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Husking Coconuts for a Living

Can you imagine husking coconuts for a living? Husking refers to the act of peeling a coconut and by that I mean removing the shell from around the nut. To do this you use a sharply pointed iron called an “Estaca”. Half of the estaca is firmly inserted into the ground and the half with the sharp point remains out. You need a special knack to peel a coconut – something easier demonstrated than explained.

The experts in the art of husking coconuts were don Pablin (actually Mr. Pablo Kumul I), Victor Lara, Benigno Lara and Bartolo Gomez, to name a few. And how many coconuts did these guys have to peel to collect a decent days wage? Well, at a dollar per 1,000 coconuts, they had to do two or three thousands to earn 20 to 25 dollars per week. These guys had hands as thick and rough as sandpaper and muscles as developed as Hulk.

Coconut husking was no easy job. First it meant collecting the coconuts with a “shooshak” all over the cocal, piling them on the beach where the mosquitoes were more bearable, and then peeling them. The nuts was placed in the dory and brought to the village to be delivered at Mr. Blake’s property. Mr. James Howell Blake was the owner of the cocal or plantation and an exporter of coconuts.

Not so tough a job that you wouldn’t recommend it to someone. Don Pablin actually passed on the tradition to his son Pablo Domingo Kumul who also worked for Papa Blake. Pablo D. Kumul has also passed on this art of husking coconuts to his grandchildren but only as a hobby for grandma to make those delicious coconuts tarts and coconut panades. Not a bad way of earning a living twenty five years ago.

1. Mr. Pablo Kumul was one of the many coconut
    harvesters in Ambergris Caye who passed this art of
    husking to his son Pablo Kumul II.
2. Pablo Domingo Kumul demonstrating the art of husking

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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