Fun with Bush Knives

Steve with kulau and bush knife.

Steve opening a kulau (green coconut) with a bush knife (machete.

One of the things I’ve learned here at the orientation course is how to open a coconut:

1. Buy a kulau (“green” coconut) for maybe a kina (40 cents). Or find one in a tree on the grounds and knock it down with a bamboo pole.

2. Peel the kulau with a bush knife (machete) if necessary. The kulau in the photo was already done for me.

3. Whack it around the bottom with a bush knife.

4. Open the lid with a bush knife, as I am in the photo.

I’m sitting in a haus kuk, or outdoor kitchen. (The phrase comes from two English words: “house” and “cook”.) We made the table and the frame out of bamboo and wood, without nails. I had to cut many of the poles down to size with the bush knife. The main purpose of the haus kuk is to learn to cook our meals over an open fire. No meals are provided over the weekend anymore, and we must feed ourselves here.

Beside me are two bilum, or string bags. They come in different sizes and shapes, and are used to carry just about anything in this country, including babies. Although the smaller bilum like these look feminine in our eyes, both men and women carry them. The green bilum in the photo still holds some greens that we bought at the open-air market just up the mountain.

This was our first weekend in the haus kuk, and the only time I have worn long pants, except on Sunday. The weather is just too hot and humid. I am also wearing my Five Finger toe shoes. They are still my shoe of choice for walking around on the mountain trails, but these days I go barefoot here on the grounds as often as not.

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