Sunday, January 16, 2011

Coconuts 101

In the spirit of positivity, I really had a great week and a really nice weekend. Of course the week it had its glitches – embarrassing myself in my first Spanish lesson, finding out that more friends have ulterior motives – but work and meetings with Trinidad and Tobago colleagues went well and I even got to present my work on social media at the all staff meeting on Thursday. I was happy with how it went and received a lot of positive feedback, which gave me a bit of natural high the rest of the morning! My weekend started early with a tour of Parliament and Harrison’s Cave in the afternoon. Parliament was cool, just essentially a smaller version of Canada’s Senate and House of Commons, but with all the same silly formalities. The Caves, advertised as a “must see” for tourists in Barbados, was very beautiful but a little too built up. I love seeing natural wonders, in a naturally wonderful place. Glass elevators and fancy Segway trams aside, the winding tunnels of stalactites and stalagmites, with carved waterfalls and calcium deposits made me wonder how Barbados came to be formed geologically – which luckily they showed in a film after the tour.

With the surf not so ideal, I opted to learn a little something about coconuts. Who knew they would be such a complex…fruit? Sam was asked to pick coconuts and do some trimming at an old (and adorable) German lady’s place so I tagged along to get what Sam dubbed a “coconut education.” And now I will bestow my newfound learnings on y’all.

Essentially, there are three main stages that a coconut goes through while it’s on the tree. When the fruit is still young, it’s green, smooth and the coconut water inside will be at its prime and the flesh is really just a gel at this time. And generally you see alcoholic drinks being served in young coconuts. Over the next few months, the coconut starts drying out, becoming more fibrous and getting brown veiny spots on the outside. The water tastes sour or bitter but the flesh inside is getting meaty so it’s apparently at the best for using in coconut bread. Finally, about six months after the youngin’ popped up, the “old” coconut, with most of the water gone, will be ready. After hacking off the outside and middle fibers, the core is what we see, at home, as a coconut – with a hairy, hard, brown shell and white flesh. I had no idea! Part of me really wanted to learn to climb the tree, but Bajans learn from young so I think I will leave that to the professionals.
Topping the rest of the day off with snorkeling, napping on the beach, fish soup and ice cream, I got introduced to the indigenous sport of Barbados. Want to wager a guess? Road tennis! Take the look of a ping-pong tabletop, enlarge it on pavement and combine it with tennis rules and you got road tennis. Apparently the game has been played here for close to 50 years and now a few other nations are jumping in too. I can see the appeal – super cheap to play, you can draw up a court almost anywhere and it’s a pretty good workout. It looks like this:

I should get to practicing some Spanish so that I don’t stick out like a sore thumb in lessons next week!

Hasta luego!

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