Making do, the old fashioned way

Weed whacking in Nicaragua

Weed whacking in Nicaragua

When it comes to manual labor I feel a strong kinship with Central Americans.  Not that my current lifestyle requires me to do much of it, but I totally identify with their modus operandi.

Basically, I mean that their labor is almost completely based on physical activity with limited mechanical assistance.  Maybe they, and I, could accomplish more with the use of modern technology but where is the fun in that?

Give me the sense of achievement that comes with hand raking leaves into huge piles as opposed to using a noisy leaf blower.  Digging out after huge nor’easter blizzards, armed with nothing more than a shovel and broom, was always a stimulating challenge for me.  No snow blower required, thank you!

During a several year period of my life I was pretty obsessed with lawn care.  How so?  One year I actually pre-germinated seeds in an attempt to improve germination of patchy spots.  It required soaking them in nylons (not mine) with some concoction of Epsom Salts, Tobacco Juice and Beer if I remember correctly.  It made a hell of a mess in the bathtub — but I digress.

Even with my obsessive lawn behavior, I still always preferred the physical labor aspect.  Turning ground over necessitated a digging fork and spade.  A roto tiller would just be too easy!

I even preferred old manual reel blade push lawn mowers to gas powered or electric rotary mowers.  The thought of sitting in a tractor, and denying myself the rhythmic therapy of pushing a mower, never even crossed my mind.

However, any kind of mower may be considered a luxury by Central American standards.  I think we have seen only one lawn mower in all of our travels here.  Who needs them when you have machetes?  You just bend over at the waist and chop back and forth while moving sideways and forward.  Wow, what a strain on the back!

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Clearing the fields

The other day I went over to the outdoor basketball court to run some suicide drills and sprints.  Upon arriving I noticed four young men clearing the brush on an adjacent lot. Of course, they were armed with nothing but their Imacasa’s!

Lawn Care Center -- Nica style

Lawn Care Center — Nica style

This reminded me of one summer, in the early seventies, when I was in high school and working for the City of Camden Parks and Recreation Dept.  Each day a group of us would be sent into abandoned lots.  Armed with nothing more than rusty, dull scythes and sickles we were required to clear those properties of weeds, brush and fledgling trees that were often three times our height.

However, an effective morning of beautification often meant an afternoon of playing basketball, so the reward was well worth it.  Not to mention our minimum wage pay.

Colorful court

Colorful court

So, each time that I walk, or run, past a local laborer working magic with their machete strokes I will continue to think of those long lost days when I too reaped great  satisfaction out of the fruits of manual labor.  Not that I am looking forward to joining their efforts any time soon!

No, I only hope to convince Valerie that our continued exploration of this beautiful island would be so much more enjoyable, and rewarding, on sturdy, properly sized bicycles.  Riding on a motorized scooter, to me, just seems like cheating!

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