David and Kanya Make a Cocoa Frio

By Brian Kelly

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    David Kovalenko lives in Panama where it’s warm all year round. He enjoys not having cold winters because he can go swimming anytime, and tropical plants like bananas and coconuts grow in his backyard.

    David decides to pick some green coconuts like the native Panamanians do. The milky water inside green coconuts is a favorite drink that tastes a little like soda pop and is called cocoa frio.

    It is very hard to climb a coconut palm because there are no branches to hold onto. It’s almost as hard as climbing a flagpole at school. By the time David reaches the leaves and the coconuts, he is tired and the coconuts are hard to knock loose.

    The coconut is covered by a thick husk that David has to remove before he can get to the nut. At least he does not have to worry about them bruising when they hit the ground. David’s father helps him plant a sharpened stick in the ground with its point facing up. Then David hits the coconut on the pointed end of the stick many times to crack open the husk.

    It is hard work and David’s sister Kanya helps when David gets tired. Kanya is wearing a native costume called a mola. It was made by the Cuna Indians who lived on the San Blas Islands a few miles off the coast of Panama.

    Piece by piece David and Kanya pry the coconut husk away. Working on the coconut has made them very thirsty. At last they crack the top off the nut and have a nice cold drink of cocoa frio!

    Photographed by Brian Kelly