Red Eared Sushi

It's a shame, were it not for the possibility that one or two federal and/or international laws were broken in the making of it, this would be a great story to tell.  Maybe I'll try, leaving out a few details here and there.

I was strolling through <insert some foreign country here>, and stopped in to a Chinese supermarket.  On the way out, I noticed a small bowl full of Red Eared Sliders on the counter.  Now, when I was a kid you could buy these turtles as babies, but too many kids didn't care for them properly, there were cases of salmonella poisoning, and eventually the small ones were taken off the market.

So, I noticed these things sitting on the counter, and it being a Chinese supermarket, I thought I'd ask if they were intended as food, or pets.  They guy behind the counter didn't speak any English, but insisted that I take a few with me.  I should have refused, of course, since there might be a few complications getting them home, so to speak.

Here's a shot of them sitting in the sink at the hotel:

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The funny thing here is that the hotel maid didn't even bat an eyelid when she came through to clean the room.  In America, a few of these in the sink would have generated some kind of reaction..

I left <some country>, crossed what might have been interpreted as an international border of some sorts, and spent a few days in <some other country>.  The hotel help here was just as courageous as in <some country>, as the following setup didn't bother them at all:

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I wonder if they thought these were snacks instead of food.  They probably thought I was going to eat them, or something.

At any rate, I left <some other country>, passed through <some country> and headed back to the US.  Or maybe I didn't.  Kind of hard to remember, now that I think of it.  If I ever have to testify in a court of law, my memory is really pretty fuzzy on these matters.

It was an hour or so before landing in the US that, strangely enough, I got a little nervous for the first time.  I figured anywhere else, I could talk my way out of any border crossing trouble I might get myself into, after all, these were just snacks, right?  But coming in to the US, I should know better.  My God, there could be a hefty fine, jail time, or heaven forbid, the rubber glove treatment any time I ever traveled internationally again!  But I remained calm, and somehow managed to get my three little friends back home.

I set up a tank in my office:

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My coworkers took the liberty of decorating it, and posting some notices, in the event I decided they were snacks, as opposed to pets.

Of course, everybody wanted some, but I wasn't going to risk an act of international smuggling to bring back a few more turtles, right?  So where else to go, but Chinatown, in San Francisco.  A Chinese coworker had told me that if you looked Chinese, and knew where to go, you could buy them in San Francisco, so I dragged her up there one evening, and for the price of a nice dinner got her to fetch some for me.  Of course, I tried myself first, but the owner of the shop insisted he would never indulge in such illegal activity.  I left the shop, sent her in, and a few minutes later she came out with ten of them!  I wanted to grab them, run back into the store, and yell "BUSTED!", but I figured I'd just quit while I was ahead.  Getting them back to Boston from San Francisco was much, much easier than the first batch, given that there weren't any contraband sniffing dogs this time around.

Eventually, they outgrew the tiny little tank, and then the next one, and finally a third one.  I'd like to say we set them free, but some people get all uppity over the notion, given that Red Eared Sliders are not native to the Boston area.  Well, actually they are, but we have darker ones up here, the green Red Eared Sliders are native to the southern USA.

Anyhow, the first to go was X, aka "Bubblehead", who'd grown some kind of bubble on the side of his head.  We figured that maybe direct sunlight and nature would be better for him than tank life, so..


Next, Luigi, who Cara had raised to be, well, almost big enough to eat, if you know what I mean:


There are a couple left in the tank.  When the turtle cam is running, they can be seen by logging in to Yahoo IM and searching for user RedEaredSushi.  If you think about it, that might be a clue as to where I originally found them..  I'll keep the turtle cam up and running until all of them fly the coop..

Update, 8/7/2006, the final two have made their escape!  With plenty of time to prepare for hibernation, they got to the point where the tank just couldn't be kept clean!  I kind of lost track of who was who, but one of these was one of the original 3, the other was from San Francisco.



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