The most rewarding wonders of nature are those that are continuously overwhelming us with so much enchantment. Regardless of the adversities, we might be facing, just by letting Mother Nature comfort us, we may find the peace that will enlighten our path.
As you can see the blessing in a joyful flock of birds flying across the horizon right when the sun is descending, a shower will paint a rainbow throughout the sky. At night, sparkling fireflies give you the illusion that little falling stars are sprinkling you with a magical dust. Regardless of how bad you think your day might be, let go of yourself, and through the playful breeze feel the tender touch of blissful butterflies blowing kisses at you.
The marvelous gifts of Mother Earth are found anywhere in the world. In Puerto Rico, even if you are not able to see him, when you hear Ko-kee, Ko-kee, the native frog that can only be found there is joyfully welcoming you to the Island of Enchantment. Just know that this tiny frog known as the coquí is a gift from Mother Nature to bring magic into your life.
Pronounced “ko-kee” the little musical tree frog became the official mascot of Puerto Rico during the primitive times when our indigenous ancestors the Taínos incorporated the symbol of the coquí in their artwork. The Taínos believed the diminutive amphibian, which they considered a magical frog, knew the language of the stars.
Belonging to the Eleutherodactylus family, the name means “free toes” because unlike many frogs, they don’t have webbed feet. Their special disks or toe pads allow them to climb vertically, clinging to trees and jumping over 3,000 feet tall, giving us the illusion that they can fly.
These miniature native frogs are 1 to 2 inches and weigh between 2 and 4 ounces. Inhabiting in forests, mountains, and urban areas, they lay their eggs on palm trees leaves or other terrestrial plants. Sometimes abandoned birds’ nests become their new home, laying the female from 16 to 40 eggs, about 4 to 6 times a year. When they hatch, only 2 of the species sing, which is the forest and the common coquí, reaching maturity at eight months.
The male is the only one that sings, producing a high pitch sound to attract females and to set his territory during the breeding season. A legend claims that it was the coquí who became the pioneer of the “Serenade” when a man wanted to let his beloved one know how much he loved her.
Of 16 species of the coquí, three are already extinct. Eleven of those only live in Puerto Rico and have become endangered. The glorious symphony we used to hear over 20 years ago is not as intense as it used to be. Besides the coquís having a low reproduction rate, their habit is destroyed each time trees are killed. As the population increases, our magical gift from nature is decreasing.
Most of these little creatures live in the rainforest. The “duende” coquí will only survive at the Dwarf Forest, El Yunque. He is the tiniest frog of all the species, measuring about 15 mm. The Taínos believed the sublime land was sacred because it was where their God Yocahú reigned; considering the “duende” coquí a beautiful amphibian.
Mistakenly transported in a cargo of plants that were carried to Hawaii, several years ago our coquís found a new home there. However, while the Puerto Ricans love to hear their serenade at night, the Hawaiians find annoying their sound. Even though USDA Wildlife Services has come up with a plan to eradicate the little frogs in Hawaii, many people, especially Puerto Ricans, are outraged by the killing of the Puerto Rican mascot.
Wishing to have a tiny coquí in their surroundings outside of the island, some people have tried to carry the little frogs deliberately out of Puerto Rico. As a result, it is now a felony to transport coquís.
Just like the Indian Taínos, some natives believe that by wearing the symbol of a coquí, it would bring them good luck. Others hope to find the peace that will take them to the dream world by listening to the lovely serenade of the coquís right before going to sleep. And those like me that are always grateful and joyful when we recognize the pleasant melody reminding us of the magic that is welcoming us in the Island of Enchantment.