Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Catch a Mango

My mango tree produces the most preferred kind of mango.  It's huge, and full of yellow/orange pulp.  Even though it really matures in August or even September while the other mangoes mature in May and June, people come to my gate in May, when they see them large and green, hanging from the tree.   They shout "Miss, Miss, can I pleaaaasssse have some mango?"  If I come out to the gate and say, "Oh really, they are quite hard.  It is better to wait until they are more ripe", the SAME children or men will be at my gate tomorrow saying "Miss, Miss, can I pleaaaasssse have some mango?"

For the first couple of years here in Belize I tried hard to say firmly "We will wait."  But that takes so much energy.  At least 8 times a day a different group of children or adults will repeat the same refrain. At which point my dog runs our to the gate and barks at them (thinking he is "defending the fort").   I can't allow him to  frighten children, so more than 8 times a day I go out to the gate and say "Not today."

And then what is worse is while I am in bed at about 11:00 at night my dog (who sleeps inside because he gets covered with mosquito bites outside) often goes into a frenzy because some boys or neighbors or young men have jumped my fence and are knocking down the mangoes and stealing them.

So now after 6 years of mango protection and trying to wait to let them get even larger and ripen, I gave up this year.  I figured that I would be in Maine in July for 10 days and during that time surely some boys or men would jump my fence and strip the tree.  So this morning, when a fruit seller came to my gate with his wife, granddaughter and son saying, "Miss, Miss, can I pleaaaasssse have some mango? "  I said, "Take as many as you want."

While the Dad took a long stick to hook the mango by the stem, the son and wife "caught the mango" to keep them from hitting the ground and breaking.  They will get between $1 and $2 in the market for each one.  Some of the mangoes will be sold as a snack.  They will peal the skin off, and cut them up into small strips.  The "green mango" which is really a light orange in color, will be sold in "dolla" bags with chile-sal and lime on them.

It feels somewhat of a relief to have them all down, but I will sure miss them in August. 

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