On my walk down the beach last week I noticed the guys drinking coconut water from coconuts pulled near the beach which is public access.
This week I noticed a small pile of some fifty coconut husks, and my mind went to those old days of coconut harvesting, and of course of the many uses of the coconut husks.
Coconut farmers were paid three dollars to collect the coconuts and pile them on the beach for husking. This was so because the mosquitoes in the beach were more bearable than in the interior. There on the beach, under the shade of some coconut trees, they peeled these coconuts using a peeling iron. It took only three moves to insert the coconut onto the iron and the nut was extracted.
The nuts went into one pile to be delivered to the buyer and the husk unto another pile. The farmer who had to peel coconuts received three dollars per 1,000 coconuts. The owner of the plantation received 30 dollars when he delivered it at Belize City to the buyers/exporters. This was hard work as he had to be bent over six to eight hours over the peeling iron. Many farmers could peel 1,000 easily but one or two excelled with 2,000 a day.
Now to the coconut husks. Some kids went for them with their dories and brought them to the village for sale at five cents for 25 husks. Coconut husks were the main source of fuel to cook beans, boil of soup, fry fish, bake corn tortillas, bake sweet buns, smoke a fish or turtle meat, or barbecue some mullets.
Firewood was used for long hours of cooking, but coconut husks for quick starts and fast cooking. It was also burnt in buckets and placed in strategic spots for the smoke to drive away the mosquitoes. So as you can see 25 years ago, nothing went to waste. The nuts were important to the exporters, and the husks to the housewives who cooked with them and children who sold them. Hey, I still make my chicken and pork chop barbecue with coconut husks. Try it. It’s fun and tasty.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist