Coconuts Fall On Fridays

Island Notes 58

A personal quest for calendar closure and a sense of time.

Another week passes by.  I lie on my hammock and reminisce how Fridays used to mean something.  Without a “real job” anymore, days drift easily into daze on the island with no apparent direction home. Wait a minute.  This is home.

But back in the day when I worked all week like many people still do, Fridays were celebratory times.  They marked the beginning of weekends, those cherished, two-day stretches of time with little or no career responsibilities.  In celebration of these fleeting bursts of individual freedom, TGIF-Thank God It’s Friday- was invented by the American bar industry in the 1960s.  The concept was to promote early weekend partying and sell a lot of firewater.  It was and still is going strong.  I also remember the famous,

Mr. Lou Rawls

quintessentially American philosophical lyric, “The eagle flies on Fridays”.  It was a line from the song, Stormy Monday, made popular by Lou Rawls and others who crooned in celebration of that end-of-the-week payday in US dollars.

Here down island, Fridays don’t have that same sense of importance to me as they once did back in America.  Resorts on Bonaire celebrate every sunset with daily happy hours much to the delight of thirsty tourists jamming their tropical dreams into weeklong vacation packages.  Plus, these days my pay comes sporadically at best, pegged on arbitrary month days like the 1st., the 15th and the 20th. rather than on the holy grail of weekdays, Friday.

But I am a traditional romantic, or perhaps, a romantic traditionalist.  I still have a need for calendar closure, the segmentation of time, the division of days in digits.  Fridays still need to mean something more than just another swing in the hammock.  So I’ve come up with a theory that compliments my surroundings while honoring the blessed end of the week.  It is simple.  Coconuts fall on Fridays.  Why not?  If true, this would return some sense of constancy back to the ends of my weeks.  It was time for some serious data collection, or in the very least, a nice drive around the island.

Bonaire in the 1840s

But before departing, I must explain something. Some here complain that palm trees are not native to the island and should not be part of the modern day botanical landscape.  I disagree.  Not only are they too beautiful to dispose of, but I have empirical evidence to the contrary.  In my living room hangs a replica painting of Kralendijk harbor in 1842.  A handsome, three-mast Dutch trade ship is moored offshore.  It the background, the land is graced by coco palms shading the colonial buildings.  This proof is only 170 years old.  But if one looks at the ages-old ocean currents of the area, there is a dominant one that sweeps along the palm-studded coasts of northern Brazil, Guyana, and Surinam.  It squeezes through the gap between Trinidad and Venezuela called The Dragons Mouths.  It then scoots west over the Caribbean Sea to Bonaire and the other islands of the ABCs.  Coconuts float easily on water.  I find their rotted husks all the time washed up on our beaches along with Made-In-Brazil flip flops.  Yeah, palm trees are native on Bonaire.  They have been floating in here for eons.  Game on.

Dos Pos

There are specific places on the island where coco palms congregate.  I choose three spots with a preponderance of palms to survey: Dos Pos, Pink Beach and Sunset Beach.  It is Friday.  I start the drive listening to Bob Marley on the CD player and head first to Dos Pos (Two Wells).  This is an inland site down in a lush valley north of the town of Rincon.  There is a sizable mango tree grove here.  It’s a good place to watch parrots eat the fruit. It also has a good stand of coco palms.  The coconuts cling high around the trunks, weighing down these sturdy trees.  The trade winds are blowing heavy today, maybe 20 knots or more.  Something is going to drop soon.  I sit down and wait.  Ten minutes.  Twenty minutes.  A half hour passes.  It is still Friday, but no coconuts drop.  I get in the car and head toward Pink Beach.

Pink Beach

Pink Beach was the nicest beach around until Hurricane Lenny blew by in 1999.  Locals tell me that the sand was thick, pink in color and the beach was the best place on island to lime away a day.  But bad boy Lenny took most of that pink sand and dropped it off into the depths right off shore.  One hundred yards out the sea bottom disappears quickly into indigo emptiness.  So did that all brilliant, ruddy sand.  Out of sight.  After Lenny, coco palms were planted along the beach to bring back some of the beauty.  There is still some pink sand to be seen, but mostly the beach consists of broken pieces of dead white coral.  When I arrive to scope the palms, the wind has cranked up to maybe 25 knots.  Plenty of ripe coconuts sway in the breeze.  I sit to watch.  Nothing falls expect the setting sun.  I don’t have much time left.  I leave for the final destination.

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach also has some hearty palms flanking the coastline.  Sailboats cruise by here all the time.  Locals flock here during the Golden Hours to walk their dogs, have a barbeque or slam down a cold Polar beer.  I come to watch the coconuts fall.  The winds are still gusting.  The cocos look like they will fall any moment.  They should.  It’s still Friday.  But the sun sinks fast in the tropics.  I am rewarded with a split-second Green Flash, that cosmic convergence of sun, horizon and color verde.  Soon the stars come out and the sky turns deep purple. No one is left on the beach.  I finally turn and head toward the car.  Thud!

Was that the sound of a coconut hitting the ground?  I peer into the darkness for signs of freshly fallen evidence, but can’t see a thing.  I must come tomorrow early and look.  I know I heard one fall.  Hell, yes.  Coconuts do fall on Fridays. I think.

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