March 6, 2011

Coconut tree

(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)

There are three ways you can get a coconut from a coconut tree;

You can wait for it to fall from the tree to the ground with an unexpected thud.
You can stand at the base of the tree and wave a long bamboo stick up in among the leaves and knock the coconuts off the tree.
Or You have to pick them straight from the coconut tree. To do this you must climb the tree – a job normally reserved for young men or kids.

Climbing a coconut tree is all about the toes.
With your hands you hold either side of the trunk – they are to keep balance, the main work is done by the feet. You grasp either side of the tree trunk with your big toes and part of the balls of your feet.
You then proceed to climb up the tree, either with a hopping motion, pushing off with your toes to jump slightly up the trunk, or in a vertical crawl – left hand and foot, then right hand and foot.

This video is of a guy using the hopping menthod. He seems to have some cloth wrapped around his feet to keep them together - most people didn't do that unless they were going to be climbing alot of trees at once.

Joshua mastered the art of coconut tree climbing, I never quite got it – I think my toes were too soft to be much good at gripping the trunk. Whenever we came back to Australia Joshua would use his climbing skills to amaze our family. He would be able to climb just about anything – door frames, walls, poles.

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