Tuesday, October 8, 2013

45. The Papaya

Yesterday marked the end of an era. 

Yesterday, we chopped down the beautiful papaya tree that graced our front garden.

We loved that tree-- it was an amazing plant.  Unfortunately, its rapid and unchecked growth (some 20 feet in less than 4 years) was wreaking havoc on the structural integrity of our little brick house. The roots of the tree were creating cracks in the veranda and shattering the concrete gutter. The cracks on the wall, which had been present for years, were starting to fan out and widen. We knew that the tree would have to go.  

Finally, after much procrastination, we asked Seni if he would cut it down.

To our surprise, Seni responded with gusto.  In fact, he responded with so much enthusiasm that I felt the need to verify that he actually had some experience.  His eagerness seemed to suggest that he'd like nothing more than to get his hands on an ax and start swinging away.  He promised that he knew what he was doing, however, and arrived within the hour with an ax and rope in hand.

His method of chopping was really quite clever.  He first shaved off the lower limbs-- the ones that he could reach.  Because the wood was weak and spongy, the branches tore right off.  Then, he tied a rope to the upper half, handed the reins to Romao, and climbed onto the wall of the veranda to hack, one-handed, at the upper truck.  After Romao pulled the upper half to the ground, Seni went to work on the base.  Seni swung the ax and chopped, while Romao pushed on the ten-foot snag.  Finally, the whole tree lay in pieces in what used to be our beautiful, front-yard garden.

The whole process took less than fifteen minutes.

Seni chops at the upper half of the tree, while Romao pulls on the rope
Seni starts to chop at the remaining lower half 
The kids gather the unripe papayas...
...And help clean up the yard

For the neighborhood kids, the event was a big, fun commotion.  For Dan and me, it was kind of a sad moment.  It really did mark the end of an era.  The tree first started growing at the beginning of Janet and Lucas's service, and it fell at the very end of ours.

And, frankly, the house looks stark naked without it.  

Before (with papaya)
After (without papaya)
Before (with papaya)
After (without papaya)

It's the first of many changes in our last few weeks in Mozambique.

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