Saturday, February 25, 2012


 Half-hour acrylic painting-sketch of Antillean Palm Swifts. They sometimes nest in holes burrowed out out of dead palm trunks.

 More sketches of palms and swifts, including the sketch I based the painting off of.

Yesterday I hacked a half-mature coconut from a tree that was bent over a stream. The meat was soft and I could pull it out with my fingers. Note the unprofessionally mauled coconut and associated shrapnel. I need to buy a sharpening file, but I also need practice.

I've observed three different ways to get a coconuts from the trees in the Dominican Republic:

(1) Climb the tree. This involves putting one's bare feet flat against the tree and monkey-walking up it with one's hands pulling oneself towards the tree. Even the most spry young tree-climbers get tired arms partway up the tallest trees. At that point (or maybe it's where the tree is narrow enough), they wrap their legs around the tree like you do when climbing a rope. Then they heave themselves up the tree in great hauling movements, about 12 inches at a time, slapping their body against the trunk and holding on tightly after each heave. 

I've only seen this done by young adults, children and teenagers. More often than not, they look a little freaked out when they're almost to the top but not yet able to reach the palm fronds and pull themselves to a comfortable position.

(2) Cut long poles and poke the coconuts out of the tree while standing on the ground. Sometimes this involves strapping three or four long poles together to poke into the tallest trees. It works best if you have a Y-shape cut at the end of the top pole, to catch the stem of the coco and push it upwards until it breaks.

(3) Wait until the cocos hit the ground.

I'd like to do number (1), but only on small (10'-15') trees. I love climbing but I'm afraid of heights. I started climbing a short tree a couple days ago, but chickened out and went for option (2) instead, slicing a pole out of a nearby sapling thicket. (I could see that I wasn't the only one who had done this. Lots of same-sized saplings had already been cut from the same thicket.) I got a couple nice young coconuts, filled with sweet water.

The advantage to option (3) is that when cocos fall off a tree, the meat inside is nice and solid. The problem is that I'm competing against every other Dominican to get these cocos. There's no way you're going to find a fallen coconut within 15 feet of a trail - it will have been long-picked over. Case in point - five minutes after I plucked a coco from the tree I photographed, a man came over, cut all the rest down, and took them away.

So from now on I have to put on shoes and tromp through the bush like the rest of the Dominican men, looking for those big mean brown cocos. I think the trick might be to go out the morning after a big windstorm and some have blown off the trees.

No comments:

Post a Comment