Conch shell from San Blas, Panama

Conch shell from San Blas, Panama

Conch shell from San Blas, Panama

While standing at the tip of the Indian Peninsula, a conch shell just like this washed up to my feet. It was huge, heavy and felt like it had thousands of years of stories written in water all over. I lugged it around with me for a few weeks. It was a travel shoot and because I wanted to travel light. Plus it smelled really awful. It was almost like a dead-fish market inside it. My clothes started stinking, and I felt like I never showered (which was only true sometimes). I left it one of the hotel room.

I regret it. Especially, the lines of the crew member standing next to me who had said, “The ocean has given this to you, keep it”; still haunts me.

Years later, while waiting for a jetty to visit one of the 400ish islands at the archipelago of San Blas, I spotted a vendor who was selling giant conch shells for a $1 each. This one looked like the one I had abandoned.

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