Bahamas trip: Day 6

thumbnailFigure 1: Whole coconut

Update: Now with photos!

After breakfast I take a quick walk around the grounds, photographing some plants that were hard to see in the evening light last night. My wandering comes to stop when I find a fallen coconut. "Jackpot!", I think.

15 minutes later I am still struggling with the inch-thick fibrous husk that surrounds my prize. Have you ever really opened a coconut? A coconut that has not been peeled down to the half-centimeter-thick hard rind with the three dots? I had never even seen one.

thumbnailFigure 2: Taking out a wodge of husk

The husk is three-sided, with the edges becoming lobes near the top. The outer rind is something between leathery and crackly in texture, and underneath it lies anywhere from 1 to 4 centimeters of spongy, coarse fiber, running vertically. Deep inside is the hard-shelled, delicious nut itself, in which I can hear coconut milk sloshing about. Throwing the blasted thing on the road does little good, as the husk readily absorbs the impact. After much experimentation, the successful approach seems to be sawing two parallel lines an inch apart down one face of the husk, then across the section twice. I dig the cube of fiber out. Finally, I can see the nut itself!

thumbnailFigure 3: Husk half off

I then pull out the upper and lower chunks of fiber and rind, leaving a trench running nearly the height of the husk. Finally, I have leverage! The husk comes apart with a bit of elbow grease. I strip the remaining fiber off the nut. It now appears as it would in a grocery store.

thumbnailFigure 4: Bare nut

From there it is a simple matter of switching to the leather-punch tool of my Swiss Army Knife and drilling out two of the "eyes". The milk is delicious, and I share it with my dad and Kathleen. When I drop the nut on the cement patio, the shell cracks perfectly around the equator, and I sit under the gumbo-limba tree to devour my prize.

thumbnailFigure 5: Cracked in half

It is then that Tom walks by and remarks that my coconut is overripe. "No one eats those," he says with amusement. "They're only good for making cakes. You want the green ones, the jelly coconuts." I respond that if that's the case, this may be the last time I can enjoy the overripe ones. A local who is repairing a stone wall offers to climb a tree and toss me down a couple of green ones. I may take him up on his offer tomorrow, when I haven't just eaten half a coconut.

After lunch, we take a walk through the bush to the south. The mosquitos become unbearable once we get to the edge of a brackish lake, but I am able to see the deeper bush for the first time, including Haulback, Rock Bush, and some epiphytes.

The day is capped off nicely by a walk along the beach to the west, where I see nerites clustered on the rocks. My dad shows me a tropic-bird nest, complete with fledgeling. The limestone "cliffs" along the seashore are porous and astonishingly sharp, protecting a variety of creatures I can't identify.


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