After four days of lying around in the La Ventana sun we are all mobilized again and ready to get moving. Today I awoke with an immediate urge to get the hell out of Baja. I don’t feel that we are behind, but I have seen enough money slip away that I want some miles under my tires to show for it. We won’t be making it all the way down to Los Cabos and thereby completing the Baja Circuit, but I could care less at this point. This trip isn’t about where you stood; it’s about who you met and what you ate as far as I’m concerned.
Speaking of eating, Easter in La Ventana was a great success. We got off to a slow start in the morning and watched the Mexican exodus from the beach as they all hauled off to make Mass. Sarah and Erik talked to our hosts at the kite center/restaurant and they ended up renting two snorkels and a ‘Devil’s Tail’. Throw in a gallon jug buoy and a mesh bag and you are ready to go scalloping. After at least an hour the pair returned with one huge scallop that Erik had caught just before coming in.
Staring at the 12” long by 7” wide mollusk in Erik’s hand I decided it was my turn. Alex and I grabbed the gear and decided to try a different part of the beach for our hunt. Scallops bury all but one inch of themselves deep in the sand and therefore are very difficult to pull out. The inch protruding from is the mouth which feeds off the ocean floor as the currents pass by it. To catch them, you need the Devil’s Tail.
The Devil’s Tail is a ‘T’ shaped tool with a flat metal barb at the long end. Al and I jumped in the water just beyond of where all the campers had been all weekend. We could see a sand bar about 200 yards out so we swam out there expecting to find a catch. After about a half hour of snorkeling around we realized that the sand bar was too deep for us to touch… good thing we’re both great swimmers. We were in about 12’ deep water diving down to the floor looking for these scallops which turned out to be very hard to find. Normally you might fret, but this was 78F degree Baja water flourishing with sea life. It was like a field trip.
Finally, right when we were starting to doubt ourselves, Alex found the first scallop. We both dove down to check it out, and then he put the Devil’s Tail to use. As I said, the mouth of the clam (very narrow) is open as it filters the ocean water all day long. If you touch it, the scallop will clamp down his mouth and suck further into the sand. Solution?
Take a big breath, dive down, shove the flat barb deep into the scallop’s mouth, and turn Devil’s Tail 90 degrees. When the scallop clamps down, the 90 degree turn of the barb allows you to pull him up without the tool slipping right back out between the shells. Stabbing the scallop is only step one. Next you have to flip yourself underwater, plant both your feet on the seafloor, and squat him out of the sand. With a steady pull, the Devil’s Tail will slip a bit and finally catch near the edge of the mouth; then the scallop slowly heaves out of the sand and the circle of life goes on. Alex executed perfectly on his first try and we had a scallop in our buoy bag.
The smiles on our faces after catching our first scallop were priceless. Now we knew what we were looking for and our determination doubled. Five minutes later I found one and took my turn to catch the prey. I as well performed the savagery with precision. From then we spent the next hour and a half free diving for scallops until we had enough for a solid dinner. Once we figured out where they like to dig in (right on the edge of rocky areas) it turned into a complete slaughter. In total, we came back with our bag full of fifteen scallops.
While we were gone the others had bought a bunch of different meats and found a grill down the street that we could use. A kid named Delaney let us use his house for a massive feast and we all ate like kings with good company. The meats included carne asada, chorizo sausage, hot dogs, and of course, a load of scallops. With plenty to go around, I ate myself into a food coma and went to bed a satisfied carnivore.
A very special thanks to Dan, Jessica, Vivian, and Sam for letting us stay in their extra room at the kite shop this weekend. Also to Chaz for taking us under his wing for a day and giving a lot of sound motorcycle advice. La Ventana has a serious Gorge connection so I’m happy to have some solid contacts down here for my eventual return.
And that was Semana Santa here in Baja; not your typical Easter, but not your typical April either.