(The last story, at least for a while, from our ten day visit to the
in January 2011) Yucatan
Maybe because I am Capricorn, water is my second home. My primary reason for traveling to the
Caribbean was the clear sea and the world below its waves. On our first visit twelve years ago we were only able to spend a short time with fins and snorkel exploring the reefs in the shallow warm water.
On this trip there was much more time to investigate the goings on under the sea.
“Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter under the sea.”
We did our best to keep our hands off the coral and other sea plants and animals; both for their safety and ours. But when I saw a large mossy shell on the sandy bottom I couldn’t resist diving down to investigate. It was a full grown Queen Conch (pronounced conk) snail. I thought at first it was a hermit crab living in an abandoned shell since there was a big claw down inside. I hauled it back to our bungalow for further inspection.
Here is the conch on its back in a basin of sea water.
We left it undisturbed with the base down, and before long two little tentacles poked out to survey the new surroundings. The foot came out with the big claw to dig in and pull the shell around.
We did a Google search to discover more about my find. We learned the meat is second only to escargot as a delicacy, but the usual method to extract the snail is to cut the tip off the shell which releases the animal. There was no way I was going to get this guy home alive and I really wanted the shell intact. I finally found a site that gave instructions to remove the snail without harming the shell.
I tried not to think about it too much and immersed the conch in water and heated it almost to boiling.
When the water cooled I used a pair of scissors as large tweezers to pull out the snail.
It was a bizarre creature that lived in that little spiral house.
There were all kinds of recipes for conch chowders, and fritters on the internet, but this would require a lot of shopping and cooking. So I asked Deeno, the little Mayan man who was the caretaker of our building, if he would like the conch meat. He was very happy to take it home. He said his wife had a great recipe for ceviche and could put it to use.
He also brought back some bleach and a bucket so we could soak the shell and remove the moss and algae.
I asked him if there would be a problem taking the shell out of the country. “It’s just a shell, no problem,” he said.
He was right. So my Queen Conch and a few other shells we gathered came back to high, dry
to remind us of our vacation. And, yes, you can hear the ocean when you put it to your ear. Idaho