Shortly after my coffee arrived finishing the last update without bothering to check spelling or punctuation, went golfing. The first hole in one in the history of the Little Corn Island Golf Beach & Country Club (LCIGBCC) was obtained and all involved were in high spirits, the temperature was hot and a delicious Vietnamese style iced coffee from Café Desideri was in order… A hole in one is hitting the home base first drop from the outfield, fyi.
A group assembled and made their way to the café, upon arrival it became incredibly apparent that the café was closed, all hopes for such said caffeine fix in a chilled out environment were destroyed, bummer. Slightly disappointed the group turned around towards home, about halfway there I heard a “Rob, eh ROB!” and looked to the left and saw a gentleman we’ll call “Biggs” sitting on a skiff with random equipment near the pier. “Good day” said I approaching. Upon enquiring what Biggs was up to, he replied they were going to catch creatures from the sea and that I was invited, naturally the invitation was graciously accepted.
Hustled hard home to get what was needed as Biggs had put a strict 5 minute wait period and is let us say is not the type who waits around, in fact he is a boss and we’ll leave it at that. Upon return with my mask, snorkel, glove, spear and gallon of water, we began preparing to leave. Including myself there were four people leaving in this skiff with a 75HP Yamaha motor in the back. One of the other characters was who we’ll call “That Kid” & “That Guy”. So myself, that kid, that guy and Biggs pulled away from the pier in a boat with a notorious name and made our way to the south side.
They drove fast, very fast as though it was their boat and they knew what it was capable of or meant to crash it. We passed a supply ship with lots of wood and 10 gents sitting on it so fast it was like a blink, we arrived at the spot and “that guy” who was probably mid 40’s made an egregious swing of the boat and told “that kid” who is no more than 19 to throw the anchor. Put my gear on and was watching the ocean. The air was warm and the color of the sea was turquoise as we’re near a reef, the color shade deviates dependent on the depth of the water. Biggs said “are you scared of water?” to which I replied “no”. The next words muttered were “well get in then”.
Jumped into the water and we were at quite a place, probably should have put on flippers, more on that later and this train of thought is destroyed as my coffee just arrived, same time it does every day. Oh yes, now I remember. Was swimming around not sure what to make of it when I suddenly saw the other gents, with large knives in their hands, was intrigued. We were placed in a precarious point off the island where the waves crashed against the reef. The game was to dive a few feet down then take a knife and feel your way around the rock, if it felt there was something stuck to it, the fun began. Naturally if you saw a lobster or king crab, you grabbed it.
I saw “that guy” who without a doubt was the breadwinner in this endeavor diving 6-8 feet before putting his entire arm into this hole as though he was noodling for catfish (that is when you catch them with our hands by putting your arms into their holes and pulling them out). That my friend is crazy but nothing compared to doing it deep in the ocean, remember ANYTHING can happen in the ocean and we don’t even know all its residents!
The sight of watching people do this made me think I was on National Geographic, as the waves above you were crashing violently and it was as though we were in a small turquoise box with a white bubby roof of sorts. This continued for some time until I found a crab and “Biggs” grabbed it out exclaiming “I’m going to eat you!” in a strong island accent when he hit the surface.
The search went on for some time, always wear your flippers, I implore you. Why you ask? While trying to get my breath I kicked and hit a rock in a weird way, felt like the sole of my foot had been stabbed and Biggs made a comment that swimming without fins is ridiculous and suggest I go to the boat. Considering I had no time to change and the sun is so strong decided to swim fully clothed, in a pair of oversized Puma basketball shorts purchased in the late 90s. That was a long swim, especially considering I was holding a large crab with a cracked shell hell bent on getting me in its pinchers, mask off and didn’t dare drop said crab.
Upon arrival to the boat I threw myself in and put on the fins, back in action. Not long after there was this hole and Biggs said “eh Rob, put your head in there.” I asked “what’s in there” and he replied in the tone of a school child “I don’t know”. Decided why not, swam down the 8 feet and saw this long brown fish with a head the size of mine and it looked angry so immediately left and Biggs went down, we decided to leave it be. This whole endeavor is NOT recommended unless you’re a very strong swimmer as it is incredibly rough and easy to get washed into the rocks.
Moments later a large grouper the size of my torso came into the fold, someone tried to spear it but to no avail. We managed to acquire a large portion of whelks which are like snails sorta. When I say a large portion, I mean countless. We climbed into the boat for the next destination and they decided it was too dangerous so we went to another. We ended up finding a few more things including two conches but turned out they were poisonous, oh well. Also saw this large fish laying on its side with a smaller fish that appeared to be a sucker cleaning it, the ocean is truly a most fascinating place. I came up for air when upon return, the pair was gone and so was a potential part of my supper.
At one point was just Biggs and myself in the boat and he told me to pull anchor. While pulling he laughed and said you don’t pull, you haul it up, you haul it up!!! Hauling up an anchor from the depths of the sea is NOT my idea of a good time, its hard work. The anchor probably weighs 40lbs excluding the heavy chains they have attached and whatever else it has connected to.
We returned and they invited me for dinner which was accepted without hesitation. They were making a ron don aka run down aka the local coconut milk stew. Typically a ron don has a variety of seafood, this one was just whelks. We cooked it on an open fire with a corrugated steel lid and a crew of sorts gathered near Biggs home. It took forever to cook as you must boil the whelks, remove them from their shell and then throw them in the stew which takes time as well.
Finally we eat and the stew was delicious but I am not a fan of whelks. I eat 17 of the 20 pieces but could not finish the last 3 despite my best efforts to clear plate. They are incredibly rich, just imagine eating lots of snails, really fishy tasting snails, I’d rather a lobster or shrimp, thank you very much. Everyone else seemed to love the whelks and Biggs asked me when leaving that should myself and friends ever gather a collection, to come over and he’ll cook again.
The entire afternoon was curious about a blue marlin actually…
Turns out while we were at sea, someone from Big Corn had brought over a 154 pound, 6 foot blue marlin. They are NEVER caught here and this was so rare the fisherman brought it over to show friends and enjoy the ego stroke of being “that guy who caught the blue marlin”. It was caught with a hand line while fishing for yellow tail in the channel between the islands. Supposedly the gent caught a small fish and while pulling it up this monster devoured it and was hooked. Would have loved to have seen this fish but such is life.
This is something that I love about living on Little Corn Island, it’s small and there is always something going on. It’s also small enough that if you’re gregarious you’ll meet lots of local residents as they also speak English and interesting adventures often follow. Sometimes it’s easy to get annoyed at the lack of power and slow internet but we here at iyashinoshigoto don’t’ live to work, we work to play and thoroughly believe in enjoying the day.
Fishing in the ocean is great for the same reason traveling is, anything can happen at any time and remember, you’ll never know unless you go. Was glad the opportunity to go snorkeling was presented as I’ve never opted to go on the tourist tour. Also in case you’re wondering, spear gun fishing has been banned from the island because it’s dangerous and when experts come they can clear the entire reef of big fish in no time decimating the population and takes jobs from the fishermen who are currently doing it in a sustainable style.