Hunting, crabbing and tree hugging

We’ve been quite adventurous recently, and making the most of opportunities that fly our way.


I held a big snake that had been skinned and chopped up and it still moved in my hands. I screamed, dropped it and went to hug a tree for protection. Sandra (in the orange) and her family (who had caught the snake) thought this was pretty funny.


Our friends – Carlos and Tara, Henry, Estiven and Armando – took us crabbing – cangregiando – into the mangroves on little rowing boats. It was funny to see the surfer boys dressed like the Artful Dodger, but long trousers and boots were essential.

We got mucky – lurching in the mangrove roots when we spotted a purple crab, hands grappling down muddy holes, clasping their claws shut, into a big sack. The boys gave us their gloves and went bare handed. That is advanced crabbing. It is not easy, but you get better and Carla and I became fearless towards the end.


We went home and put the crabs in our sink, then wrapped them with palms. The whole town is busy doing this. It is a complicated process – on the claw, round the front, back, round and round. Too complicated for my impatient soul, so I cooked the crabs instead. We gave them to friends, neighbours and Henry and Carlos sold the rest.



Dinah and Sandra had some cousins in town last weekend from Guatemala City – all fancy in their four by four. We showed them how to hold crabs and impressed them no end. In return we were invited on their family adventure to go hunting in the plains of El Naranjo national park. We learnt how to use three types of guns, increasingly bigger.  I hit the target twice with two different guns. A proud moment, to have everyone watching.  It was a morro fruit, blasted onto the floor. We didn’t kill anything, which my ex-vegetarian self was quite happy about. It was a great day out though, ending perfectly with a cold beer, and a surprise present of a catapult, which has to be up there in the ‘best present ever’ category.


Sideways scuttle

Crabs. It is the season. All summer the crabs have been hiding in the sand, eating leaves, getting fat. Then the first rain comes. And they run out in their thousands, ready to breed. Everyone in the village goes out in the rain, big thick gloves on, boots to stop the snakes, to catch them. White sacks full of clackering crabs.

The rain has come.

Marcelo, one of my students, who talks faster than anyone in the village, gave us a little bag of crabs, purple, clawing at the bag to escape while I taught Simon Says.

He came home with us to show us how to kill them, cook them, hissing their final farewell. Salty boiling water. Crabs in quick. Thrash around, stunned, ready. Then Marcelo left us.

Lucky for us, Axel, our new friend, owner of the ‘hardware store’ (lots of bags of nails in boxes) popped in just as Marcelo left and showed us how to eat them, laughing as we scrunched up our faces at the strange innards going into our mouths. We now have the technique sorted.

Which is just as well, because the next night we were given more crabs, then the next night yet more – a big bundle of rare blue crabs which are only for the rich in the city – from a new little friend of ours Dinora who came to eat them with us along with the sign painter in the town.

We bought tortillas, made a tomato salad and sucked and cracked shells while lightning flashed outside and rain tested our palm roof. It was pure magic.

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