Hurricane Fiona removed avocados from trees in Puerto Rico: NPR

Magaly Vázquez and Pedro Lugo, with avocados and bananas given to them by friends after Hurricane Fiona removed many of the island’s fruit trees.

Adrian Florido / NPR


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Magaly Vázquez and Pedro Lugo, with avocados and bananas given to them by friends after Hurricane Fiona removed many of the island’s fruit trees.

Adrian Florido / NPR

LAJAS, Puerto Rico – There is an old superstition in Puerto Rico that when avocado trees are particularly full of fruit, there is a hurricane coming.

This summer, the avocado trees have been full of fruit, so speculation has been flying for weeks. It was a storm on the way.

Hurricane Fiona – which hit the island last weekend – has caused catastrophic flooding and landslides in several communities, killing at least two people. Winds of 85 miles per hour blew the roofs of their homes. And made another victim. Across much of the island, Fiona blew all the avocados off her trees.

At a donation drive in San Juan, people who brought supplies to hard-hit communities were given two avocados as a token of gratitude.

Adrian Florido / NPR


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At a donation drive in San Juan, people who brought supplies to hard-hit communities were given two avocados as a token of gratitude.

Adrian Florido / NPR

Now, in the days after the storm, people were scrambling to eat them all—and most importantly—to give them up, before they rot.

“We have to take good care of them,” said Jonathan Velez-Rosado.

In the capital, San Juan, he was helping organize a donation drive to collect water, food, and hygiene items for affected communities. His volunteers were showing people who had made donations a token of gratitude: two avocados, pulled from a bag full of them.

Across Puerto Rico, avocados became a community currency this week. People opened their front doors to find bags full of them, which the neighbors had left there. Buckets filled with fruit were left along the sides of winding mountain roads that were left partially impassable by landslides.

Puerto Ricans race to eat all the avocados that Hurricane Fiona blew from the trees before they go bad.

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Puerto Ricans race to eat all the avocados that Hurricane Fiona blew from the trees before they go bad.

Adrian Florido / NPR

Puerto Ricans ate avocados for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With rice and beans, gazpacho and toasted bread.

“At work today my colleagues gave me three bags!” said Pedro Lugo, who lives in the town of Lajas, on the island’s southwest coast. I said, ‘What am I going to do with all this? I can’t eat guacamole every day! “”

He began to abandon her, including to an NPR reporter.

When Fiona caught wind, Lugo began to worry about his neighbor’s avocado tree. He entered the bathroom and watched for hours through a small window.

“I started dancing from side to side,” he said.

By the time the wind passed, one avocado had survived.

“In two weeks, an avocado will cost more than $100, because it’s the only one left,” he said with a laugh.

His neighbor, Willie Torres Martinez, felt his heart sinking when he looked and saw more than a hundred avocados scattered in his backyard. But he soon began packing them in plastic bags and delivering them to his neighbours.

“I’d love to participate,” he said. “Because when you share, it comes back to you twofold.”

Avocados became the connecting link with his neighbors in the days after the storm. He said, after a tragedy, this is the most important thing.

Ezequiel Rodriguez Andino contributed reporting.

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