A couple of local skills.

Ah, it never ends.  A quick look shows I am over a month behind with the blog again, so time for a little catch up, I feel.  This post is dedicated to a two local skills I have seen recently, one much more common than the other but both equally fascinating in their way.

The first is a thing I have seen often all over Asia and yet it still never cesases to amaze me although the reader may find it pretty mundane.  It is climbing coconut trees either to harvest or merely as a safety precaution.  Did you know that more people are killed annually by falling coconuts than by shark attack?  It's true, approximately 150 people per year die from being hit on the head by coconuts.  If you have ever felt the weight of one and imagine it coming down from perhaps 30 feet, it does not seem so surprising really.

Anna up the coconut tree.

Here we see Anna, an occasional barmaid in Mac's, demonstrating the skill.  We had been teasing her for ages about this and one day she was suitably attired so we dared her to go up the tree.  When I say suitably attired, let's be honest, you wouldn't want to do this in a skirt, would you?  So how exactly does she do it?  From a distance you would swear she was literally just shinning up the tree but a closer inspection reveals the trick.

Someone takes a bolo (machete) and makes a small notch in the trunk, perhaps two inches deep.  You don't want to cut too deep as it affects the tree's growth.  Standing one footed on that "step" they then cut another one on the other side slightly higher up and so on until they have a sort of ladder all the way to the top.

Clearing the deadwood.
Honestly, to watch people flying up these things is an education.  I tried a couple of steps and nearly cut the feet off myself, it is really painful.  Coconut farmers must have feet like leather.  In this image you can just see the tip of the bolo by Anna's left knee which means she is holding herself up there effectively by her left foot and a hand holding a machete and all this about 30 feet off the ground.  With her "free" hand, she is clearing the dead leaves prior to hacking off a few buko (unripe coconuts) for us.

Crack that buko.
Once back on the ground and with several buko harvested, Anna proceeded to give us a demonstration of machete work that would have done credit to the most crazed axe-murderer in the world.  About three swipes and she had the top off it and we were drinking fresh buko juice, which is absolutely gorgeous.  For those of you reading in the West, this is not the thick white stuff that is marketed in tins as coconut milk, that is a different product.  Buko milk looks like water and tastes beautiful, very refreshing.  Chilled down in a glass as shown below, it really is a treat.

Buko juice.
  I did hear a story although like many of these things, I have no idea how true it is.  It is said that during the Second World War, if American / Philippino medics ran out os saline solution to put in drips for wounded men, they just put buko juice straight into the IV.  Not only does it have nutrients but it is apparently completely sterile when it comes out of the shell.  I am not sure I wiuld want it done on me but it sounds feasible at least.

I know this is going to sound a bit like a broken record but yet again this website / internet connection has failed me miserably so I will post this and tell you about the other wonderfully interesting skill later.

Stay tuned.

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