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Taming a giant


He had been asleep for more than 30 years in a long slumber, only interrupted by the sound of the wind and the waves that invaded his bowels as the tides surged in. Slowly, he succumbed to the rust that took hold of him until it broke the hardness of the iron that kept him standing proudly on this beach. He was once a giant of the seas, fearlessly braving storms around the globe. Now, what's left of that giant lies at the bottom of this bay, corroded by rust and cut to pieces by the power of torch fires.

Today, fragile and fearless beings have dared to wake him up and stubbornly take a piece of him to the surface They want to tame him! They've dived over and over again and tied ropes and straps to pull him up. All that he can do is stick the pointy pieces of beams and stringers that still hold firm into the sand, like claws, and hope their weight and size will overcome them with fatigue until night comes.

Up here, the struggle started early, long before 6am. They're fishermen, but the nets they started casting at dawn from the beach came up empty and on land they have mouths to feed. All they have left to do is sail to the wrecks to try their luck with another type of prey, the iron that is sunk in this bay. The chata (the name given to this boat because it has a flat bottom, suitable for fishing in shallows) is heavy and doesn't have an engine, so they have to row by force of arms until they reach the cove protected by the waves.

After countless dives groping the bottom of the bay in the dark waters, they stumble across a huge iron plate. Even if they pay a measly 100 USD per tonne, that's all they have left to feed their families for two or three days. Today, they decided to tame a giant.​ The giant is at a depth that doesn't allow them to dive to lift it off the bottom with the strength of their arms and move it towards the beach as they would normally do. They have to grab it and drag it from the boat to shallower waters.

It's a fight without weapons, only strength and endeavour are allowed in this unrelenting battle between giant and man. In a single voice, they launch guttural calls of encouragement, for everyone to apply force at the same time and pull on the strap they have tied to the giant. 


Time passes and it seems that the fragile boat never leaves the same place. The only thing that's different is the men's weariness, growing ever greater and more intense, as if signalling that they're about to give up. Several hours later they finally get the giant to shallower waters where they can all dive in. Before that, they have to take the boat to the beach and pull it up on the sand, they have no anchor to drop and the tide has already started to rise. The flat boat, made of solid wood, is extremely heavy, forcing the men to make an extra effort to push it onto the dry sand.

Now another phase of the struggle begins. They have to hold their breath for a long time to be able to dive to the bottom, choose where they can put their hands, and all lift the heavy plate at the same time to push it towards the beach. When they reach the surface, panting, the older and more experienced one briefs the group on the next dives. Here only he can command, as if he were a general marshalling his soldiers on the battlefield.

Arriving at the beach after numerous dives isn't enough. They have to take it to the dry sand so that it can be loaded onto the bike and transported to the bay where it will be weighed. The tide is rising dangerously and in a few hours the waves will invade the narrow tongue of sand through which the bike will have to pass.​ In a last-ditch effort, exhausted from a fight that lasted more than nine hours, the men finally tamed the giant who now lay defenceless in the dry sand.


The marks of the struggle on the men are visible. In addition to the fatigue and torn clothes, almost all of them bear blows to their bodies, wounds that will take months to heal and that will be added to the many others they already have. They all tell stories like this one. Others, less fortunate, are no longer able to tell stories of this beach, where courage, perseverance and exhaustion are lived out here every day, taming giants. Last month, three men died in this bay, drowned in the bilges of sunken ships they couldn't get out of. Another was seriously injured with a cut that almost severed his foot. The murky waters and the waves and currents are powerful allies of the giants who rest here, but that doesn't stop these brave men from returning to this beach every day to fight their unheard-of battles to tame them.


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