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A Life Well Lived

Claw of Darkness

GUAM | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [170] | Scholarship Entry

Damn you, coconut crab.

Ever since I Googled you and discovered you are the largest (and ugliest) arthropod in the world, all I can think about is finding you (taking a picture for Instagram) and devouring your sweet, sweet flesh.

Well here I am! At the foot of a dense Guamanian jungle via a hundred-dollar ride on a leaky skiff. I’m accompanied by two Chamorro guides—one outrageously tall and stocky and one thin and lanky—and they’re going to lead me to what I’ve been longing for: your life.

“Your shoes are gonna get ruined” says the big one.

Weather in Guam is unpredictable and today is no exception; showers on and off with brief moments of sun.

“It’s easier with zoris.” suggests the skinny one.

“What’s a zori?”

“Slippahs. ”

“No way, I’m not going in with flip-flops.”

You see, we are heading into a thick jungle—Indiana Jones-type jungle. Each armed with a machete, and these guys are telling me to walk in with flip-flops. Nope. Nope. Nope. Since my trainers won’t cut it, I end up borrowing an old, smelly pair of the big guy’s hiking boots, which are several sizes too large.

“You’re gonna get blisters.” they warn me.

“I’ll be fine.”

Twenty minutes in, the blisters on my feet are killing me. Mosquitoes are feasting on my blood and there is no sight of a crab anywhere. Perhaps I’m in over my head.

“Here, try this” the skinny one says as he rubs some mud on his face like a crazy person. “The boars do it to cool off and keep bugs away. ”

Clearly, he is insane. But so am I for venturing into a jungle to look for an elusive monster crab. I cover my face and hands in mud. Guess what? It works! Or I’m crazy!

Brown and crusty, we head deeper into the canopy. Not used to walking in jungles, every sound makes me fear something is hiding in the vegetation ready to eat, digest and/or poison me.

“Sorry. it’s getting too late, have to head back.”

No! I travelled across the Pacific to eat this crab! I will not be denied!

“Snakes come out at night. ”

“OK, lets go back.”

The walk back is disappointingly slow. We follow branches the guides previously snapped to lead us back to the beach. I’m completely devastated until there in a clearing, we spot a super-ugly miracle. Hiding under a shelter of leaves stood a beady-eyed franken-crab. In the movies we’d probably feel sorry for it and let it go. But this isn’t a movie.

My guides tell me that elderly Chamorros claim that when you eat a coconut crab, you’ll have wonderful dreams.

They were right.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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