This blog is written for monthly ISWG site, check it out here:
This month I have been doing some more creative writing and one of the techniques which helps to handle it better is to observe something in your environment and write a story about it.
It is first of May here in Hawaii, known as a lei day. But today I will take into focus another new friend of mine here. It is called ‘the fruit of the angels.’ I did not know much about this fruit, but living here in Hawaii has introduced me to this fruit in so many ways. I would love to share this exploration journey with all my readers.
One of the reasons why me and my husband decided to move to Hawaii was that we are very outdoorsy people and we love to spend a lot of time in the nature as well figure what and how to grow here.
My husband loves gardening. Even though we live in a little rental appartement at the moment, we have a little corner in the back yard, where my husband planted some cucumbers and other veggies. Most of these were eaten by slugs and other bugs here (a common problem), but the cucumbers survived and we managed to even pickle these.
One little green branch was sticking its head out in the little barranca behind our garden when we moved here now almost a year ago. Just in 8 months it grew so big and the flowers were blossoming and in no time the fruits started to form itself. During the recent couple of weeks we have harvested 5-7 papayas each week from that tree. How amazing is this?
I was born and raised in Estonia where we have loads of berries, fruit trees, but no papaya trees. For me papaya tree is very exotic. The way it looks, how it grows and how the fruit tastes.
It was in 2009 in November. It was my second time in Hawaii. We went out to eat in the Thai restaurant. I had never had a papaya salad. So I thought to order it for a change. Once it came to my table – I could not believe it. It was all greenish white and looked like some white hair on my plate. I called for the chef and asked if he is aware that I got served raw papaya salad. The waiter was smiling first but asked the chef to come. He explained that it is all done right. That is how it is done – raw!!! I do not even remember if I ate it all, as in my head I imagined it like an orange juicy papaya salad sweet and all.
I always smile when I see the papaya salad in the menu nowadays. Just couple of months ago I got the best papaya salad on the Hawaii island. It is served during Uncle Roberts Wednesday market. It is such a popular food that if you do not order it right away, it may get sold out very fast. It was juicy, spicy and even had some avocado slices on it.
I never knew how many health benefits this fruit has.
Website https://foodfacts.mercola.com/papaya.html enlightened me in so many ways:
“Native to southern Mexico and Central America, papaya is now cultivated in most tropical regions, including Hawaii, where it was introduced in the early 1800s. Today, Hawaii is still the only U.S. state where papaya is commercially grown.
Vitamin C is one of the strong points of papaya, providing a whopping 144% of the daily recommended value per serving, which is great as an infection fighter as well as a free radical-scavenging antioxidant. Other vitamins include 31% of the daily value in vitamin A, required for healthy skin, mucous membranes, and vision, and especially effective against macular degeneration. Papaya provides 13% of the DRV in folate, and good amounts of fiber and potassium, a cell and body fluid component that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
The B vitamins in papayas such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B1) are called “essential” because they’re required by your body, but not produced by your body, so they need an outside source to provide what is needed to metabolize – that’s why including foods like papaya in your diet is important.
Papaya is a natural remedy for many ailments, including atherosclerosis, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, and helps keep your digestive and immune systems healthy. Papaya also contains the flavonoid beta carotene, which studies have proven to help protect against lung and mouth cancers. Other flavonoids, namely lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthins, have potent antioxidant properties against free radicals that can wear down your body and cause premature aging and degenerative diseases.
Papayas contain 212 amino acids and several enzymes, including papain, a proteolytic enzyme that has an anti-inflammatory effect on the stomach, including swelling and fever that can develop post-surgery. Papain helps proteins digest faster, which discourages acid reflux, and has demonstrated effectiveness in treating ulcers and even relieving irritable bowel syndrome. Papaya seeds have been used in folk medicine to treat parasite and ringworm infections.
A fermented papaya preparation was found to have wound-healing properties in one analysis, which researchers concluded would be especially beneficial for diabetes patients.
Another study indicated anti-cancer activity in papaya seeds and pulp, due to the presence of benzyl glucosinolate compounds.”
Everything is united
Hawaiians believe that everything is united. We are not separate units from the nature or animals. While observing our friend papaya for so many months it has taught me a lot about that.
In so many ways I am like a papaya too. I produce seeds by thinking and creating ideas. I am sweet. But my seeds can be bitter too… and kick out some parasites…
While living in Hawaii I feel that I am enrolled in Aloha University and I will always be taught some new things or insights which my own culture would never had managed to do so.
I observed the whole process from the little papaya branch to the big blossoming tree till the fruits formed itself. It was a long process and you could not jump over any phases in it. I then compared my own process like being that papaya. I came here and put down my new seeds – ideas and possibilities and even though it is a tropical soil, things still take time to grow. I had to learn about patience in this process.
You can not pick the fruits before you put the seed down. You can not get the fruit before it blossoms.
Many times when I got really impatient with my own immigration paperwork process I reminded myself of the papaya and the turtles. Go slow. Optimize. Do what you can in that moment and then you will grow into a juicy fruit to be picked.
But oh how sweet is that moment when you cut the fruit off the tree and prepare yourself the best sweet treat – even couple of spoonfuls taste like heaven.
I also learned how to use papaya seeds which taste like horse raddish and now I do not only add them to my after workout protein shakes, but also I crush them and add some water and mix it with the coffee scrub where I also add some coconut oil and then scrub my whole body with it. I smell like papaya – coffee like in 5 meter radius. I use many calories to clean it all of our bath tub after the scrub. The skin becomes so soft and so juicy. It almost feels like I would like to lick myself, so yummy. Babysoft…
I feel big gratitude for the bowl of papayas coming from our own garden and that mother earth feeds us when we take care of it and are patient.
Many of my Hawaiian friends told me that they got their own papayas after only 7 or 8 months and I always thought they must be kidding. Obviously they did not. They told the truth. Now it is also my truth and not only – it is my experience.
Papayas reminded me that the fruits grow when the time is ripe and if you do not pick them, some birds will get their meal out of it. Nothing will be wasted. Paradise will take care of everyone.
Just a spoonful of papaya tastes like heaven and reminds me why I chose to live in Hawaii. Because of this – the ability to walk 2 steps and pick up your own tropical fruit and enjoy it for a meal and remember the university of patience. Forever grateful. It truly deserves it name as Christopher Columbus named it – the fruit of the angels!
Share in the comments with me your experiences with papaya and any other fruit which is not growing in your place of origin. What did you discover?
Aloha! My name is Crystal Ra and I was born and raised in Estonia, but have travelled and lived abroad for almost 15 years. It has taught me a lot about different cultures and possibilities as well about myself. I guess as my life is filled with more sweetness – it is now time for my papaya time. All the sweat, all the suffering I have gone through all these years – is definitely worth it, so I can even more enjoy the sweetness of our papayas and share some stories with the ones I care.
Never through away a papaya seed! If you do not want to give it a new life in the soil -eat it. It may kick out the parasites in you, so you would have more space for sweetness in your life too!
Aloha love to all;)
Thank you for your attention;)