Just before you read the rest of this post about Caribbean coconuts, I want you to do me a favor_
1. Get into a comfy position
2. Close your eyes
3. Let oneself get nice and relaxed, almost to the point of napping
four. Think about you are a single a warm Caribbean beach
5. Discover that image in your mind for a although
six. When you have your image memorized, open your eyes
Now, what exactly did you see in your mental image of a warm Caribbean beach_
Did your image include coconut palm trees_ Did you smell coconut oil_
I am betting you did simply because this is what most individuals consider of when they believe about a Caribbean beach. Powder white sand, blue-green water shimmering in the sunlight, and those iconic coconut palm trees fringing the length of the beaches.
Coconut palm trees are so significantly a portion of everyone’s vision of a Caribbean landscape, they assume they have been constantly there.
But… guess what_!
They are NOT in fact native to the Caribbean and they have been there significantly less than 500 years!
They have been introduced to the Caribbean area by the Spaniards and other European colonizers for the duration of the initial half of the 1500’s. Nevertheless, Christopher Columbus and his men never saw a coconut in any of their four voyages to the New Globe. These took location amongst 1492 and 1504. Coconuts merely have been not there when they got there. They came later.
I know this might sound a tiny surprising. You might be saying some thing like, But… I believed coconuts could resist the erosion of sea water and had been buoyant sufficient to float for thousands of miles. Proper_ Is not this how they got to the Caribbean and all more than the world_ They floated there from someplace else, right_
Nicely, I know this is what many men and women believe. In reality, this is what some historians believed. Even so, the evidence proves this to be incorrect — and it does so extremely definitively.
None of the earliest recorded records of the Spaniards, and the records of other colonizing European nations that had been exploring the Caribbean in the late 1400’s and extremely early 1500’s, ever mention a coconut. In addition, there was no Taino word or Carib word for coconut — these had been the native individuals of the Caribbean Islands and if any individual knew if they have been there, they would have known. A native word for coconut is absent since coconuts did not exist prior to the Spaniards brought them there. Most linguistics think the word coconut comes from the Spanish word for monkey because they thought the coconut looked like a monkey face with two eyes and an open mouth.
Now, the Spaniards DID in fact learn coconuts on the WEST coast of Central America. For a lengthy time, the history books and other historical accounts mistakenly mentioned that coconuts had spread from the west coast of Central America more than into the Caribbean. Nevertheless, genetic evidence extremely convincingly proves this to be completely wrong!
It turns out that when you run DNA analysis on coconuts all over the planet, they fall into two distinct and separate genetic groupings. They are all 1 species but the two groups are genetically different sufficient they can be very easily separated.
1 group of coconuts originated in the Pacific Indonesian area. The other group of coconuts originated close to India on the Indian Ocean. The only place the two groups seemed to have mixed is on Madagascar. It has been very convincingly established that the coconuts that are discovered on the WEST side of Central America are in the Pacific Indonesian group and that the coconuts discovered in the Caribbean are in the group from India. Therefore, the coconuts in the Caribbean did NOT originate from the west coast of Central American.
If you play historical detective, it appears that coconuts from India were first taken by people or by currents to the east coast of Africa. Then much later on, in the 1500’s, they were moved by people across to the west coast of Africa and then soon after this occurred, they had been taken to the new globe by the colonizers and_or the missionaries of the day.
As an exciting side note, I would like to mention that it is thought that coconuts on the west coast of Central America have been brought by the seafaring Polynesians a lot more than 1000 years ahead of Columbus found the New World. Now, that is some thing to ponder! In no way take some thing written in a history text book as the gospel. It is virtually particular now that Columbus was NOT the first non-native to learn America.
Okay, back to the Caribbean coconut story_
Once the Europeans discovered the coconut, they speedily realized that this would be a really basic way of carrying sterile water (coconut water) and nutrients aboard ships heading out on long journeys across salt water where fresh water would be scarce and frequently became contaminated.
Coconuts were planted in the Caribbean because at least the middle 1500’s as there are written record of this. Often they were planted around the margins of the sugar plantations to give water and meals to these who had been working in the plantations. It wasn’t till a couple of centuries later that coconuts have been grown on a large scale commercial basis as a cash crop.
Now, I know this could sound off-subject but please indulge me for a moment because I want to inform you about ship wrecks prior to I continue with the story about Caribbean coconuts_
There have been numerous ship wrecks in the 1500’s, which includes the extremely well-known incident where an entire fleet of Spanish ships loaded with gold sank as they tried to make it via the Mona Passage amongst the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico during a terrible hurricane. In reality, the Mona Passage is renowned for ship wrecks as it was challenging sea conditions to navigate, even under the greatest weather situations. In reality, the Mona Passage can be tough to navigate even right now with modern technologies. Several guys have lost their lives in this area as many ships have wrecked there.
So, why am I talking about ship wrecks when I should be speaking about coconuts_!
Effectively, it turns out that coconuts spread throughout the Caribbean quite swiftly due to ships moving via — i.e. the ships moved them about far faster than currents ever could have. In fact, when there had been ship wrecks, there could be many thousands of coconuts thrown overboard in a brand new location for coconuts. As these coconuts came ashore, some of them surely took root naturally. However, as it turns out, it was relatively frequent for the men and women in the Caribbean region to intentionally take the coconut bounty provided to them by the sea and plant them. In this way, most of the coconuts would survive to create an additional coconut plant. In fact, this is exactly what occurred in West Palm Beach Florida and how it got its name. A ship wrecked offshore sending out a handful of thousand coconuts which the people in the area planted as they came ashore.
The most popular vacation location in the Dominican Republic is now on the east coast and is referred to as Punta Cana. In truth, not just the original small community of Punta Cana but the complete 39 miles of eastern coastline is generally referred to as Punta Cana or the Punta Cana Coast. Even so, early investors in the location dubbed it, The Coconut Coast. This was due to the fact of the quite lush and really mature coconut palm forest that lines the shore in this region and actually extended pretty far inland. You will still often see the phrase, The Coconut Coast employed.
I have no definitive proof but I cannot support but consider that those coconut palm trees lining the Punta Cana coast and that vacationers so take pleasure in may possibly be the descendants of coconuts lost in the course of a ship wreck lengthy ago. The coconut palm tree grove there could even be from an old ship wreck as extended ago as the 1500’s. In a way, you may possibly be viewing an historical marker for a ship wreck when you gaze upon these coconut trees!
The next time you are in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere in the Caribbean and you see a coconut palm tree, keep in mind that you are NOT hunting at a plant native to Caribbean. Try to close your eyes and picture what the Caribbean landscape would appear like without coconut plants. It is tougher to do than you may possibly believe! We are so conditioned to feel of coconuts as being synonymous with the Caribbean. Maybe it is a very good lesson to usually keep questioning items, no matter how specific we are they are correct.