Monday, January 13, 2014

Where would Mexico be without its mighty machete?

A somewhat paranoid guy we met in La Paz told us that he had recently broken his favourite knife in half and thrown it away, as he was told that being in possession of a knife with a blade of over 2 inches would be a jail sentence in Mexico! I presume whoever told him that had a good laugh about that one. If he had only looked around him, he would have seen machetes everywhere in Mexico. They are used for just about everything, from slashing vegetation, to the opening of coconuts, slicing the vegetables and even for cutting down palm trees. The machete is one very versatile tool and everyone seems to have one. Mexico would come to a halt without them! 

The machete is a broad, heavy knife with a blade of around 13 to 18 inches. It originates from Central America and the Caribbean, and has been around since the late 16th century. In other words it's pre Google and has stood the test of time… 

The word 'machete' is from Spanish origin and roughly translates into 'macho hammer'. In Mexico it's much more than a macho hammer though; it's a very versatile tool, used by both men and women. Seeing them used in the kitchen by the average señorita, swaying them around with cunning speed and finesse, is a sight to see. Hands only centimetres away from the blade as she skilfully splits a coconut, cleans and chops a pineapple into little chunks or just chops the vegetables… The machete zooms through the air in many kitchens, doing almost acrobatic movements. 
The men are just as skilful and masters of the tool. They use machetes for anything from mowing the grass and scrubs, cutting and splitting coconuts, to topping a palm tree. If you decide to go to Mexico, and believe me you should as it's a great country to be in, don't worry about a little pocket knife… you can bring a machete if you like (although it would be better to buy one here!)

No need for a chainsaw, the machete is all that is needed to top this tree