08 May 2011

Coconut Tree Trimming

Eating breakfast one morning, I watched as a guy drove in on his motorbike, one hand on the handlebars, the other gripping a 10 foot bamboo ladder. He parked his bike, took off his helmet and shirt, picked up the ladder he had placed on the ground, and walked towards the central part of the hotel. This looked interesting.
.When I returned to my room I found out what was up; he and his buddy were there to trim the coconut palms. Often at 8:00 am it is already rather hot but that day was overcast and even threatening to drizzle. This boded well for the men about to undertake the trimming of thirty trees.
The men, shirtless and shoeless, with small machetes in hand, climbed up there ladders that they’d placed against the coconut trees. Reaching the top of the ladder, they looped a fabric band around their feet to prevent their feet from slipping and ensuring a type grip around the trunk. These were real men.
With feet securely in place, right hand both gripping the machete and hanging on to the tree, they placed their left palm against the middle of the tree and pushed off. While doing this they pulled their knees up, inching up the tree at an impressive speed.

Some of the taller trees must be about five stories high and quite narrow at the top. Looking at them now I wonder if they ever snap under the weight of the trimmers. I’d guess they probably would if these guys were any larger.
Once at the top of a tree, the workers got lost in the foliage. You’d hear a whack, and then palm fronds and coconuts at various stages of development would drop to the ground. The men worked opposite sides of the property. The young ladies who work here stayed well out of the way until a call came from the top of the tree and they’d hurry to gather and sweep things up.
I was out with my camera trying to get good pictures of the work which was none too easy what with branches flying down and trying not to shot into the light which is hard when your subject is directly above you.
The whole thirty trees were done in under four hours. I think it would take the rest of us four hours just to scale one coconut tree.


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