Nowadays, the higüero fruit is mostly used to make decorative objects and ornaments. But, historically, it was used in all sorts of ways.
The skin is strong, durable and holds water, making it ideal for kitchenware. Folk made big serving bowls (fruit cut in half lengthways), little eating bowls (fruit cut in half widthways), sieves, ladles, spoons, cups, vases, and much more.
Higüero pods that had been hollowed out through a small hole at the top were used to carry water. How’s that for an all-natural water canteen? With a bamboo straw, you’d be set.
But that’s not all. The Taino people native to the island used the higüero gourds to make music.
They filled small hollow gourds with little pebbles or hard peas to shake: maracas. They carved grooves into the shell on one side of the fruit and a hole on the other to make a scraping board: a güiro.
The Taino may have used the higüero to make hunting masks. The idea was that birds and animals were not frightened of the dried husks, so hunters cut out eyeholes and wore them over their faces as masks.
This would work especially well in water, where the hunter could wade in and be dismissed as a floating fruit by the prey. S-M-A-R-T.
Artisanal higüero products can make for a great souvenir from your vacation to Cabarete. Keep an eye out for sellers and stores around town, there are many that sell the handmade ornaments.
If you want a real traditional Dominican experience, you could even have a go at carving your own higüero decoration! Go out there and make some memories! Just don’t cut yourself.