Hurricane Fiona blows avocados off trees in Puerto Rico : NPR

Magaly Vázquez and Pedro Lugo with avocados and bananas given to them by friends after Hurricane Fiona knocked off much of the island’s fruit.

Adrian Florido/NPR


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Adrian Florido/NPR


Magaly Vázquez and Pedro Lugo with avocados and bananas given to them by friends after Hurricane Fiona knocked off much of the island’s fruit.

Adrian Florido/NPR

LAJAS, Puerto Rico — There is an old superstition in Puerto Rico that if the avocado trees are especially full of fruit, a hurricane is coming.

That summer, the avocado trees had burst with fruit, so speculation had been flying for weeks. There was a storm on the way.

Hurricane Fiona hit the island last weekend, causing catastrophic flooding and landslides in many communities and at least two deaths. Its 85 mph winds blew the roofs off their houses. And it claimed another victim. Across much of the island, Fiona blew all the avocados off their trees.

At a donation event in San Juan, people who brought supplies to affected communities received two avocados as a token of appreciation.

Adrian Florido/NPR


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Adrian Florido/NPR


At a donation event in San Juan, people who brought supplies to affected communities received two avocados as a token of appreciation.

Adrian Florido/NPR

Now, in the days since the storm, people have been scrambling to eat them all – and just as importantly – to give them away before they start to rot.

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

In the capital, San Juan, he helped organize a donation drive that collected water, food and toiletries for affected communities. Her volunteers offered a token thank you to those who brought donations: two avocados in a piece, pulled from a bag filled with them.

Across Puerto Rico, avocados have become community currency this week. People have opened their front doors to find bags full of them left there by their neighbors. Buckets filled with grain have been left on the sides of winding mountain roads partially impassable by landslides.

Puerto Ricans are racing to eat all the avocados blown off the trees by Hurricane Fiona before they go bad.

Adrian Florido/NPR


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Puerto Ricans are racing to eat all the avocados blown off the trees by Hurricane Fiona before they go bad.

Adrian Florido/NPR

Puerto Ricans have eaten avocado for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With rice and beans, gazpacho and toast.

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

He started giving them away, including to an NPR reporter.

As Fiona’s winds picked up, Lugo began to worry about his neighbor’s avocado tree. He went into the bathroom and watched the clock through the small window.

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

By the time the winds had passed, only one avocado remained.

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

His neighbor Willy Torres Martinez felt his heart sink when he looked out and saw more than a hundred avocados littering his backyard. But soon he started packing them in plastic bags and delivering them to his neighbors.

“I like to share,” he said. “Because when you share, it comes back to you double.”

In the days after the storm, avocados have become a link to connect with neighbors. After the tragedy, he said that was the most important thing.

Ezequiel Rodriguez Andino contributed reporting.