The Dollmaker's Shelling Adventure
Saying farewell to Shannon at the airport, the Dollmaker asked her:
"What would you like me to bring you back from Florida, my darling daughter?"
Shannon answered... "A big beautiful shell!"
Good Answer! Okay! No problem!
The Dollmaker was going to the "shelling capital of the world"
and she was on a mission to find the big beauties.
Now, the whole state of Florida and her pearly strings of neighboring islands sit jauntily upon a limestone bedrock containing the skeletal remains of sea creatures, shells, and coral.
Florida is a most fossiliferous place.
Fossils under 65 million years old have their original shell material, so in Florida it's not easy to tell whether the shells are
Recent or Fossil
The fossil shells look as good as the recent ones.
Probably Ice Age Fossils
These Whelks came from Cabbage Key and Cayo Costa-
Islands on the Gulf side of Florida
Perhaps one of these would be the
for daughter Shannon....
The Dollmaker had lots of fun in Florida, but before too long
it was time for Captain Paul (brother Paul) to go back to work and time for
travelling companion, John, to move along and go to visit his cousins in Winterhaven.
so the Dollmaker was faced with a choice-
Either she could stay home alone the next day at her brother's house and do nothing
or she could go on this cruise to the Bahamas.
She took the cruise.
Right- even though the Dollmaker really doesn't like to be onboard a ship, especially
if it's in the water, any time ever, for any reason, and she does recall a time or two
swearing that never in a million years would she ever be caught dead on a cruise
ship... Captain Paul talked her into trying Dramamine. It worked.
Every time the boat tipped as she was walking/staggering across the deck,
the Dollmaker actually got into the swing of things-
and never once felt queasy at all.
Don't ask how it works but it works!
So anyway, the Dollmaker enjoyed the breezy ride, as the waiters kept coming back
with more free drinks, and by the time the ship got to the port
at Grand Bahama Island,
the Dollmaker was ready to pass out.
Instead, it was time to gather her wits and her baggage and her passport and go
through customs.... this being another country and all.
Ok so once she got through that and the taxi ride to the hotel and the enormous line
at the desk in the hotel lobby, throwing open her suitcase and grabbing her shorts
and her collection bags, she raced out the door heading for the beaches and the
Yippee! the Dollmaker was finally here! In the land of beautiful conch shells!
And her only problem was going to be hauling them out of there with her bad back.
But she had her trusty rolling shopping bag and so she started rolling her way down
the curvy paths toward the beach! yay!
Well, the sand was smooth and clean and the water was shallow and turquoise and the
air was warm and it all would have seemed like a glorious paradise if it weren't for
one little problem... there were NO SHELLS! NONE! NADA!
The Dollmaker rolled her way along about a mile of pristine flat sandy beach searching left and right, up and down, in and out,
and she had a single handful of pretty ordinary shells to show for it.
This had to be the wrong beach!
So she raced back to the hotel. She asked the desk clerk and everyone else in the
lobby what beach was the beach she could go to - to find the shells!
The water taxi driver looked like Eddie Murphy!
The Dollmaker was directed to take the Water Taxi to Port Lucaya where she was told she could roll her way through the international marketplace there and go across the street and around the gigantic Western Hotel there and check out the beach in front of that hotel. Got it.
She zoomed off and in an amazingly short amount of time, considering the maze she had to go through to get there, she was on that beach.
The minute she saw the beach, she knew.
There were no shells here either.
The whole beach was just flat.
Beautiful in the setting sun,
but painfully free of anything even resembling a shell.
She couldn't believe it.
She had to give up and go back.
It was dark. The dejected Dollmaker rolled back through the marketplace,
ate some dinner, trudged back down the pier to the water taxi and to her hotel
where she dropped off her completely empty sad little rolling shopping bag
and went back to the beach alone to walk and think.
What was happening?
Wherever did she get the crazy idea that there would be shells all over the place in the Bahamas?
The Dollmaker walked along on the cool barren sand and thought
about the awesome pictures she had seen on the Internet-
they were like National Geographic photographs!
Big piles of gorgeous Queen Conch Shells.
Mountains of the most beautiful shells you ever saw.
And she thought of course that since there were big piles in the pictures,
there would be big piles on the beaches...
Hey... wait a minute!
Just then it occurred to her
that all along she had been asking everyone the wrong question-
that was why she was getting the wrong answer!
The Dollmaker raced back to the hotel and grabbed her map.
The first person she saw was the guard at the parking area in his little guard shack.
She mosied on up to him and asked the right question:
Hey Mon, where do I need to go
to take a picture
of those big piles of conch shells
like I've seen in National Geographic?
Oh those big piles of conch shells! Yes! Like in National Geographic!
You have to go way outside of town- to Fisherman's Hole Road.
Oh she couldn't believe this- music to her ears! She was getting the information!
The accommodating guard shack mon showed the Dollmaker on the map just where
Fisherman's Hole Road was. It was fairly far from her hotel.
But she had til 4PM the next day, when she had to be back at the ship.
She asked him how she could get there.
He recommended taking the bus. No problem.
The Dollmaker was directed to take the water taxi and go through the market. Then down the street to the bus stop and take the bus to Downtown and from there she was to cross the median and take another bus to Fisherman's Hole Road.
Not a problem. She had a PLAN again! YES.
The Dollmaker got up the next day and was ON the 8AM Water Taxi.
The bus picked her up and she made it to downtown
and the second bus dropped her off in the middle of nowhere-
the only thing out there was water. And two fishing shacks...
and a couple of native men cleaning fish...
The Dollmaker got off the bus and it zoomed away.
It was quiet as she took in what lay before her.
The water was on both sides of the road.
She got out on the left hand side of the bus, and gasped!
The entire beach in front of her was textured with hundreds of
old bleached conch shells.
It was a conch shell graveyard! Wow!
But when she turned around and saw what was on the other side of the street,
she could not believe her eyes!
The Dollmaker unabashedly galloped across the street like a frisky pony!
The wheels of her rolling shopping bag were airborne! OMG!
Laid out before her, as far as the eye could see! Three feet deep in some places.
There were MILLIONS OF THEM! The piles of discarded Queen Conch Shells
ran all the way down the beach in both directions and into the water and beyond.
The Dollmaker crossed the street and fell to her knees before them.
She knew she could only carry about seven of them out of there.
They were big and heavy and all she had was her little rolling shopping bag
made of canvas, and some plastic bags.
So she set to work immediately.
The Dollmaker photographed them from every direction and from every angle,
and then she crept carefully over them to the water's edge to select a few
that were clean to take with her.
After she filled her little rolling shopping bag, (with seven shells) she said hello to the two friendly fishermen and took some pictures of them too.
They hailed the bus for her- the same bus- on it's way back to downtown, and off she went, back the way she came, enjoying the ride, chatting with the natives, and eventually drag/rolling her suitcase full of Queen Conch Shells back to her hotel.
Later that day, when the native ladies at the market heard what she had done,
that she had located the source of the conch shells and taken a city bus
instead of a taxi, one of them paid her the best compliment she received on her whole vacation...
she said to the Dollmaker:
You are a smart traveler!
But the best part was
that the Dollmaker was able to bring home exactly what her daughter had asked for.
When she finally opened her suitcase in her own livingroom at home and showed daughter Shannon the seven big beautiful conch shells and told her to pick whatever one she wanted-
That was too cool, mon.
The Wee Peeple Dolls
Kandra Niagra, Dollmaker
PO Box 326
Smithville, Texas 78957
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