My Pavuvu Pepper Story

January 23, 2011

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about meeting so many CorelDRAW users over the past eighteen years is the opportunity to hear their stories. I learn all about how they use CorelDRAW, but I also learn something about their lives away from the computer. Today I want to share something that came from one of those stories.

This story starts during World War II. The 1st Marine Division found themselves on the island of Pavuvu. It is a very small island in the Solomon Islands found Northeast of Australia. One of the Marines, Fidel Hernandez, noticed that the island birds were attracted to a small orange pepper. After the birds ate the peppers, they would chirp and squawk. I’ve never had any military rations, but it has never had a reputation of being great food. So Fidel used the peppers to spice up his food and later said “that little pepper spiced up my life on that crummy island.”

When the Marines left the island, Fidel filled the pockets of his field jacket with the peppers. Eventually he returned home to Southern California and his jacket ended up in the garage rafters. Twenty years later he found the jacket when cleaning his garage and his pockets were now filled with dried peppers. He took the seeds and planted them in his backyard planter and soon he had peppers of his own.

Fidel passed the story of the peppers to his Marine buddies and soon they were all growing the peppers. That has continued for many years and the peppers have been grown in many different locations. In fact, the peppers have been officially classified as being unique to Pavuvu. They are officially known as the “Fidel Hernandez Pavuvu Pepper Plant.”

Now let’s go back to the spring of 2007. A retired Marine came to our CorelDRAW Unleashed Training Boot Camp and told the class the story of the Pavuvu Pepper. I love spicy food so I was thrilled that a few seeds were soon in my mailbox. I started a few plants and never could get them to do much. Finally I got one to grow a bit and it flowered. Unfortunately I still didn’t get a single pepper. My original supply of seeds was starting to dwindle. I kept trying and I finally have some peppers! After all of this story, I still haven’t even tried one of the peppers.

After a short break from writing the story, I’m back. I went to my plant and picked a pepper. They are only about an inch long, so I took a big bite. Yes, they are hot. I’m not sure if they are hotter than a jalapeno or not, but I’d say they are pretty close. Hopefully my plant will soon produce more peppers so I can use them to spice up a few meals. Heck, maybe I can get enough peppers so that I have seeds to share with you!

Post Discussion


  1. bethestaryouare

    What a wonderful story! With your permission, Foster, I want to retell your story when I speak to garden clubs. I LOVE hot peppers. Thanks for posting this inspirational and fun story.
    Happy gardening and take a big bite!
    Cynthia Brian
    co-author, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul

  2. bagpiper

    I’m a former Marine and I knew Fidel Hernandez personally. What a great guy he was. He told me that whole story one time at a 1st. Marine Div. Assn. function at Tar Springs Ranch in Calif.Fidel reported to his final duty station at the Pearly Gates a few years back. We miss you “Buck”. Semper Fi

  3. thefreckledhummingbird

    Fidel Hernandez is my great grandfather! We have these peppers planted in our backyard and they are so beautiful. We have given seeds to many friends. These peppers are HOT! Thank you for telling this story!!!


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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