It’s daunting the first time you see a grown man walking down a path with a large machete swinging at his side. In PNG, one quickly becomes inured to this sight. Sharp knives as common an accessory as the mobile phone at home. Everyone- and I mean, everyone- carries a knife. How else to you open a coconut, whack down coconut palms, sever a banana stem, trim a pandanus frond, cut open a fish… etc., etc., etc.! What really caught my attention is how children are quite adept and comfortable with knives. Big knives. Sharp knives. It startled me at first, but nobody is terribly concerned about this…and it seems, they don’t need to be.
This little guy was helping his grandfather crack coconuts for copra. Grandpa husked them nearby, and tossed the shells to the boy to crack, drain, and set aside for drying.