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The Humble Coconut

There are a few interesting things about the coconut.

- The water is a near perfect electrolytic solution, therefore providing incredibly efficient rehydration.

- The meat is high in fiber and fat as well a a good number of vitamins and minerals, meaning it’s not exactly a complete diet, but you can survive on only coconut for months.

- This one I find of particular and personal interest… there is exactly the right amount of water in a coconut to rehydrate you from the effort of getting into the fucking thing in the first place. I learned this firsthand back when we lived in Hawaii and had a coconut palm right out our front door.

They really are argumentative bastards. If, for whatever reason, you aren’t familiar, the brown, hairy bowling ball at the supermarket is the actual seed of the tree. That seed is in a pod. A giant green pod (generally 3-4 times the size of the bowling ball), and this pod is made of what I can only assume is naturally occurring Kevlar.

This shit would blunt hacksaws. Tearing at it works, a little, but it’s exhausting. Hitting it with a machete just seems to piss it off. And this is all before you even get to the fuzzy plate armor encasing the level boss.

Yet you can get a coconut on the side of the road here for a few pesos and watch as the vendor adroitly pops the top off one of them sonsofbitches in seconds.

The trick, it’s taken me some time to learn, is actually two things:

1) A machete that’s sharper than a weasel that’s got a graduate degree in sharpness from Sharp University.

2) trusting yourself enough that you aren’t going to lop off a finger when you wield that machete, with some force, down on a wobbling and pugnacious ball-thing you’re trying to hold stable with your other hand.

I was getting pretty good at it. When I learned the bloody things have another, heretofore undiscovered, defensive strategy.

The trees get tall. Really tall. Taller than any A-frame ladder is going to get you to within even optimistic reaching distance of a cluster of coconuts. I suppose one can leash an extendable ladder to the tree but that is unstable as hell, trees sway around in the wind, and I’m scared to death of heights.

And they ain’t like clusters of grapes or ripe apples where you can hit them with a stick and they just fall. You’re just as likely to knock loose a frond. Which will heavily concuss you as a best case scenario - evisceration by the serrated blade edges being the mercifully unlikely, but worst case.

Plucking a coconut is more like unscrewing a three pound lightbulb. This is due to both the tedious screwing motion to pop it free and in that you can’t let it drop or it will paradoxically (for all the effort it usually takes) crack open on impacting the ground and bleed out all the water in a disappointing second.

Alas, I lack the coordination or the youth to go scampering straight up the tree. I also lack the spare cash to buy a single-function cherry-picker. So the coconuts in the heavily laden tree on the right, by our classroom, have grown so close yet so far.

Which is a constant bummer. Always looking up at all the things I want to decapitate but can’t.

What’s not a bummer… The much shorter tree on the left is also a coconut palm. And it’s starting to fruit. Right at about my standing eye level.

The coconuts are still on the small side. But I can wait.

And in the meantime, year-round, there’s the guy by the side of the road who will always be far better at getting into them than me anyway.

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