Posted by: Carol | April 28, 2009

Coconut Crab Brunch

2009 South Pacific

cbparker_d700_20090428_penrhyn-163Our hosts from Tetautua Village have continued to entertain us. This morning we followed our leader OJ by dinghy some four or five miles to the far side of the lagoon, following a curving track to avoid the ever present coral bommies, where the facilities of a bankrupt pearl farm lie abandoned on the western shore. Many of the villagers – men, women and children – had camped out at the pearl farm overnight for a coconut crab hunt, baiting the enormous blue crabs in the night with fresh coconut meat and then snatching them up and tossing them into an empty oil drum. This takes some finesse, as the crabs can easily snap off a finger with their powerful claws.

Some of the men also brought in a gaggle of dead boobies shot with a 22 rifle. The women baked up a fresh island coconut bread, first grating breadfruit and coconut meat into dough, then baking the loaves wrapped in palm fronds in the pearl farm’s oven, while the coconut crabs boiled in a pot over an open fire. The boobies were saved for later – thankfully as I have no desire to try one. The islanders tell us they taste like chicken but we are suspicious they taste more like fish, plus they are so tough they require hours of boiling and baking to tenderize the meat.

cbparker_d700_20090428_penrhyn-113We spent the entire morning hanging out, stuffing ourselves on the delicious crab, rice and coconut bread, while the older kids fished on the pier with a bamboo pole and mothers fussed with their toddlers. One of the women, the pearl farm caretaker, brought out a collection of Penrhyn natural pearls and gave them to us as a gift. The famous Tahitian black pearls are farmed, with a mother of pearl or plastic seed implanted into each oyster around which the pearl grows. Here in the Cook Islands the pearls are completely natural, predominately golden in color, and much smaller. But they are the real thing, not “fake” as the Cook Islanders call the Tahitian pearls.

Because as usual I have my camera in hand, snapping photos constantly, I have been assigned photographic duty. I’ve burned photos of the villagers to a DVD disk to give to OJ, who has a Dell laptop computer. In addition I’ve been handed memory cards from some of the islanders’ digital cameras to copy the contents to disk and create a DVD. The cards are full and out of room for more pictures until the contents can be transfered and it’s safe to erase the cards and start over. I would like to print out several prints for our benefactors, but unfortunately the Epson photo paper we have on board Raven is the wrong kind for our new HP printer. Big mistake and something to rectify as soon as possible, as photo prints are few and far between on Penrhyn and would be treasured.



  1. Carol,
    We have enjoyed the photos immensly!!
    What did Mike think of the sharks!!?

    Your blog and photos brings great peace and enjoyment. Thank You! Peggy

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