October 03, 2005
Crab Corral or Shark Trap?One of my favorite local food are crabs... the only problem is their somewhat erratic availability, which is closely tied to the visibility (no crabs if it rains too much) and to Abraham's and Pablo's cash flow situation. They simply don't go fishing unless they need money. If they do, however, they bring quite a few crabs at a time. And half of them are too small to eat without feeling badly. So what to do? Not buy the little ones, knowing that they will still be eaten? A much more fun solution was the construcion of a crab corral under the house. The idea was mostly to keep crabs alive when we get them, but also to attempt to feed the little ones to see how fast they grow.
The crab corral worked for a while, quite well, and we even stored some lobster in it. However, one day, we noticed erratic splashy noises that originated under the house. As it turned out, a baby nurse shark and found its way into the corral, but not out. The crabs and lobsters, however, did. Not that much of a loss, given that the crabs are only 50 cent a piece and they now happily populate my reef.
But the little shark had to go. I tried to catch it, unsuccessfully, but eventually Emiliano caught it with a wire sling. After a short photo shoot, we let it go. It was very cute. Later I found out that they taste quite good and are quite abundant.
Currently, the crab corral is in a bocas-typical state of disrepair. It experienced its first major blow, literally, when a boat full of people from the village of Shark Hole hit the house in the dark. The very drunk driver had apparently decided to head straight for our living room light, and hit the house going at full speed. Fortunately, the tide was high, and the boat was stopped; part of the bow broke off as a result. Had the tide been lower, the women and babies sitting in front would have been pushed under the house, into the remains of the crab corral. It could have been very ugly. But as things were, all we had to deal with was a drunk driver insisting that I pay the damage to his boat. So what to do? Send about 30 people on their merry way with a drunk driver, in the dark? What would they hit next? Or, force a group of drunk men to camp at the farm, and then in the end be made responsible for anything they do to themselves, their companions, or us? Instead, we confiscated their booze temporarily, and only returned it after the driver had promised to relinquish control of his boat^H^H^H^Hwreck to the least drunk passenger. Kay did something very smart before, though-- she dumped some of the rum and cut it with water. We sent them off, and a few days later found out that they made it home without further incidents.