Avocado tree at our Bolivian home
The second year (1981) that we lived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, we rented an older stucco and adobe-brick house on a large lot. The house was built a long time before the gas boom brought a lot of new people and new construction to Santa Cruz. I suppose that area of town was the "historic district."
As is typical in Santa Cruz, the lot had a tall spiked fence along the front of it and tall masonry side walls that were topped with broken glass. The house sat at the back of the lot, and it was the fourth side of the long rectangle.
The space inside our walls was too nice to be called a yard. It was a tropical garden with fruit trees, grass, ground covers and many ornamental plants.
Enormous elephant ears (taller than my husband by a couple feet!) grew in a long strip between the driveway and one of the side walls. Various "houseplants" grew in beds along the sidewalks and patios, including a long hedge of "mother's-in-law tongue" in front of the house. "Wandering Jew" was one of the ground covers in the shade under the trees.
We had a pot-bellied toborochi tree and a mango tree and two banana trees and a funny little citrus tree that was neither lemon nor lime, but what I really want to tell about is the big avocado tree.
The avocado tree stood near the center of the garden, and during our year, it bore fruit. Its paltas (as avocados were called in Santa Cruz) were jumbo size -- as big as a large grapefruit, but pear shaped and heavy. They were bright green in color -- and there were a lot of them. I have read that some avocados (like oaks) bear heavily one year, then lighter the next year. Our tree must have had a heavy year.
We had all the avocados we could eat for weeks. We gave avocados to our friends and co-workers and to everyone who came to visit. Maria, the little Quechua woman who washed the clothes and swept the floor, and the man who cut the grass took avocados home with them every time they worked.
Dennis and I didn't fool around with making guacamole. We cut the avocados in half and ate the soft meat with a spoon right out of the skins. Sometimes we spread mashed avocado like butter on the fresh rolls that the bakery peddler sold out of the basket on the back of his bicycle.
We were rich with avocados in a way that we probably won't experience again.
I thought about our lovely Bolivian garden today when Dennis and I split a huge green avocado that I bought at the grocery store. I paid $2.56 for it, but it was worth it. Its meat was creamy, rich and very faintly sweet. It was delicious, just as I knew it would be when I saw it. We ate it out of the skin with our spoons.