Monday, August 11, 2008

Coconut Crab - Manihiki

Today, after attending the Catholic service with Cathy and kids, we were to go on a picnic with John-Mary, Cathy and kids. But John scraped his leg and shouldn't get it wet. So we had lunch first. And a very fine lunch it was, black pudding, pork, raw fish, bar-b-que fish, cabbage and cucumber salad and two cakes Trinda made, chocolate and a vanilla wacky cake. It was all delicious. Trinda even liked the raw fish and the black pudding. The raw fish was the boneless fillets we cut up yesterday with
onions, bell peppers, lime juice and coconut milk. The black pudding was various pork organs, heart liver kidneys and some secret ingredients for Trinda's sake. It may be an English dish, but over rice it was really tasty.

Then John decided his leg was OK, so we went on to the motu after lunch. He just tried not to get it wet. We went hunting for coconut crab. Trinda finally decided to go along and for the first time got to crash around through the jungle of an uninhabited motu. The coconut trees, ferns, pandanees trees and other scrub brush make it much like a jungle. Spiders and their webs every where and you have to watch carefully to not step on a sand crab, the little ones we thought were coconut crabs back on

John showed us how to spot their activity and track them to their hole. Once you find the fresh hole, you poke a stick in and see if he grabs it, indicating he's home. They are nocturnal, so they stay in holes during the day. We found 3 large ones. Once you find one, you corner hin in the hole then grab his legs above the pincers so he can't grab you. Ha! I'm a real chicken when it comes to pain. And sticking you arm down a black hole with a pissed off crab in it just sounds like pain! John would
stick the stick in and let the crab pinch the stick. He'd then look at the stick and check the angle of the mark the crabs pincer made. He could determine the position of the crab and figure the safe angle to put in his hand to catch him. I just couldn't do it. The jungle is full of sticks. Just wack off a palm frond, clean a few leaves off and you have a nice fresh stick. When you have a live crab and need to carry it back, there are the palm fronds again. Make a little cut in the top edge toward
the end, then peal it back to the base. You have a nice string up to 8 feet long. Tie it around all the crabs legs so he can't wiggle and leave one long enough to carry it like a basket. If you get thirsty, just wack the end off a green coconut and have a drink. Oh, a bush knife or machete is required!

Then Trinda and I went for a swim with the kids and we came back. I had a bottle of wine and some of the 3 year-old Gouda cheese cause I thought it might be good if we steamed the crab there like a cookout. It was good back at the table too. Here we are on a little island in the middle of the pacific. We had a nice wine, aged cheese, fresh coconut crab and rice by candle light. "Even had kittens for waitresses", says John. (He has a fe pet cats.) It was a perfect day.

Also had a shower when we got back to their house. REAL ACTUAL HOT water shower! Felt great. Haven't had hot water in the shower for months!

They want us to come give a talk to the school kids tomorrow, so we'll likely leave for Suwarrow Tuesday morning.

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