Vinaka Vakaniu

I adore the coconut, in a way that I’ve never adored a tree fruit before. Fijian life has given me a new appreciation for the abundance of nature, as there is little in daily life in Fiji which the coconut doesn’t contribute to.  Actually, a great deal of daily life depends on it.

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Bawara – sheath of the coconut stem which is crucial fire-starting material

So how, may you ask, does one Fijian villager benefit from the gifts of our dear friend vuniniu (the coconut tree)?  Let me tell you:

  1. Cooking: We use the bawara and outer shell of the mature coconut for cooking fires.
  2. Coconut milk:  If you’ve read any thing else of mine, then you may know I love lolo (fresh coconut milk).  To the point where I’ll put it in my coffee and oatmeal in the morning (and then not be hungry again until the afternoon because it’s so filling… guess it doubles as a money saver?). “How would you could that?” is almost always followed by, “Oh that’s delicious in coconut milk!” I’m not complaining 😉
  3. Coconut Oil – If you are alive and using a computer, then I’d bet you’ve read about the miracle that is coconut oil.  Maybe you even buy some oil of your own! Well here it’s homemade (more on that later) and used mainly for body oil and sometimes cooking.  I use it as a lotion, hair conditioner, cooking oil, and mouth wash (weird, but healthy I swear).  It’s also anti-fungal, and used medicinally sometimes.  I’ve even got rid of mild skin fungus with it! (TMI? Eh, better than boils or parasites…)
  4. Sasa – The dried out palm fronds, called “sasa” are used to make traditional brooms with the same name.  They are also used in gardens to protect seedlings from strong rain and harsh sun.
  5. Taqa – Coconut palm fronds can be woven into a durable, and quite beautiful basket.  Perfect for carrying what else but, coconuts!

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These are just some of the uses that came to mind, I can imagine I’ve even forgotten some.  So you see, from helping us glow like tropical goddesses to protecting the tiny buds of next months dinner, the coconut really sets the bar for utility here in Fiji.  What else could possibly be vinaka vakaniu, or “good as the coconut”? I can only hope one day to be half as good as one.  Until then, I’ll settle for being slightly coco-nuts 😉

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