Stepping down three wooden steps from the covered deck, our toes feel the coarse sand firm with moisture. The rain had started falling. Its onset went unnoticed. Only once we had stepped into it did we realise. The shower is fine, almost like mist but weighty enough to tickle the back of our necks as we walk through it towards the shielding extense of the palm leaves.
Saturating the air is the smell of fresh seafood: langostinos . . . pescado . . . camerones.
The light from our pocket flashlights moves along the contours of the sand. It's too dark to see where we're going otherwise. We don't want to hurt our feet so we're careful where we step: the sand is filled with sharp broken shells, twigs, dried sea urchins, and thousands of hermit crabs on the move.
After leaving the restaurant after our dinner we see the stampede of hermit crabs for the first time. They crawl up from the receding ocean under our spotlights to the vegetation at the back of the beach. Inspecting as many as I can, I get down on the ground to marvel at each different shell. White shells with with blue lines curving around an extended cone, brown shells with patches of red, yellow, and green, silver spiral exteriors blending into a light scarlet interior which peeks out from underneath.
Some carry shells of no distinct shape and have sharp bumps and ridges that characterize their form. Some shells are smooth and glossy, others coil around into an elongated cone or a nearly perfect oval. Every one is so intricately detailed in colour and contour. They're all unique.