Monday, October 25, 2010

Crustacean Migration



Along the fence in our backyard is a smattering of tunnels. The entrance holes are about the size of a baseball. I am unfamiliar with native burrowers indigenous to this area. The possibility of what kind of critter might emerge from the dark passageway was unnerving.

Could it be a mongoose? Maybe a meerkat clan had set up camp - there is a show called Meerkat Manor. If you have never tuned in, the show is an Animal Planet documentary. It follows day to day foibles and pitfalls of the Whiskers family. They are one of a dozen families of meerkats in the Kalahani Desert. The fact that Barra de Navidad is not a desert and is about 20,000 miles from Africa, did not persuade me to discount this possibility.

Meerkat Manor does not sugarcoat the animals less than cuddly habits of infidelity, abandonment of young and occasional cannibalism; hence the subject matter bears a remarkable resemblance to another Discovery Planet program called Jon and Kate Plus 8. The problem is that I get all emotionally involved in their drama.

On one episode, the matriarch of the family, Flower, could be seen peeking her adorable little ferret-like face out of the den hole. Then a quick ‘up with the periscope’ look-see and she and her mischievous brood were outside hopping and bouncing about, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. Suddenly, a dark shadow loomed above. “Run Flower, Run!” I shouted at the television screen. “Grab your kits! There is a ginormous hawk circling overhead and you are in its radar. Run for your life Flower. Go back to the burrow!”

If I was the camera person filming this show and they made me boss, I would throw Wild Kingdom protocol to the wind and intervene with Mother Nature. But I guess birds of prey would die of starvation and the meerkat population would run amok. As it was, Flower foiled the hungry hawk, but died from a snake bite in the third series.

So, after a torrential rain, I discovered the mysterious occupants of the subterranean tubes in my Barra abode. There were no cute, furry mammals living in the tunnels. I walked outside and discovered cangrejos. Land crabs. Armies of them fearlessly scurried sideways like drunken sailors down our walkway. Click, click, click.

Our yard looked like a crustacean Woodstock. Their attitudes were positively contrarian. Defiant pink pincers rose like fists, defying me to come closer. They were ready to rumble. Then with a sideways swagger, they indignantly returned to the tunnels.


— Beth Berube


(Beth Berube — our very own Erma Bombeck — writes short, humorous stories about a big city gringa who relocates to a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. You can check out Barra Beth's stories at www.barrabethsblog.com. Her writing has also been featured in El Ojo del Mar.)