what we cut

Here’s something we wrote, but never got around to including into our update letters. Maybe it’s interesting here.


Something as simple as using a machete opens a window into our friend’s way of life.

When we first moved into these mountains, we noticed almost everyone wore a machete strapped to their waist. Women wear machetes over their colorful batik wrap skirts. Men wear them to the garden, to the market, around the house. Sunday morning they are removed and stacked against the church wall.  Kids use them to split open chocolate fruit and clean the sticky seeds inside. One friend traded us a machete, another carved us a brand new handle, still another brought some tree glue and fixed the broken handle.

With a little work we now know more than 15 words that describe different parts of this otherwise simple tool, and now we are just beginning to plunge into learning some of the verbs that talk about how to use it…cut fish, chop a tree, split a coconut, clear grass…and so on.

But it will really be something when I learn how to use the thing right.

Ours is always breaking, being dull, or embarrassing us in some way or another. Maybe someday I’ll be able to casually tie one around my waist, walk out into the jungle, cut something, and then say over my shoulder to my friend, in her language, “yeah I just whacked that thing DOWN with my machete.”

Then I’ll be cool.

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