While taking a break earlier this week, something purple caught my eye out in the brush. It turned out to be prickly pear cactus fruit. I had eaten nopalitos (young cactus pads) before, but I had never tried the fruit. The fruits themselves are purple, roughly fig shaped, and covered with clusters of small spines. It is from the fruit's shape that the prickly pear gets the scientific name Opuntia ficus-indica, or "Indian Fig".
Wearing the toughest leather gloves I had, I collected around 25 fruits into a plastic bucket. Despite my best efforts to avoid the spines, I still got stuck quite a few times. The large spines are easy to avoid, but the little ones are very hard to see. I brought them all back to the hotel, and did my best to skin them with a fork and a Swiss Army knife. A vegetable peeler would have been much better, but regardless, the darn things are so prickly that they're very difficult to handle without getting a few spines. After a few spines and lots of swearing, I finally got a few of the fruits peeled and split, and scooped out the seeds.
To me they taste something like a mildly sweet cucumber, alright, but not really tasty. Maybe other cactus fruits like tunas, pitayas, and dragon fruit taste better, but these were definitely not worth the effort or the spines. This is unfortunate considering how easily they seem to grow in some of the harshest conditions imaginable.