Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mangoes, Coconuts, Avocados, oh my....

I just wrote this post for Jim in Mex, in response to his article I saw in OpEd News, The Most Popular Fruit In The World. Reminded me of some favorite fruits, and sea stories...

Discovering Mangoes

While being stationed around the world with the US Navy, I discovered mangoes in Hawaii where a neighbor across the street had a huge tree in his front yard. Every morning he would leave us a dozen or so on our door step. Way to many for my roomies and I to eat, but I'd take them to work on base to share with my fellow co-workers. Once I was picking someone up at the airport and the screener saw with the x-ray the paring knife I used to peel them with in my backpack and confiscated it. I forgot it was there, it was just normal kit.

Then a few years later I was stationed in Gtmo (this was back when the base was used as a fleet training/sea trials center) and we had many mango trees in the base housing areas. Filipinos sailors from the navy ships that cycled thru for training and sea quals would come out and collect as many as they could to 'pickle' so they could bring them back to the states and not be confiscated by Customs upon their entry. You know their familes back in Norfolk certainly appreciated what was likely their variation on chutney.

I wonder if anyone ever thinks to give them to the prisoners there?

Pest Control: Also in Gtmo is a critter indigenous to Cuba called the Banana Rat. (The gal from the zoo in LA had one on the Johnny Carson show many moons ago.) The first time I ever saw one was roadkill and at first I thought it was a groundhog (like Punxsatawny Phil--that big) until I noticed the long ratlike tail. These creatures like mangoes too, so my neighbor would surround the trunk of his trees with aluminum which they couldn't get a grip on to climb.

Fast forward to my next stop, Naval Station Roosey Roads, Puerto Rico which has been abandoned by the USN--turned over to the locals. While running our mile and a half PT and running out of conversation, a co-worker and I started watching for mango trees along the course we took daily. When we spotted mangoes ready for picking, later in the day we'd concoct a reason to get back to that area with the navy-issue pickup truck, park it under the tree, climb on top of the truck roof to reach the ripened fruit, and fill up the bed with however many we thought we could consume or give away.

Also in Puerto Rico were the magnificent coconut palms which were abundent in housing. A big fear was that these coconuts would drop the 30'-40'+ and hit some kid playing in the yards under them. This problem was solved by locals who would climb up, knock them down into dump trucks and haul them away. Perhaps to be sold at the roadside fruit stands where vendors would chill them, knock the tops off with a machete, stick a straw in, and walla...

Coco Frio!

God love the locals and the fruit.

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