Perusing the twitter stream tonight, I saw mention of coconut crabs and a news story about Amelia Earhart. Seems the latest theory is that the big crabs carried away her bones.
So, I went digging.
Digging, that is, into my blog archives. I was looking for a post I was convinced I'd already written about the coconut crab, the largest land-living arthropod on the planet. But, I can't find any mention of coconut crabs on my blog or in my @mistersugar twitter archives, so here's the story.
During our time as Peace Corps Volunteers in the Republic of Vanuatu, Erin and I encountered one krab kokonas (as it is known in Bislama, the lingua franca of the islands). We had been visiting friends on Maewo, where there were still some of these powerful crabs, and so we paid one of the chiefs to find one for us to take home with us to our smaller island of Paama. The crab - wrapped tightly so that the claw couldn't snap one of our fingers off - was waiting for us at the airport. Back on Paama, my host brother, Noel Timante, carefully stabbed a large knife into the creature, and we quickly dropped it into a pot of boiling water.
Here's a photo, with Erin and her big hand (it's a lovely hand that fits perfectly in mine) and Noel's little daughter Mereva, just after the crab came out of the pot.
We enjoyed the delicious meat with freshly squeezed coconut milk and lime juice, and shared it with Noel and his family.
I sometimes feel bad about that meal. Coconut crabs can live up to 50 or 60 years.
Now I remember: I was going to include the photo above in my Ignite Raleigh talk, I want to hold your hand. And the first essay that I wrote for my website in 2000, From There to Here, is still one of my favorites about handshakes and walking hand-in-hand with Noel.