The Womacks’ Conch Experience…

So these past few days have been pretty quiet around the Womack house.  I’ve had this really gnarly sore throat for the past few days.  I have been hoping it’s not strep because there hasn’t been any fever or body aches or anything.  The only thing I can figure is that it’s an allergic reaction.  I already have a mild allergy to iodine when ingested, but it usually doesn’t give me any issues on a day to day basis.  I just can’t eat lobster!  But I think there’s an elevated quantity around here in the water and then in all the fresh seafood we’ve been eating.  I think my system is just on overload!  Good news is that it feels better today than it has in a few days which is good.  I’ve felt more like getting out and around today than most days.  So we spent a good amount of time down at our Taino Beach (which I have to mention is pronounced like TINO…not TAYNO…:)).  I picked up some serious sun which I’m excited about.  I think I still look a little like a tourist with my uneven tan, so anything I pick up is one step closer to blending in! 😉

So the most exciting thing that happened today happened while we were out at the beach.  Jonathan and I have been hoping to snag a conch shell either in the ocean or surf or on our little coral reef thing.  We’ve been unsuccessful.  We’ve been told by the islanders that they catch them only in certain places on the island.  They also say that in order to catch them you have to be really fast and VERY strong because they burrow really deep into the sand underwater and dig in.  You have to have super human strength to dig them up.  I guess we really would look like tourists trying to scrape one off the ocean floor.  Probably wouldn’t be a pretty picture.  But today was our day.  If you have access to our Facebooks, take a look at the little video Jonathan posted today.  It’s a video of our teeny little baby conch that we found in the surf today!

I have had this idea for a long time that a live conch kind of looks like an octopus thing.  I’ve eaten it several times and looks and tastes a lot like octopus from a sushi restaurant (which Jonathan and I love!).  But it looks NOTHING like that.  The first time I saw one was the other day.  There’s a dish that they serve here mostly at these little conch shacks on the beach called conch salad.  It’s sort of like their version of ceviche (which, if you don’t know, is pieces of raw seafood and veggies that have been cooked by the acid of citrus fruits and sometimes vinegar).  Conch salad is the perfect beachside dish because it’s light and refreshing and very beachy!  There was this guy who had like 12 conch shells tied together on this table and he was selling conch salad.  I thought the shells were empty until I saw this weird little goo covered claw shoot out of one of them.  I mean this claw was literally trying to snip the rope that it was tied to.  It was like something from outer space!  The teeny one we grabbed out of the surf today gave me a little closer look at it.  It really does look like an alien.  It is like a crab/slug/snail thing.  Very weird.  It has one claw which is covered in slug-like stuff which it wields pretty easily.  It has two eyes on these stalk things just like something from Monsters Inc.  And it’s body is like a speckedly slug thing.  As far as I can tell they only have the one arm.  So weird!  Needless to say after seeing one up close I WILL NOT be trying to nab one for myself.  Yuck!  But I’ll still eat them.  I mean they can’t be any uglier than shrimp or anything like that.  But I might be a little more choosy when I decide whether or not to look closely at any more edible sea creatures.

Also instead of roaches or beetles, there are these teeny little geckos and and mini iguana things running around.  I’m usually not one for  creepy crawly lizardy things, but these are kinda cute.  The mini iguanas curl up their tails behind them when they run.  So cute!  And when they’re running away from you, they keep their head facing you while the run the opposite direction.  It’s very cartoony.  The teeny geckos have made their way into our apartment a few times.  Matilda has become a pretty good gecko hunter.  She tracks them down and Jonathan grabs them up and shuffles them outside.  They’re cute, but I’m not touching them.  I’ll leave that to the man o’ the house!

Things are settling down a little around here which is good.  We’re learning a lot about island life.  It’s sort of like a behind the scenes look at resort life.  We see the beach both when it’s primped for resort goers and when it’s just empty.  Yesterday we found out that Sundays are kind of the islanders time to go out to the beach with their families.  Think Sunday lunch after church on the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world.  Not too shabby!  Jonathan has orientation this Friday, but several of the students are getting in on Wednesday.  We are arranging a little meet and greet at the fish fry down here on Wednesday night.  We are really anxious to meet everyone!

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