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HomePhotos & VideoHow a Costa Rican coconut can turn you into a 'beautiful Barbie'

How a Costa Rican coconut can turn you into a ‘beautiful Barbie’

When I chat with journalist and Tico Times columnist Alvaro Murillo, it’s usually about politics – but this photo in his Facebook feed, published here with his permission, couldn’t help but catch my eye.

“Slim down with these pipas, cleaning your floors, giving it all you’ve got and reducing your belly,” says this sign, hand-lettered by a vendor at San José’s Mercado Central and photographed in November. “Transform yourself into a beautiful Barbie.”

A careless glance might lead a shopper to think the sign refers to the benefits of coconut water, but in fact, it refers to a Costa Rican house-cleaning hack. One traditional method of polishing the floor is to chop a pipa in half and let it dry out. (Green pipas are immature coconuts that still have their outer husk attached.) The cut surface of the coconut shell can then be used, ideally with a broom handle stuck into the top of the pipa, to polish a floor to a high sheen, au natural.

Or so I hear. If you clean your floors with a pipa, I want to hear some expert tips from you.

At any rate, would-be Barbies and Kens alike should keep this merchant’s method in mind for shedding those Christmas pounds after a few too many tamales this year: just apply a little elbow grease and you’ll burn those calories right off.

Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to We’d love to see the sights with you.

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