Wednesday, October 16, 2013


The conch is a common animal here.  Conch meat is available in the grocery store.  

When we visited Virgin Gorda in December last year I ate a conch burger, a mixture of conch and hamburger.  It tasted somewhat fishy and was more chewy than hamburger. I have seen many conch shells adorning people’s homes and even just strewn around in people’s yards like we would scatter lava rocks in Twin Falls.
When we left Nevis I mentioned to the elders that I had been looking for a place to get some shells.  When we went back a couple of weeks ago Elder Durfee showed us a big pile of shells that they had collected.  They had visited a beach where some conch fishermen said they would bring in some shells the next day, and they did.  Those young elders rode their bikes clear back to the apartment with backpacks and garbage bags filled with huge shells. That must have been quite a sight.  Elder Durfee said we could have some, but he also kept two and gave one to Francisca for cleaning their apartment.  So we decided it would be nice to get some shells for gifts for our family.

Terry Hanley is a local Kittitian, the son-in-law of Sister Allen and Brother Allen, with whom we worked to help them get prepared for the priesthood and to go to the temple. When I mentioned that I wanted some conch shells he said he would get some from his neighbor who is a conch fisherman.  A couple days later he called me to come and get a bag of shells. 
There were more than a dozen of various size and shape.  

I brought them home and began to clean them up.  When they live in the ocean they are covered with sand and moss and even seaweed attaches to their shells.  
When they are harvested the fisherman makes a hole in the back of the shell which allows the extraction of the snail-like critter that lives in the shell.  
The fishermen throw the shells back into the ocean unless someone wants them.  So they are not in the lovely condition that we see them in the tourist stores and in people’s homes.  
Cleaning shells, listening to Shostakovich
I bought a tub and a couple of brushes and spent one whole P-day scrubbing the shells to get rid of the extraneous accretions and allow the natural colors of the shells to come through.
The inside of the shells is really the pretty part.  

The colors are generally pink, but the hue and intensity vary greatly.  Each shells is its own masterpiece.  
Deciding which one to keep is the hard part.  If we send home for gifts it will be difficult to decide who gets which shell.  For that reason, I clean and Gaye decides.  But I am going to keep three or four for myself.  
Now we need to find boxes and packing to prepare them for shipment back home.  We are still looking, and we have less than 4 weeks before we will be moved to St Thomas.

Several days ago we took some time to go snorkeling on a beach right next to the Sea Bridge ferry that hauls people and vehicles between St Kitts peninsula and Nevis.  While I was paddling around observing the sea life beneath me I noticed a 6 foot long shark sort of sitting on the bottom, next to a sunken barge.  I mentioned that in a previous blog. I paddled away while looking over my shoulder, not an easy thing to do. Anyway, in the same area I noticed several conch shells on the bottom, so I actually dove down to pick one up off the sandy, grassy sea floor.  It was not like the ones we got from the fishermen, but it was still pretty.  I left it out there because I couldn’t figure out a way to get the critter out of the shell.  Maybe I will get another one some time.  For now, I have enough shells and I am trying to get them shipped home.  I can’t let it rest.  I want boxes to start packing.  Gaye says to relax.  I want the boxes.  She says I have tunnel vision.  I say I am focused.  Is there a difference?

Just some dried up crabs I found on the beach

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