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Posted on May 27, 2012

The Zena and Zen of Cutting Coconuts- Alto Boquete, Panama

It’s a new pastime of mine. I sit there on the second step with a knife, Kobi’s machete from Don Jose Ramon when we were a newly nomadic family in Costa Rica and a coconut.

Part one is very Zena-like.  I get to play with really big knives and feel powerful for a moment. Whack! It cracks some. Whack! Whack!  and I collect as much of the coconut milk as I can. Whack!  I get it all the way open and move on to phase two, the really calming part.

Part two is very Zen-like.  I sit there, either alone or with our nomadic kids enthusiastically catching and eating every piece as it flies through the air. It’s meditative and requires great concentration. If you don’t, I believe every member of our family has cuts to show for it.
You have three ways to get your edible parts out. The first one rarely works but it’s so cool, we still try for from time to time.
1-      Sometimes, if you whack your coconut just right, the machete loosens the tough outer skins’ hold on the white meat, and you get great big chunks of coconut. I keep trying, but, to date, only Kobi’s managed to work that magic.
2-      The next largest pieces, and the coolest feeling of an accomplished coconut carver, is when you wedge Orazi’s knife from David the artist just between the layers and pop! you fling out pretty impressive pieces of fruit. It’s nice and calming, just sitting there, with nothing in particular on my mind, nothing else I need to run off to do, and just clean my coconut.
3-      The last method, which I find myself using the most, makes the most mess, injures you the most, and gets you the smallest pieces of them all. And still, it’s dependable. You know that almost every time your knife touches the white meat, you will have something to munch on. Of course, sometimes it flies into the mud to my right, into the shrubbery to my left, or straight up into my eye. Still, if you can find it, and clean it, it’s good coconut.
Today, I’m carving a coconut upon Solai’s request. As I sit there and do my art, I’m thinking about my newly-honed coconut carving skills. I’m quite proud of myself. I’m using method three so I’m dodging flying bits in the air or trying to catch them against my chest. She walks by says, “I’m good at cutting them too”.
Gabi, in shock: “What did you say?” ( I hadn’t said a word. This entire discussion was going on in my mind).
Solai: “I’m good at cutting them too?”
Gabi: “Did I say something aloud just now?”
Solai: “No, but I’m good at cutting coconuts too”. She smiles.
Woah. Did she get this from me? It must be my DNA. Still, double woah.
In our lives, we always find the opportunities to learn new skills. Sometimes it is thrust upon us by our bosses, our children; sometimes we find it in the silence hallways of our lives, by chance, or (in my case) our of hunger. It is in these moments of learning, that our souls grow, that we discover in us awesomeness that we previously were unaware of. Traveling the world has brought to me many new skills I would have never had the chance to meet. World travel has invited me to rise to the occasion in ways that I never imaged I could have.
Where have you grown in your life, in unexpected ways? What skills have you gained, what art have you developed in the past months in your own special way? What value have you found in this serendipitous learning?
I believe we all learn from each other, inspire each other by sharing. Share your comments, share this with friends, and share with us online at twitter, facebook, and youtube. Don’t miss a single adventure or insight, join our rss feed. We are honored to share our lives, together, inspiring each other. Reach out; we’re waiting!




  1. Wow – I am now sitting miles from any shops, and craving coconut!!! LOL
    I have no such food based skills, but have taught myself the saxophone, and now have a trombone – so will be teaching myself that next!! I have emphysema amongst my health challenges – so wind instruments help keep my lungs healthy. I played the trumpet at school, and still do. Today we were entertaining a group of elderly people, having their Jubilee lunch!! That gives me great pleasure, seeing the joy, and hearing them sing along!!
    I am looking forward to more of your blogs 😀

    • Wow. Blowing your way to health through music. I love it! Yes, my coconut cutting skills are definitely from the road. It was easy. If i want to eat the fruit, i need to learn how to cut it. i love you wendy. enjoy teaching yourself music, quite an admirable trait. the self-discipline required is great. and you’ve got it. i’d love to be at your next jubilee lunch! i love the elderly…


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