How to Enjoy Life on a Junky Beach
I kept things lighthearted, Luis mostly kept his cool, and the old saying "things will look better in the morning" proved its wisdom. In the morning, we saw that the low tide revealed a stunning display of seal life. We started to understand why Ruben loves this place: he has eyes only for the ocean. You would never, ever go hungry on these beaches. Ruben and Luis waded out with burlaps bags, and in fifteen minutes had stuffed them with fresh scallops. The sea bottom was chock full of these creatures! Scallops are a very pricey dish, anywhere you go, so you can imagine what it felt like to see such "gold" there for the picking. Many of the families who live on San Roman come to pick scallops to sell, which is legal, I was told, if they are picked by hand. I later learned the selling of scallops and octopus is regulated, and I wouldn't harzard a guess as to who did and who didn't have permission to do so.
Besides scallop picking, Luis and Ruben went "hunting" for octopus (takes some know-how; Luis had a bit of success). Another fun one was fishing for cornalitos, which are miniscule fish that lurk near the shore. Two people wade out with a seining net, 20feet long, two feet deep, and walk back to shore slowly, sweeping up the fish as they go. These fish are too tiny to clean; you just roll them in flour, fry them, and eat them like potato chips. One of the memorable images is of Lucas picking those fish out of the net, and popping them into his mouth while they were still squirming. He had asked me if it was o.k., and I said, go right ahead. Let it be said that I did my best to cultivate open-mindedness and curiosity in my kids' eating habits. Not to be outdone, Maite started munching them, too. (Her current favorite phrase is "yo tambien!" (me, too!))
The Atlantic ocean this far south is chilly, but we swam and snorkeled, anyway. Lucas and Maite had a big time doing "children-on-the-beach" things, like building sandcastles and making roads. These beaches had almost as many broken shells on them as they did rocks and sand! There were empty mussels, scallop, snail, and clam shells, everywhere, billions of them. I had never seen the like.