The scuba diving here is outstanding because of the incredible coral formations. We saw brain coral formations larger than a school bus, more colors than you can find in a deluxe crayon box, and constantly readjusting fish populations darting in and out of the coral. The reef is teeming with life and the struggle of living, one little fish protecting his corner of the coral, while others are waiting for it to venture out to serve as their next meal. Even snorkeling off shore from the resort, there are thousands of fish living around and within the coral heads immediately off the beach. Most of the fish served at the resort is caught by the villagers and within 48 hours of serving, so staleness has not been a problem. This afternoon, Annabelle will be using the GoPro to film some of the beach reef at high tide, but don’t expect any video or photos until we get back to better wifi. This has been pretty weak and inconsistent - aren’t we spoiled by our level of connectivity?
Feb 20 (Friday) - Tree of life. One of the Blue Lagoon staff did a demonstration of how the coconut is used by the villagers for everything from food to fuel. Armed with a spiked wooden spear and a long bladed machete, he was able to remove the husk of the brown, ripe coconut to expose the inner hard shell nut, similar to what we buy at the market. The hull is not totally discarded though, as it is used for firewood, tinder, or as shell-like ground cover to prevent erosion like we do with bark mulch. There seemed to be a real trick to cracking open the hard inner shell of the coconut by recognizing the ‘face” of two eyes and mouth. Between the two eyes front to back and along each ‘cheek” also running front to back are three suture lines. The easy one to crack with a quick whack of the machete is the line between the eyes, releasing the inner milky coconut water. This is good for drinking but the real coconut milk or cream comes from soaking grated coconut with water and then skimming off the cream or oil off the top. Almost everything is cooked here with coconut oil and moistened with coconut milk. If you like coconut you’d be in heaven. One the nut is cracked, the white meat is peeled off the hard outer shell with a simple table knife slowly curling off a 1/2 inch wide ribbon of delicious coconut meat, easy to eat even with the slight outer bark sheath. Now green coconuts were an entirely different story as you have to cut these from the tree, instead of waiting for the brown ripe nuts to drop. The husk is removed using a similar method of the spike but when the nut is cracked the water is very clear and the meat is soft, somewhat slimy, but sweet. This is what villagers use for a snack whereas the brown nut firm coconut is for cooking. For all its many uses and abundance on the island, it is known as the “tree of life”.