’s so close I can see her nipples, as out of proportion as her breasts, stiff with the cold. Her deep breaths are probably part of the special ama “technique”. Her body is toned as if she spends all day in a gym (which in a way I suppose she does). The deep breathing brings out the hard concavity of her tummy. I would love to have toned muscles like that. But at what a price!
The boat goes to a different place each day, consistent with what I’ve read. It’s not always the same man. On one occasion it was two men. I noticed that nobody ever talks. It’s an unspoken ritual, done so many times I suppose that speaking is not necessary. But there isn’t even any small talk. No jokes or smiles. The impression I get is that for some reason the men don’t like her. And the feeling is mutual. I could just be guessing, of course. But now that they’re so close my feeling is a little more definite.
I can see that she isn’t black or mixed race. She appears full-blooded Japanese. Her dark skin is an all-over tan, due to constant exposure to the outdoors and the sun. It also seems like nudity is her natural state. She isn’t shy about it at all. As she lays back she relaxes her legs so that they’re spread, right in the man’s face. Neither seems to take any notice, even though she’s totally exposed. She stretches and I see that she doesn’t shave her armpit hair. Which would seem crude to civilized women like me, but not to her evidently.
After the man totals up everything she (not he) rows the boat to shore. They overturn the boat and perch it where it was. The man packs everything up in the car and drives away. There is no car for her. Instead, she squats, pees, and turns and goes into the shed. I suddenly realize that this is not just a fishing shed. This is where she lives.
I have the feeling she’s the only ama here. I don’t know her name but I will capitalize from now on: she’s “the Ama”.