By Angel Nuñez
The national tree of Belize is the mahogany but folks in San Pedro believe that if there were a national tree of Ambergris Caye, it must be the coconut tree. This is so because the coconut tree has played a big role in the development the Island so much that it was at one time it was the economic base of most early Sanpedranos. A coconut exportation industry ran from early 1900 to as far as 1942 when a hurricane destroyed the industry.
Now apart from the economic benefits, this incredible tree has also been enjoyed in many other forms. The first thing that comes to mind is the relaxing siesta hours Under the See…I mean “Under the Tree”. Sanpedranos became so used to simply tying a hammock between two coconut trees and the rest of Mother Nature was automatically there- the sea breeze, fresh sea breeze, the sound of the reef, and the chirping birds. The 15 minute siesta could easily escape to half an hour or more.
But the shade of the coconut tree was not the only benefit for the folks in San Pedro. From the fleshy meat inside of the nut, Sanpedranos have learned to make delicious candies and pastries like cocobrut, tableta, coconut fudge, crema de coco, coconut tart and ‘stretch me guts’ Who in the world has not enjoyed a tasty and juicy coconut tart, coconut empanadas, and coconut pie or ‘pai de coco’?
But we have not ended here. With the same fleshy meat San Pedro folks can extract the milk to make coconut bread, coconut rice and the ever popular delicacy rice and beans with coconut milk. With the same coconut milk extracted from a grated coconut, our folks used to produce coconut oil to be used for cooking, frying, baking or as a touch for special dishes like guacamole.
End of the coconut story? Almost! The water found inside the nut is another delicacy. Coconut water can be drunk as is and not only is it refreshing and thirst quencher but also good for the proper function of the kidneys. This coconut water can be mixed with gin or vodka for some delicious cocktails like coco loco, coconut fruit punch and the ever delicious coconut piña coladas.
As a local home remedy for loose bowels (cagalera) we used to boil small green coconuts in some water and drink the water to control the bowel movements. Then at fiesta time the coconut palms made excellent shade on palapas for the folks. As a decoration the palm is woven for attractive stage decorations and arches. Additionally coconut hats can be woven with the green flexible blades/leaves of the palm. Ah before I forget, coconut trees make excellent backdrops for wedding photography. Did you know that coconut water can replace any energy drink? It is natures natural Gatorate. How about that for the incredible coconut tree! Sanpedranos made it so many many Years Ago in San Pedro. I would venture to add that any tourist visiting San Pedro, Ambergris Caye does not have a complete vacation if he does not get to enjoy at least one of the above of the incredible coconut tree.
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]