I was in Akumal in June with my sister memaid, Chopperita. We were there to enjoy snorkeling in the beautiful turquoise sea, swimming with the turtles, drinking margaritas, eating ceviche, meeting great people, swimming with the sea creatures, etc. [I know, I know....eating ceviche may seem a bit, um, unmermaidlike, but yum!]
We are very aware that the reef is alive, that turtles were nesting and that we should not remove anything, including shells, from the ecosystem, especially anything in the water. We had also heard that it was illegal to remove shells from Mexico and bring them home to Brooklyn.
So, one night we were just walking along all blissed out on our way back to our room at the ABR after our fair share of margaritas and.....Chopperita found a small conch shell laying on the sidewalk near the steps to our building. I can't remember the building number, 6 or 7 -- the building right next to the dining room. It was our first stay at the ABR so I'm not sure of the building number.
Anyway, she practically tripped over or stepped on this cute little perfect shell. So, she picked it up. We deliberated briefly and decided maybe somebody dropped it. So, Chopperita decided it was harmless to take it back to our room since it was on the sidewalk way far from the sea. Okay, thankfully, in Akumal, nothing is actually very far from the sea, but anyway....She took it. She took the shell.
We slept the whole 14 days we were at the ABR with the air conditioning off and the air and sound from the sea coming through our screen door soothing us. It was really blissful sleeping. But one night it was super windy and the screen door to the balcony kept blowing open. We kept getting up to close it over and over and over again. It got to be pretty slapstick funny. It would not stay closed. The wind was that strong that night. So finally, did we decide to just close it and turn on the air conditioning instead? NO. We decided that if the screen blew open again, what was the worst that could happen? Some creature could end up in our room? An iguana on the bed or a bird on the head? We took that risk. The next time it blew open, we both just rolled over and let it stay open for the rest of the night.
But once during that night, before giving up on keeping the screen door closed, I got up and found something strange hanging on the screen. It was dark and I couldn't immediately figure out what it was. At first I thought it was a huge tropical bug. I hoped not. Because it was big for a bug. Then it dropped off the screen making a loud noise and Chopperita realized what it was! --- It was that little cute conch shell that Chopperita had picked up from the sidewalk earlier that night.
While we were trying to sleep, the shell had made it's way down off the table, across the floor and was climbing up the screen trying to escape to, presumably, find its way back to the beach and/or sea. The shell fell off the screen and then the shell ran across the balcony (we were on the second floor) and then the shell dropped to the ground below. At this point, we realized that shells make good homes for creatures even if they are not the original homeowners and that this shell definitely had a current tenant. It really drove home how everything is part of the ecosystem in ways that we don't always anticipate.
We tried to find the shell below to see if it needed help, but couldn't find it. So we like to thinkhope that the strong-willed creature inside is now back where it wanted to be. And we learned why it's not good to pick up shells even if it seems harmless because it could be some creature's home. It's hard to understand how, after watching so many episodes of Sponge Bob, we did not see that shell coming! But lesson learned.
And that's the end of my Akumal shell story. Except to say that that shell's determination is my inspiration to find my way back to Akumal as soon as possible.