By Angel Nuñez
“Did you know that the palm trees here in Ambergris Caye intentionally grow with an incline so that brides can pose on them?” This was the humorous caption that Jose Luis Zapata, one of San Pedro’s leading photographers, put on this photo. Although we do realize that this is only good humour, if we go back twenty five years ago, we can definitely say that the coconut palm tree is indeed a miracle tree as the photographer describes.
COCONUT WATER: Twenty five years ago San Pedranos enjoyed this delicious fresh and sweet water almost on a daily basis. On Sundays we would walk down the beach and pull the coconuts to treat our friends, relatives and special visitors like the nuns, priests and vacationers.
COCONUT MEAT: The thin flesh that grows on the inner part of the shell is a delicacy that we have always enjoyed in San Pedro. Very often we would enjoy it after dinner like a dessert.
EXPORTATION: Between the years 1910 to 1940, there was a vibrant coconut industry on Ambergris Caye. Most of the men were employed by the owners of coconut plantations to collect coconuts, dry them and extract the meat for exportation. The oil of the coconut was used as a base in the making of soap in the U.S.A. This industry kept San Pedro going for some 30 plus years.
COCONUT OIL: Each and every household in San Pedro used to make coconut oil for our daily
consumption such as frying fish, baking and general home cooking. Thank God the process of making oil was discovered as it was a good substitute for pig fat/lard which was the only other source of cooking oil that was made locally as well as imported.
COCONUT TARTS, PIES and EMPANADAS: How can anyone forget these delicious treats that we have always enjoyed in San Pedro up until this day!
ENTERTAINMENT: The leaning coconut trees like you see in the photo were liked by all children because we could fasten a rope unto them and swing to make a free fall into the sea. Because of the incline they also provided an easy climb to pull the coconuts for a rich treat.
EROSION: This miracle tree as been the protector of our beaches along the entire 25 miles of shoreline that Ambergris Caye enjoys. These trees have a very intense system of fibrous roots which hold the coral sand on our beaches and thus prevent erosion. Thank God, the Belize Barrier Reef and the coconut trees we still have an Ambergris Caye. The coconut plantations and its corresponding industry were destroyed by the hurricanes of 1931 and 1942 but we still have extensive coconut trees along our entire beachfront.
To conclude on this miracle tree for San Pedro and Ambergris Caye, I can attest that the only thing we did not use this tree twenty five yeas ago was to serve as a beautiful backdrop for our beautiful couples who got married on Ambergris Caye.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
Contact the Author at: [email protected]