Saturday 28 March 2020

Bertie caught a crab with his bare hands. I don’t know what the hell is going on anymore.

It’s been quite a hive of activity at base camp over the last 24 hours. 

It’s amazing how a community pulls together in times of crisis. We are very fortunate that we have been coming to this town for many years- the locals know and like us, and we have built some great friendships, plus supported quite a few families by utilising their services every year. 

For example we always use the same man for our taxi ride to and from the airport, and we also rent our scooter from him. It turns out that all these years of loyalty were totally repaid when we received this text yesterday: 

8 beers! 8 freezing cold beers were suddenly in our possession. Admittedly, I had to make the risky decision to send Bertie out to get them, as they met at a middle ground between our shack and his house, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. 

We have also been talking a lot with Monaj, who rents our huts to us. He has been so kind, and so wonderfully reassuring, telling us that he will look after us, that we can stay in his hut as long as we need, and that he will ensure we do not go hungry or homeless. 

I can’t quite put into words what a relief it has been to hear that. I try very hard to keep my blog light hearted, but the reality is that there are British people stuck in India right now having the worst time of their whole life. We are so so fortunate, and I never let a day go by without expressing our gratitude or trying to help in some way that I can. 

So that being said, Joe and Bertie offered to help Monaj cast his fishing net out - fishing was not allowed for the past four days, so things have been a little tight. Monaj accepted and the boys set off to do the nets. I stayed at home and cleaned out the entire hut, as I can’t even begin to tell you some of places I have found sand on my body over the last week. 

(Belly buttons are just so weird, aren’t they?)

Monaj and his crew were actually so grateful for the help - Bertie is a super strong swimmer, and one of the tasks is to swim out whilst carrying a giant rock. This is to cast the net right to the bottom of the ocean. Bertie reckons he swam ten metres out, and by all accounts, the rest of the fishermen were super pleased with this. They were gone for about an hour and a half. I know this because I was on hold to Barclays, and if I’m honest, I don’t know who had the rougher experience. 

Anyway, an hour and a half passed, and this is what arrived at my door -

BEAR grylls strikes again!! 

However, as respect is of the utmost importance here, we gave it straight away to Monaj and his family. 

After four hours or so, we were invited to help them get the nets back out the sea. It was just the most amazing thing to witness and I felt so privileged to be part of it. 

Obviously when I say “part of it”, I mean “witness from the shore” because it’s definitely not acceptable for a woman to get down and dirty with the fishing nets and there have been a couple of things I’ve done in the past weeks (ie - carrying one of grocery bags) that have raised a few eyebrows. It is so important to respect the local culture, and I completely believe that, but it is also unacceptable to let Bertie carry the number of biscuit packets I’d just bought from the shop. 

I took some incredible photos of this experience, including learning how to detangle the crabs from the nets and avoid getting pinched. They’re pretty savage crabs, and the fishermen handle them like it’s no big deal, snapping the front legs off as quick as anything. Nothing goes to waste here, and everything is quickly gathered up in a net bag and whisked away for cleaning and prepping. 

Monaj also told Bertie about catching crabs at night, by hand, along the shoreline. He disappeared off for 5 minutes and came home clutching this massive crab. They’re kind of beautiful here, almost see through and full of attitude. Bertie took it upon himself to make this his mission, and after he had finished with the fishermen, then spent the next twenty minutes running like a madman after crabs along the shoreline. 

But, give respect where it’s due, he caught one! With his bare hands! 

When we told Monaj he laughed and said “yes, but only small crab.”

Poor bear. 

However this afternoon Monaj came to visit and bought with him some of yesterday’s crab that was caught in the net the boys helped cast. His wife had made a delicious curry, and we quickly got involved, cracking the shells and sucking the meat out of the claws with our bare hands. 

It was such a treat - a really simple gesture that actually meant so much. Even if I did look a bit feral when eating it, it was absolutely delicious and I’ve never tasted anything so amazing. 

And at that point when I thought life couldn’t get any better, Santa Amid (okay, his name is Amid, but he usually arrives with a treat or two) arrived with an ice lolly. AN ICE LOLLY. Remember on The Island when they discovered sweet potatoes and had a full on sugar high? Imagine that, but us, due to eating a totally neon green ice lolly full of all the good E numbers they’ve now banned in the UK. What joy. 

He also told us he knew of a person who was secretly opening their shop, (Joe laughed out loud and said Bertie and I sat up like meerkats once we heard the word “shop”) and as we desperately put in our requests we were once again smiled upon from the heavens as a delivery of crisps, cashew nut biscuits and water were delivered! The joy was overwhelming! At times like these, it is so wonderful for these small moments of kindness. 

We also managed to get our hands on some black market gin. It genuinely was delivered over the fence, down the side of the alley by our beach hut. So hilarious, and a bit of gin always boosts the morale! 

I will try my hardest to keep updating you. Fingers crossed they don’t extend the lockdown, and I’ll be home moaning again before you know it :) xx