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Arubian Prized Shell

Tonight, my husband Alan was eyeing the mantel when he turned to me and said, “You have got to write a story on how you obtained that shell.”  He was referring to the prized shell I have nicely displayed on our mantel.


September 8th marked our 25th wedding anniversary which we celebrated in Aruba. On the day of our anniversary, our tropical island beach paradise was slowly being washed away. The lustrous wide and white sandy beach grew smaller and smaller. It began that morning when I noticed our perfectly calm Caribbean held whitecaps.  This was unheard of as never a trifle of wave ever came upon the shore unless a boat cruised by.


As time went on, we learned Hurricane Ivan was headed our way and we listened to continuous warning messages left on our phone.  A meeting of information was held for the entire resort complex.  Sandbags were pressed against the reception area windows and store panes outside the busy first floor. Later, many windows were boarded for added protection as gales increased. Maids came into our villa to bring in our terrace furniture and they drew our drapes and told us to keep them drawn!


The day began to grow darker and billows strengthened. We simply stood dumbfounded by the dubious Caribbean surf as curious spectators.  I noted people walking by with huge shells.  Never did we ever spy one shell on this wave-less white beach.  I wanted some and I was determined to get some no matter the looming storm.  We saw the need to return to our bungalow as the rain began to pour down and the waves grew even madder.  I donned my rain-suit and hurried to the wild surf. Alan chose to stay in our dry room, as he was no shell hunter!


I hurried fast, as I wanted to reach the sea before it became too untamed.  I located an area holding a huge stash of large shells. Whenever the sea backed up, I tried to rush to the far bottom but the roaring sea always tried to grab me, forcing me to back away.  I kept at this for a while but became sullen as I didn’t think I could even get one. I coveted those lovely, exquisite huge shells made by our precious LORD God and I didn’t desire to have to pay a hefty price for them at some store. I was ready to give up when an Arubian man, who witnessed my distressed plight, ran down into the raging ocean when it rolled backward and rapidly retrieved one for me. It wasn’t as exquisite as some I saw beneath the waves, but it was still quite nice. I asked him if he wanted it for himself, but he kindly replied that he lived here.


That evening Ivan hit hard, flooding our island. We were washed out of our fifth floor ocean-facing villa in the middle of the night as water poured in from our ceiling and under our sliding glass doors.  We left our flooding villa to go down to the front desk to obtain another room. We had to take the elevator—we didn’t dare take the outside stairs and face the hurricane. Upon our descent, we heard water rushing down all around us in a maddening roar.  It made us feel we were in an enclosed descending room within a waterfall.  When we landed on the first floor, we found the entry area covered in water. We were so thankful when the front desk assigned us a dry room on the dry side of the resort. 


After things were somewhat back to normal, I asked the front desk about my shell and customs. I was firmly told, I would not be able to take it to the states.  I was terribly disappointed, but still phoned customs in hopes it might be allowed.  The gentleman kindly informed me it should be fine as long as it was cleaned and sanitized—I soaked the thing in vinegar and ran it through the dishwasher. I went through all that and you know what? I wasn’t even asked about it.


Oh, well, I have it on my mantel and I have my story.


In Jesus Christ’s creative creation,

Val Lee

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Aruba, Carribean Story, Hurricane Ivan, Uncategorized, Vacation | , | Leave a comment