We had been house sitting in Grenada for 5 months when we heard that there was a bar on the island that held hermit crab races every Monday night. We just had to check it out!
"These crabs have come all the way from Canada, Germany, England, Trinidad and Italy for the big race. They've had a long flight, but spent the day with their trainers, getting ready for the action tonight!" That was what the announcer was yelling over the microphone as we arrived, and it was the kind of funny commentary that we would enjoy for the rest of the night.
We made our way to the beach and entered the ring, which was really just a big circle dug into the sand using the heel of someone's foot. Chairs surrounded the sandy ring, drinks were poured and bets were made. A bucket was placed, overturned, in the center of the circle, with the spiral-shelled racers underneath, eager to get away.
"Round #1 - The Fastest Crab"
We went up to the booth and placed our bets. A few dollars on our home country of Canada, and a few bucks on the local Grenadian crab as well. We figured that Canada is an athletic nation, and since the Grenadian crab didn't have any jet leg, it must be the most energetic crab in the bunch, right?
As the announcer lifted the bucket they were off...well, every crab except for the Canadian, who choose to instead climb on top of the Grenadian and sit there, like a couple of rocks.
As the German shuffled his way to the outside of the circle and past the line, the race was over and the winning betters were cheering loudly.
We looked at each other, disappointed in our countries' performances.
"Round #2 - The Slowest Crab"
This was perfect, we knew who the slowest of the bunch were and placed our bets on the same two countries. Apparently this round of the races had been known to go on for hours on end, with all of the crabs just sitting in a pile in the center of the sandy circle. Luckily, things were a bit more exciting than that.
The bucket was lifted and shockingly, the Canadian took off towards the finish line! Where was his speed in the previous round? We lost, again.
By this point, we were down about $10.
"Round #3 - Pick Your Own Crab, The Fastest Wins"
A massive box of hermit crabs was placed in the center of the ring. We all gathered around and pulled out a crustacean each. I wanted to test the speed of my crab before fully committing to it, so I placed it on the ground to see what it would do. To my delight, it started "running"! I picked it up, and held on to my (winning) shell-dweller.
As I made my way to the betting booth, the crab started coming out of its shell. He latched on to my finger with the tight grip of his claw and wouldn't let go. I panicked and started shaking my hand furiously to get it off, I may have even yelled like a true girl "Nick, get it off me, get it off!" Finally it released my digit, and as I looked down at my finger, I noticed a huge chunk of skin was missing. We had to name our crabs for this race, and I named mine "Biting Bastard".
As with the rest of the races, our crabs were practically last.
"Round #4 - Fastest Political Figures"
This round was hilarious. We were surprised by the guest appearances of crabs named Fidel Castro, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. We put our money on the Cuban leader, Castro, but it seemed very odd to be yelling "Go Fidel, Go!"
However, we did so in the name of the race and all of our ring-side yelling worked as Fidel scurried across the finish line in first place. Finally, during the last race of the night, we won! Unfortunately, because we had lost every other round, we decided to bet only $2 on the Cuban crab and ended up winning a whopping $4 on the race.
Hermit crab racing is one of the most random and unique things we've ever been a part of while travelling abroad. We've never heard of this type of racing anywhere else in the world and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting this southern Caribbean island. It's just one of the many reasons why we love living in Grenada.