An Adventure

It’s fun to be here with Mum and Erin, but I have to say that for the pure adventure potential, you need yourself an 11 year old boy, and Hank’s my man on the ground.  Yesterday we decided to go on an adventure, and after slathering our pathetically Canadian winter skin with sunscreen, off we went.  We had only two goals. Find out what was beyond the little point near our beach, and buy some food.  We’re cooking for ourselves here for most meals, and that means adventuring to find out what people here eat,  what it’s called and how to prepare it.  So far we really only had coffee, tea, the box milk,  bread, cheese and three apples that we’re pretty sure came from Canada, they were so old and yucky.  Apples, clearly are not a Caribbean thing, but we were so tired and confused that first trip to the supermercado, that we bought them just because they were familiar. They were expensive too – so yesterday I was on a mission to find out what produce was local, cheap and good.

Hank and I struck out for the point – walking along the beach and seeing all that we could see.  In the afternoon the wind comes up here, and the kite surfers come out in throngs.  Hank stopped periodically to survey and count them.

(If it matters to you, as it did to Hank, you might like to know that there were 56 kite surfers) On the way we found a stand that sold iced tea (which is nothing like at home, but "still very good" according to Hank.)  When we got to the little point, it turned out that there were three big rocks, and a guy selling shells.  This was not at all disappointing, since for some time as we walked towards them, we thought there was just rocks.  Rocks with shells was very impressive, comparatively speaking.

Still, we hadn’t found any fruit or vegetables at all and the gentleman and I figured that maybe there were only restaurants on the beach, not stores, and so we struck our way through a posh hotel, and out to the road.  (There is only one road in Cabarete, so if something is not on the beach, it must be on the road.) We walked along (discovering that the bushes next to us were chock full of a million spiders, which we decided to be very careful about, since, as Hank pointed out "we aren’t from here and we don’t know what’s dangerous."  I was pretty sure they weren’t dangerous, but a little danger is a good thing on an adventure, so I didn’t disabuse him of the notion.)  After a while we both of us were surprised to come across chickens. 

Chickens, right there at the side of the road, walking around and doing whatever it is that chickens seem to do, with baby chicks in tow. (The baby chicks were a particularly good part of the adventure, and Hank took this picture so that we could show his Gramy and Mum.)

We both agreed that if we were chickens, we would think that the side of the road was a sub-optimal place to trot around with your babies, but again – we conceded that we know little of the motivation of Dominican chickens (or chickens in general) and that maybe the side of the road was the very best place to be.  "We don’t know" Hank posited, "what is lurking off the road." 

We kept walking, and saw a little stand up ahead on the road, and as we got closer, we talked about what it might be.  Probably a food place, Hank thought (probably because we were looking for a food place) and we started thinking about what we hoped to find.  I wanted avocados (it seemed like they might grow here, and I love them) and Hank wanted a coconut.  "A coconut?" I asked him.
"Yes," replied Hank, with a great deal of seriousness. "A coconut so we can open it and drink what’s inside. You can do that." 
"I know you can do that Hank, or rather, I know it can be done – but how do you do it? I don’t know if we should buy a coconut.  I think they’re hard to open."
"We could google it."
"True." 

We walked along the dusty road with the chickens until we were at the stand, and lo and behold, it was food.  There were eggs, sitting out in little flats, (that made total sense.  All those chickens had to be doing something) and there were indeed avocados, and tomatoes, and cucumbers, and little bananas, and pineapples. Little oranges, and something that looks not quite like a lime but might be (I don’t think it is, but neither Hank nor I had any idea) and this pale green vegetable that we had eaten in a restaurant the night before that was really tasty.  I don’t know what they’re called, but they’re used like potatoes here, even though they’re not really all that starchy.  We bought one because we knew they were good, and we thought we could figure out how to cook it.  Most exciting of all.  Coconuts.  Big green fresh coconuts, sitting right there.   Hank and I immediately began to debate the merits of buying one (if you can’t get it open, what’s the point VS holy cow Stephie it’s a coconut I don’t care if we can’t open it) and eventually the guy who owned the stand took the coconut out of Hank’s hands, tapped it, taught him a new spanish word ("dura") and mimed drinking from the coconut.  Hank’s face lit right up, and right there, the guy got a machete (machetes are very exciting all by themselves) and whacked away at the coconut, then stuck a straw into it, and handed it to a very thrilled Hank.

I paid for the fruit and vegetables (I think that when they tell me the price, I’m supposed to be negotiating. Haggling isn’t really a Canadian thing, and it doesn’t come naturally to us as a people.  Every time someone here tells how much it is,  I just give them the full amount, and then they all sort of smile at me like I’m a happy accident that’s wandered into their day. Must work on this.) and we walked back the rest of the way along the road back to the house, where we showed off our spoils,

and were welcomed home like the conquering heroes that we felt like. 

We found out what was beyond the point,  We counted kite boarders, we found food, we saw chickens, and we got a fresh coconut.  It could not possibly have been more exciting.  Not in any way. 

PS.  Today’s Spanish words: Dura = Hard (that one made sense, once we thought of "durable")  Pina = Pineapple (also made sense, once we thought of Pina Coladas.) Pollo = chicken, Cuanto = how much )

PPS. That was the best pineapple I’ve ever had.

208 thoughts on “An Adventure

  1. I think the pale green thing is some kind of squash. They sell them in my local market. I have to swing by on my way home tonight so I’ll see if I can find out the name.
    Have fun!

  2. All of that food looks infinitely better than everything in my refrigerator. Have fun with it! 😀

  3. The green thing is a chayote. Grows very easily on a vine and is, in fact, a member of the squash and cucumber family!
    Looks like fun!

  4. The green veggie is a chayote and are really good if you saute the flesh with onions, tomatoes and garlic. Yum. Looks like a good time will be had by all. by the way, where’s the blanket?

  5. It’s a choko. That’s what we call them in Australia. In the US they’re called chayote squash. You can bake it, or slice and sauté it.

  6. If you ever get to Australia, and want more of the green thing, we call it Choko. In some States it’s a noxious weed, in other States we eat it.
    Some of the best fruit I’ve had outside of Australia was in Mexico, the Southern climes definitely do excellent fruit.

  7. Here where I live, you can get the coconut drink, either still in a coconut or in a glass, pretty much anywhere.

  8. We call them chayote squash here in TX also, but I believe they are also called “mirlitons” by the French. IF you have a microwave you can steam them (in halves) with salt and pepper, yum. Otherwise bake like a potato (poke holes in first!) and eat likewise…

  9. Yes, the chayote is called mirliton (and pronounced “mellytawn” in southern Louisiana, where they are boiled, scooped out and sauteed with “Holy Trinity” (onions, bell pepper, celery, and Garlic… okay, Holy Quartet), and in many cases, seasoning meat, then restuffed with the melange mixed with Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, topped with parmesan cheese, and baked…
    And now I am hungry…

  10. “”We don’t know” Hank posited, “what is lurking off the road.””
    I’m very impressed with Hank’s reasoning! Have more adventures.

  11. I thought coconuts had a brown shell. Your’s is green. I’ve obviously never visited a tropical location! Hank looks like one content young man.

  12. This is such a sweet story. Sounds like a great time. I also hate haggling. If haggling stresses you out, don’t feel bad about not doing it. No point in being stressed out on vacation.

  13. Que guapo es Hank! Tan listo tambien! That’s your spanish lesson for the day (don’t worry-both are complements). So glad you defeated your inner Guilt monster and went on this trip!

  14. When I lived in Costa Rica in the late 70’s and imported apples were scarce and expensive, some of my expat friends had tried to make apple pie with chayote – using lots of sugar and cinnamon. The results weren’t very satisfying.

  15. In Grenada – the Caribbean country, not the Spanish city – chayottes are called christophines, so that’s another possibility as to how those yummy little squashes might be called in Dominican Republic. Most of the time, my grenadian host mother sautéed them, but we also ate them raw; I really liked them raw.
    That was a really cool adventure! I hope the rest of your stay will be filled with more of those. Enjoy!

  16. Okay, I know I was one of the ones saying, “Don’t blog, you’re on vacation.” But I’m glad you are. Love love love the adventure with Hank. What a perfect adventure companion.
    How I miss my own adventure companions, who are now away at college.

  17. Excellent post. Nothing quite like adventure with a bright young boy – somehow they come to that naturally and bring fun along.

  18. Hank is the most adorable little boy ever! Somehow he makes me think of PK in “The Power of One”

  19. So glad you are all having fun. Love the pics and the posts. At the market place they may even have Sugar Cane for Hank to check out. It kind of resembles bamboo. You/guy with the machete removes the outside husk and you can chew down on it. Instant sugar treat. This is where they get sugar from. Also if the cocunut milk was sweet then you can have the guy with the machete crack open the coconut and try eating the meat within. You will need a hard steedy spoon to scoop.

  20. Wow, I’d forgotten how great life is with an 11 year old boy and how everything takes on such an awesome flavor with one around. Thanks Hank and thanks, Stephanie for sharing your adventure. The weird green thing is a squash and it’s awesome baked with other root veggies and a little olive oil, though I’m jealous I can’t taste the coconut.

  21. I don’t know whether anyone else mentioned it, but when you finish drinking the coconut milk (next to the man with the machete) he can open it up for you so you can eat the delicious soft fresh coconut inside. It’s the beginning of the dried stuff we get in packages at home. Try it next time. Don’t miss out. I love it. When I was in Vallarta this winter the guy down the street would do it for me, putting the coconut in a plastic bag to take away – because it’s really too much to eat all at once. Enjoy the holiday.

  22. Being an Auntie is bliss. I hope Hank gets to fly a kite!
    Also, Pineapples in Canada are what apples are in the Caribbean – not best! 🙂

  23. I have just one question: why didn’t you get a coconut too??? When I was in the Peace Corps we drank them all the time (this is why we all owned machetes) because they were delicious, nutritious, and safe to drink, unlike the local water. Try one before you leave the island!

  24. Another vote here for the green thingies on the right that aren’t a lime to be a feijoa! Please update if you eat one – I only got one once, in New Zealand, and suspect it was not ripe, as I was not a fan. Amateur tip: I cut it in half and used a spoon to scoop out the insides.

  25. I spent my summer living in Ghana, and have discovered that the North American version of pineapples suck. The summer of eating the most flavorful, juicy pineapples ever has ruined me for eating them at home. Be warned!!

  26. I second the eat-coconut motion! We got one last year in Hawaii, and it took my boy the better part of an evening to extract it all. Good man job. Work= food= interesting for hours. The result was not very sweet, but it was good.

  27. Don’t make me trot out my thirty year old school Spanish. I suspect if my next meal depended on it I could make it all come flooding back to me.

  28. I am surprised not to read more recommendations for using chayotes in a tangy slaw-like salad. A great way to add cool and crisp to the texture of a meal. When you return home a salad like that, if bright enough, might take your mind off how your palate no longer accepts truck-ripened bananas.

  29. I’m also one who told you not to blog but hey, who am I? Just keep eating the local fruit. See if you can get papaya and mangos too.

  30. You go looking for food with a grownup (like my husband, for example), it’s all about what you eventually find.
    You go looking for food with an 11 year old, it’s all about the adventure, and the food is sort of a byproduct.
    Cheers! Will tell dd to look for pineapples and coconuts when she heads down there next month!

  31. I also recommend eating the chayote squash raw. It makes wonderful slaw!! Thanks for keeping us posted. Your blog is my favorite!!

  32. I wish I could help you from the distance. But the most important word you can learn in spanish is cerveza. I guess you know that already. 🙂
    Salud!

  33. I am really enjoying your adventures in the Dominican Republic. Makes me see my culture in a whole new light (I am Puerto Rican and PR and the DR are like really close first cousins culture-wise).
    I wish all tourists were like you and your family.

  34. What a delightful post! Loved enjoying your adventure! Think you may have to thank Joe for agreeing with your Mum. Just sayin’

  35. I am very impressed with Hank’s vocabulary and sense of adventure. You never know what might be lurking by the side of the road . . .

  36. Congratulations on a very successful adventure. For next time: “Podri’a abrirlo, por favor?” = “Can you open it, please?” (Pretend the accent is on top of the “i”, rather than after.) Also, you want to try to type a tilde (~) over your “n” when discussing pineapples in Spanish. Without the squiggly line, you’re discussing something quite different. Make sure you pronounce it “pinya” (the tilde adds the “y” sound)!

  37. Love chayote! Like all veggies, the chinese like to peel them, slice ’em up and stir fry. Yum!

  38. In Brasil, where I grew up, we call the green vegetable xuxu (pronounced shoe shoe). My grandmother had a big vine and one of my jobs as a child was to pick xuxu for lunch whenever my grandma wanted some. I remember the vine was always full of ladybugs. I used to sit under the vine, like a canopy of green and look at the colorful points moving around. I miss it.
    I’m glad you’re having a great time!
    Hank is adorable! 🙂
    Rosane.

  39. Hank has a great future as a tour operator! He is right on so many counts. Chickens, by the way, are seen at the sides of roads in many countries, especially those with ecumenical zoning laws. I believe that this is because it is the most convenient place from which to engage in one of the most time honored chickenly activities, to wit, road crossing. Chickens who are virtuosos in this activity frequently lead their chicks in road crossing apprenticeships. Kind operators of motor vehicles and such know to keep an eye out, and wait patiently. Impatience is frowned on by the poultry community, regardless of the sentiments of general traffic. Occasionally, ducks will engage in this occupation, as well, as has been so ably documented in the magnum opus, Make Way For Ducklings!

  40. I am so envious… on my own trip recently, there wasn’t an 11 year old boy in sight. Although come to think of it, there was a little 6 year old girl on a boat with me who giggled a bit when I came half out of my seat during a big wave. That was adorable… she was quite a pro on a boat herself 🙂
    I’m inspired to bring a boy with me next time, but he’s only 6 right now 🙂

  41. The pale green vegetable is chiote. It is a type of squash that grows on a climbing vine and grows year round in tropical climates. It has another name that begins with an m…, can not remember what, but under that name it is widely used in new orleans cuisine.
    You can use chiote in stir fry, slice it fine and bake it in a cassarole.
    it is one of my favorite vegetables, I grew it in my garden. my kids love it.

  42. Maybe the chickens were eating spiders? Do chickens eat spiders? I know they eat some bugs…

  43. The chickens are there to eat the spiders!! lol! All of that fresh tropical food looks delicious. I’m feeling very jealous here in MN.

  44. The weather looks beautiful and Oh that water—we were there recently and loved it—aren’t you sooo glad you went? You deserve a vacation you knit
    hard!!!!

  45. If those bananas are really small (when fully grown), they may be the ones at this link: http://healthmad.com/nutrition/six-most-popular-types-of-bananas/
    If they are manzano’s, you’ll need to let them ripen until they’re almost black on the outside or they will have a mealy, bland taste. It’s quite alarming to do this, but worth the wait.
    We pick these up at our local supermarcado (lots of Mexican-American culture in Texas) and, once we learned to be patient with the ripening, we’ve found them to be even better than the Cavendish we all grew up eating.

  46. getting a freshly hacked giant coconut to drink from that way is called “coco frio” in Puerto Rico and is absolutely the most refreshing thing ever.
    Did you get plantains, perhaps? they’re a highly starchy potato-substitute that’s pretty common in the Caribbean.

  47. You don’t haggle with food vendors. At least I have never seen my family ever haggle with food vendors whenever I have accompanied them to the mercado. They are local so I just follow their example.
    You can haggle with other merchants. Except if I am paying an insanely low amount for something. I feel guilty and just give them whatever they are asking. Enjoy your coconuts! I see more in your future.

  48. You don’t haggle with food vendors. At least I have never seen my family ever haggle with food vendors whenever I have accompanied them to the mercado. They are local so I just follow their example.
    You can haggle with other merchants. Except if I am paying an insanely low amount for something. I feel guilty and just give them whatever they are asking. Enjoy your coconuts! I see more in your future.

  49. Chokos are horrid – correction, coming from a WASPish background my family didn’t know how to jazz them up. The trinity – as above – sounds good, or spices sound good. They are good as a ‘filler’ in casseroles and the like, just don’t get overwhelmed with the good idea, you need other stuff to go with them too. Happy adventuring.
    Psst Hank! I have never seen ’56’ kitesurfers at once, that sounds awesome.
    The holiday sounds great.

  50. STOP WRITING BLOGS!!!! You are on vacation!!! Break your daily routine and ignore your job for a while. Bring back lots of pictures, and give us retro blogs after you return (from Madrona). The good thing about a vacation is that you totally change your daily routine AND RELAX. Writing blogs and knitting is not relaxation for you, it is your job (although one that your totally LOVE). If you do break away from your daily grind, you will come back totally refreshed and ready to jump back into the world of knitting and blogging with a vengance.
    P.S. Have a great VACATION!!!

  51. I still remember the fresh pineapple we had in Mexico. It tastes nothing like what we get in the stores here. Picked at dawn, eaten for breakfast that same day. Mmmmmmmm.

  52. Here’s something funny… I only began reading your blog a month or two ago and have since gone back and started at the beginning. I’m at May 2005 or so (whichever month had Amanda’s sweet sixteen post). I try to read a month or two of your old blog posts every week. At the same time, I keep up with your current posts. It’s very weird to see Hank today at 11 years old when just last week, he was only four! I have my own 12 year old daughter so sometimes it really does feel like just yesterday that she was a youngster, but reading both ends of your blog at the same time is a real time warp!

  53. Cuanto cuesta? = How much (for one item. For multiple, it’s “Cuanto cuestan?”)
    A haggling word Demasiado=Too expensive.

  54. Great photos, Stephanie and well done with the shopping. In Barbados we loved the way the vendors would hack the skin off a pineapple with a machete and sell you big slices of it. Fantastic and no – I can’t haggle either!

  55. avocado = aguacate
    carrot = zanahoria (the ‘h’ is silent)
    strawberries = fresas
    I highly recommend you try jicama (pron: HEE ca ma). It looks kinda like a turnip. (google a photo) You peel it and slice it into large French-fry shaped pieces. It is a juicy and refreshing root vegetable that tastes like daikon radish without any ‘bite’.

  56. Thank you so much for that wonderful story! Hank sounds like an amazing young man, and I bet he is very happy is Aunt Stephanie decided to go on vacation with him.

  57. Cabarete is internationally famous for its windsurfing and kite surfing. It is still a little early in the year but you and Hank might just get lucky and see whales too.

  58. Dear Steph, the green thing is called chu chu and can be eaten boiled, mashed or baked. Some people peel them – but only if they get a prickly or hairy bunch. They are really very good with butter and cheese. I live in Rio de Janeiro and we eat these fairly often. At the moment, however, we, (my family and I), are vacationing in Baltimore, Maryland. I totally miss the wool fair every year. I am not happy about this – at all. I really enjoy your Blog and read it faithfully. I love wool but don’t get to use it often – at least for things my family will wear, (see where I live). We’ve been in Brazil for a little over 13 years. I miss the States. I miss really good yarn shops. HOWEVER: Every now and then I get to go to Peru and there I REVEL in the Alpaca!! Almost bath in it I do! Have fun on vacation!
    Donya Kesler

  59. chayote…it’s a squash, but you can also use it like a potato.
    Watch out for the cocas…if you drink a lot of the juice, but don’t eat the meat, you’ll have some…unpleasant…trips to the bathroom. The meat and the juice counteract one another.

  60. Sounds to me,Steph, that you’re pretty good at this vacation thing, contrary to your expectations. Keep practicing!

  61. Dominican is one place down there I haven’t been..but..in some Spanish speaking countries, a “bano” is actually the room where the bathtub is..a “servicio” is the room with the toilet..so, if you ever use “bano” and get a funny look, try the other term…
    disfrute!

  62. When I was 8, and living in Key West, I once spent a productive afternoon breaking into a fresh coconut (green husk and all) with a spoon. It was not easy, but it was entertaining.
    I just now (a mom myself these days) wondered whether the spoon survived. Somehow it didn’t seem relevant to my 8-year-old self.
    Glad to hear you and Hank are off having wonderful adventures!

  63. Reading this post made me happy. And now I’m dreaming about vacations with my own family. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  64. Excellent adventure! Reminds me of the fun I had when my 3 boys were that age. Gotta say you had me going for a moment when I read “kite surfers came out in THONGS. and Hank stopped to count them”. Oops! Throng, not thong – my bad!

  65. What??? No “why did the chicken cross the road” jokes?
    I was waiting for that one too! Local produce!!! MMmmmmmm!

  66. Single most useful Spanish word for polite eaters — “Sabrosa” (sa-BRO-sa) Means “delicious” and is a nice compliment. As has been previously noted, Spanish-speakers generally appreciate it when you make the effort, as opposed to some nationalities we will not name.

  67. I had a simliar experience about a year ago – a school trip to chile with no knowledge of spanish! Cuanto cuesta – how much, cuanto alone is just kinda “how”
    Brush up on your numbers, esp. the thousands if $ there is like pesos, $20 USD = 10.000 pesos. I once was told a necklace was $7.000, and asked to pay 60.000, and was laughed at! But generally, it might just be easier to just pay the amount. And eat all the fruit, I see a lot of fruit in the US grocery stores now that is from the Dominican Republic. Have fun!

  68. Choko are also good in stir fry, stew or fruit pies to bulk it up. They’re very bland by themselves, but absorb flavour really well.

  69. Oh fresh Caribbean coconut…truthfully, while Husband and I liked the coconut milk, we weren’t really fond of the fresh coconut (it resembled snot too much for our taste). Little Man seemed to like it but, then again, he seems to like anything that’s food-related.

  70. The name of the squash escapes me right now, but it is one of my favorite squashes to eat.
    I cut it in half, boil it until it is soften (it has a large almond shaped seed in it). Then I scoop out the flesh of the squash, mix it with eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan and spices, put back in the squash and bake. Yummy 🙂

  71. The thing that looks like a lime is probably a citron….
    Sounds like a fine adventure!! Can’t wait to hear more!!

  72. I am so happy Hank got to drink the coconut milk. I hope he has happy memories the rest of his life. You rock as an auntie!
    We have been watching all of Breaking Bad and Weeds that we can on Netflix, so pretty much my Spanish is only useful if I want to sell drugs or hire a hitman. I hope yours works better than mine.

  73. Fresh coconut water is really the best thing about the tropics. It makes up for the fact that fresh water nearby is usually hot.

  74. My favorite food in the DR was the bananas. They’re what bananas should taste like in real life.

  75. This post comes to you courtesy of my Peace Corps stint in Thailand. The liquid inside a coconut is actually more like water – the tastiest water ever! We drank it when the local sources of actual water were possibly unsafe. In that heat, you will find it THE most refreshing thing to drink. We drank buckets of it and never got the trots. Hope you will enjoy lots of it too. And yeah, that green squash is a mirliton and in the American South we mostly stuff and bake it. It can be a little watery on its own. Oh, eat local mangos for me, please! And Steph, shop the local farmers market. Ask around for which day it is. Or sometimes they have a night market. Anyway, they make wonderful products out of the local produce, like oils, creams, soaps, shampoos. Wouldn’t some of those make good souvenirs and presents? Coconut oil is FABULOUS for hair and skin. I use it as a deep treatment on my unruly curly hair. A few drops of the oil worked into the scalp and spread through the hair with fingers, pop on a (satin) sleep cap, and wake up with smooth, wonderful-smelling, behaving hair. Keep having fun!

  76. Stephanie: Just enjoy it all and savour the new experiences. Lucky you to have Hank with you to share the excitement and the pleasures. I well remember the beach walks!
    Cheers and red wine, Hazel.
    P.S. I was never a pina colada fan, but don’t get me started on rum punch!

  77. Feliz viaje! (That means happy journey.) It sounds like a great trip. I had the same issues when first trying to shop in Spanish-speaking countries, so I put together English-Spanish shopping lists; you might find them helpful. I uploaded them as a PDF: They’re on Google docs at https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B8YfwSZyhMr6ZmRlY2ZiZjgtYmM2MS00OTkwLWFhMDYtOWI5NmM0N2RiMzY3&hl=en_US. It’s one document divided by categories: food, clothing, pharmacy, household goods, hardware. (Don’t laugh; I once had to ask for molly bolts, without having a clue what they were called. After an unforgettable session of Pictionary/charades, they brought the exact right thing. I still have the sketches.)

  78. Ask for star fruit. It’s star shaped when sliced in half. And breadfruit, which is tasteless but nutritious and good mixed in a salad with other tasty stuff.
    Be careful of eating too much fresh coconut as it can cause diarrhea!

  79. See, you needed this thrilling adventure! What a nice change from Canadian winter. (I suspect the chickens like to eat all the spiders in the bushes on the side of the road…)

  80. Such the adventures..and in a country with a language you don’t normally speak…all good stories to tell later… 🙂

  81. The green veggie is chayote. It’s a squash.
    In Seychellois creole, it’s called a susutte (or something to that effect), which is a reference to the underside of the veggie and its resemblance to a part of the female anatomy.
    If those avocados are the kind I’m thinking, they’re tastier in smoothies than as guacamole.

  82. The only thing that kept running through my mind was the idea that maybe the chickens like it there because of all the spiders? or were the cluckers in a different area along the road?
    In any event, sounds like an adventure I need to have. Keep it up.

  83. Here in Portugal that green veg is a chu chu (shoe shoe) At it’s very simplest it can be boiled , get a little salt and pepper and some olive oil. I builds from there.
    On the one hand I’m with those people who say “Take a break.” On the other hand, I still check for you daily, hoping you’ve blogged. On the other other hand, there seems to be some value here for you too. Vocabulary and cooking lessons and suggestions for things to look for. I’m sure someone will offer you some sightseeing suggestions too. Enjoy!!!

  84. Huzzah for tropical produce! Since you have internet, you could probably have a lot of fun doing ingredient searches in Epicurious. Let us know how the chayote works out!

  85. Oh my goodness. I’ve always liked your Hank a very great deal. He seems like an upright, amiable lad, from what one gathers from a blog, and certainly outstanding company for adventures. The produce looks lovely, and the picture of him with the straw in the coconut made me smile and smile and smile. Well done all around 🙂

  86. The pale green thing all the way to the left is a “tayota”, they are pretty damn good and you can cook it many different ways and eat it either hot or cold in salads after cooking it

  87. As a brazilian who loves colder climates, I dream to move to a northern (ou southern – Patagonia!) climate, but when I think of giving up all the fruits we have here…

  88. YUM!
    BTW, Hank is even cuter on vacation than he is Christmas shopping. It’s great you have a smart and thoughtful adventurer with you.
    Also, I think there is something about being pale and pasty that keeps one from haggling. My mother is dark olive, and she can haggle, but not me! I used to think it was just having ancestors from cold climates, but that lets my mother out for sure.

  89. As a mother of three sons, Hank reminds me how much I love boys around his age. What great memories you’re making!
    I hope you all continue to enjoy your warm holiday.

  90. That pale green thing looks like what we Kiwis call a ‘choko’ Kind of like a marrow, but more delicate.
    I SO envy you the drinking coconut ‘moimoto’ where I grew up.

  91. While I’m loving seeing all the beach photos, and the chickens (I wouldn’t touch them either, because they might actually belong to someone, and you wouldn’t want anyone thinking you’re taking their chicken!), please just enjoy your vacation and forget about the blogosphere. We’ll still be here once you get back.
    Enjoy the view, walk the beach, have fun drinking from coconuts, and catch up with us LATER. 🙂

  92. When I read “and the kite surfers come out in throngs” my mind read “thongs” and I thought, “Wow! They really did have an adventure!”

  93. Glad you’re having a great time! Just wanted to let you know, if it matters to you, that the word dura actually meants ‘lasts’ (dura para siempre-it will last forever) the word for hard is duro. Also, pollo refers to chicken for consumption. If it’s running around the yard it’s a gallina.
    Not trying to be nit-picky or critical, honestly. Just helpful. You’ve helped me so many times via your writing, this may be the only way i could ever help you.
    Gene Reyes

  94. You and Hank just confirm my belief that some of the most memorable adventures are found in shops and visiting with the locals and don’t require speeding boats or zip lines or 24 hours all you can eat buffets.

  95. Ahhhhh! Your pictures and descriptions of warm sunny days are just what this cold New England girl needed!
    Please keep sending more news about your adventures, they sound wonderful. I hope Hank comes back with a ton to write about in school!

  96. “We don’t know” Hank posited, “what is lurking off the road.”
    Hank is one wise li’l dude.

  97. I officially adore Hank for his determination to get the coconut. I can just imagine how his eyes must have lit up once the machete was produced. Hope he liked the sweet water inside!

  98. All this talk of choyote and mirleton makes me think of the chorus to the fabulous Chris Smither’s song No Love Today:
    “I got ba-na-na watermelon, peaches by the pound,
    Sweetcorn, mirleton, mo-beter than in town,
    I got okra, enough to choke ya,
    Beans of every kind,
    If hungry is what’s eatin’ you
    I’ll sell you peace of mind
    But this ain’t what you came to hear me say
    And I hate to disappoint you
    But I got no love today
    I got no love today
    I got no love today
    No love today”

  99. There was something about the voice of this post that was pure A.A. Milne. Maybe it’s just that Hank is a modern day (and slightly older) Christopher Robin.
    Thanks for bringing us along on your adventure.

  100. If the little lime thingys are on a stalk, a bunch of them tied together, they are limoncello. you crack the shell with your teeth and squirt out the innards into your mouth. It’s a big seed in the center, and you suck the flesh off it. Sometimes you get a double seed, and it means you’ll give birth to twins.
    If you get a chance, try to find a fresh cacao. They look a bit like a nerf football. Like the limoncello, you suck the flesh from around the chocolate beans, and it tastes like chocolate, peach, pear and all good things, and then you have a bunch of raw chocolate seeds to experiment with.

  101. Chayote, as everyone above noted. Salute in butter with onion, salt & pepper. Mmm. Or jazz up with whatever you have at hand. Sounds like a fabulous vacay.

  102. Chayote, as everyone above noted. Salute in butter with onion, salt & pepper. Mmm. Or jazz up with whatever you have at hand. Sounds like a fabulous vacay.

  103. ¿Cuál (like “quality”) es ese (ess-ay) nombre (nom-bre)?, while maybe not being totally gramatically correct, should get you the name of something.
    It sounds like you’re having quite a time! It looks really beautiful.

  104. See what other fresh fruits you can find. Anything that is vine/tree/bush ripened has the most fabulous flavor. Best banana I ever ate was a tree-ripened one in the Caribbean. In my mind I can still recall the smell and the taste and the texture.
    Enjoy the rest of your lovely vacation!

  105. I have next to no desire to travel to warmer climates. I live in south western Ontario, and it’s plenty warm for me here. But, drinking a fresh coconut like that is on my list of things to do before I die.
    If only I could find a way to drink from a fresh coconut while in Iceland… I think I could die happy, then.

  106. ok, the weirdest thing, is all through this story, despite the fact that I’ve seen pictures of Hank before and didn’t think he looked that much like “the Love Actually kid” before, I was somehow imagining that kid (who is now like 21 which is scarier than Hank being 11, but I digress) so I was imagining Hank being played by that kid all through your story, and then I hit the picture at the end, and he really does kind of resemble him a bit in that picture!!! too weird!

  107. I see you have many comments on the food, well I have had chickens for 12 years and I will comment on them. They love greens, berries, seeds and…..INSECTS!! So that mother chicken was probably being a very good mother teaching her little chickens about spiders and the spoils of good eating. Sounds perfectly right in the wild kingdom there on the island. Enjoy

  108. Hank is so cute! When I was reading about your previous exploits re: bad apples, I thought, why not eat every meal out? lol I bet the street food is amazing. Ever watch the awesome stuff Anthony Bourdain gets to eat on the Travel Channel’s show No Reservations?!

  109. Aren’t you glad you came? Adventures and being cool Aunt Step don’t happen every day…………..

  110. At the beginning, I was going to say something about he sells sea shells by the seashore, but wow and wow and wow well beyond all that. So. COOL! (Go Hank!) And the very best pineapple I ever ate in my life was one my dad bought at a roadside stand in Hawaii on a business trip (lucky him!) picked that day and he brought it home the next. I had no idea pineapple could taste that perfect.

  111. Hank sounds very wise beyond his years, yet with all the exuberance of youth. The perfect combination to go adventuring with — until you realize he’s trying to talk Aunt Steph into going kitesailing or paragliding with him!
    Los pollos by the side of the road can be seen in some of the country byways in North America. The roadsides make it easy for them to find bugs to eat, and often have small bits of gravel. They swallow the gravel, which ends up in their gizzards. The gizzard uses the gravel to help break up the chicken’s food, much like we use our teeth to chew and break up our food. Learned this when my dad and stepmom retired from the big city to a small farm waaaay down a dirt road.
    (PS to Hank: It can be really neat to watch chickens, learning what they do and trying to figure out why they do it. And they can be very amusing! Just don’t try messing with the roosters or a mama hen with chicks as they can hurt you with beaks and claws. However, you can feed them with bits of bread, salad veggies, or popped popcorn.)

  112. That settles it. You need to be a travel writer. Brilliant. I especially loved,
    “I know you can do that Hank, or rather, I know it can be done – but how do you do it? I don’t know if we should buy a coconut. I think they’re hard to open.”
    “We could google it.”
    “True.”
    more more more!!! I’m landlocked in Minnesota. Send more brilliant writing.

  113. I am sooo glad you are having this time in the sun, with the gorgeous (he’s gonna be a real heartbreaker!) Hank, your mum and sis.
    Not only do I think you more than deserve the relaxation and adventure, but it’s also wonderful to read your posts and see the pictures. What a grand slice of sun and paradise to brighten our wintry days.
    Thanks!

  114. As other commenters have said, the pale green thing is called a choko in Australia. The thing is you can almost never buy them as they are believed to be tasteless and have been tainted by association because the primary reason they were grown was to cover up the outside dunny (toilet) in old houses. Actually, they’re pretty good if you saute them in garlic and butter and serve with lemon juice and black pepper. Mind you, so would be cardboard.

  115. That Hank is the sweetest boy!! I’d vacation with him anywhere, any time…. lol. Looks like a wonderful place. Have a great time and get a little color in your skin…. We leave Maui tomorrow with mixed emotions. Had a wonderful time but miss the grandsons. We’ll be back next year….

  116. I was reminded of my holiday at Madeira. Wild vegetation and unknown vegetables. You must be having a great holiday and you damn deserve it.
    And now I’m afraid I need to stop dreaming about warm weather and lush vegetation, I’m here in a gloomy winter. Blech.
    Hey, did you already find a yarn store?

  117. I don’t want to be a bummer, but be careful with the water.. Not something we are used to, and you can be really sick with it… Iced tea would be probably done with local water (unfiltered) by our standards, and you could get really sick. Just saying.

  118. Totally fabulous! Nothing like an adventure like this. You had the best company to have it with.

  119. One of my favorite things about the blog – besides the knitting content – is hearing about Hank’s exploits. I have young boys in my life too, and I just love the way they think. So different from the adult girls that I’ve raised. I’m hoping they don’t turn surly when they get 14 or so. I’ll be watching Hank.

  120. Glad you are enjoying your vacation. Glad you and Hank found all that nice food. Must mention, however, that your Hank is the most gorgeous, delightful young man around!! Enjoy!!!!

  121. Oh, how this tugged on my heart, now that my boy is 17 and has all his adventures with friends (or “with friends,” since many of these adventures occur online).
    I remember one blissful day when we found a string in the road near our house and followed it — for more than a mile! — to the neighboring town and made up many stories about what might be at the end and how it came to unspool all that way.

  122. I am so jealous!! That sounds like a wonderful day! I’m stuck inside with my 3 year old, 2 year old, and 1 week old!! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures!

  123. Looks like you are having an awesome time, well done to your family for bullying you into going! I’d love to be on a sunshine and coconut-filled adventure rather than in chilly dreary england 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your time there!

  124. Sounds like my trip to Brazil. 😀 The chayote squash are pretty tasty. Also, lots of places in Brazil that would open the coconut so you could drink from it, will open it up all the way when you were done so you can scoop out the meat.

  125. the name by which -I- best know that vegetable (though i know chayote and mirliton as well) is one not mentioned! alligator pear! i also recommend having it raw as a slaw (cut in matchsticks along with a matchsticked carrot, add a little vinegar and maybe a little sugar and a little chile powder. let sit. eat.)
    if you have a grater handy you can grate it too.

  126. Hank rules.
    I love when Hank and his wisdom is on the blog. Drinking out of a coconut looks awesome.

  127. Engllish people don’t negotiate we’ll either – I know I’m supposed to, but I’m always worried I’ll offer too much or too little and be laughed at!
    A very fine adventure!

  128. I misread “the kite surfers come out in throngs”, as “the kite surfers come out in THONGS”. Sounded uncomfortable.

  129. chayote is also called christophene in the Caribbean. mild squash flavour that’s better with spice, like nutmeg. a local trailing perennial vine found in da ilans. enjoy!

  130. The green vegetable – in New Orleans it’s called a mirliton, and it’s a member of the squash family; very bland unless you spice it up, add cheese etc.

  131. Sounds like everyone else has already identified the chayote for you–my mom used to grow a vine in the back yard in Hawaii.
    At least in the US postal system, you can actually mail a coconut like a post card (but, you know, a BIT more postage due to weight). Might make for a fun thing to mail home 🙂 In Hawaii, we even have some folks who sell painted ones specifically for mailing home.

  132. Can I just say I wish I’d had an auntie like you when I was eleven! Sounds like a fabulous adventure. Love the chickens and love the photo of Hank plus coconut.
    And I can’t negotiate either…

  133. You and Hank would make great pioneers. You went exploring, found food and came home victorious. What an Execellent Adventure!

  134. Sounds like a great adventure. The kite boarders, the shells, the chickens, the marketplace. I totally agree that adventures are more adventurous with boys in tow. They are such amazing people – so different from girls. To them, life is a great adventure waiting to be discovered.
    Glad you have Hank with you to bring out the adventurer in you. It sounds like it’s doing you all a lot of good.

  135. You are really making me miss home.
    In DR we call chayotes, tayotas (the y sounds like a j).
    Keep having fun. 🙂

  136. I read that post while at a freezing cold Newcastle upon Tyne train station waiting to go home to Durham and you’ve cheered me up no end. I have a 4 year old blonde son who I hope very much grows up liking adventures as much as Hank.

  137. I am glad you went on vacation. It sounds like you needed an adventure….and I can live vicariously through you for the moment.

  138. I think we all should go through life with a child at our side – helps to keep the eyes wide open

  139. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. It sounded like so much fun. Did he like the coconut?

  140. You are going to get spoiled with all that fresh Dominican fruit and nothing you buy in Canada will ever taste the same. It will be like cardboard now. lol

  141. Great vacation adventure. Those little baby finger sized bananas are really yummy. Many years ago (around 40), I lived in a neighborhood that was largely Mexican with a few Puerto Ricans. The local Supermercado (which was it at all Suprr by US standards – more like a mom & pop small grocery) carried those little bananas along with papayas (possibly my favorite fruit) & mangos – very exitic foods by Midwestern standards. The baby bananas are a bit sweeter & less mushy than the big ones with a hint of pineapple flavor. Whole Foods has them occasionally. I buy them whenever I see them.

  142. “PS. Today’s Spanish words: Dura = Hard (that one made sense, once we thought of “durable”)”
    Well, as a Canadian, wouldn’t it also make sense once you thought of the French word for hard, which is “dur.” 😉

  143. The light green vegetable, if no one has mentioned it, is known as Chuchu here in Brazil, though it’s Spanish name could be different. It is very nice in stews, or sautéed. And yes, fresh, “I am really in the tropics” pineapple kicks the butt of all previous pineapple.

  144. That light green vegetable is known in Australia as a “Choko”. I’ve also heard them called a “Chow-Chow” and (more rarely) “prickly pear”. My mum used to halve/quarter them and put them in along side the potatoes when she cooked a roast dinner. I haven’t cooked one since I left Oz, nearly 23 years ago. Can’t find them here (UK).
    Glad you’re having a lovely time.
    – Pam

  145. LOVE Hank’s hair. May have to take that pic of him with the coconut with me next time my nine year old goes to get shorn!

  146. Thank you (from Chicago) for the lovely scenes and the sense of adventure you just pumped into my day.

  147. I’m sure you know this by now, but the green thing is tayota. It is delicious boiled and then sliced thin with vinager and salt with hard boiled eggs. A typical Domincan salad.
    As a Dominican, I am so, so happy to have the Yarn Harlot visiting my homeland. 🙂
    Drink a “Presidente” (local beer) for me!

  148. i loved the zippy photos ! how did you have the presence of mind to take them at all ?

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