The Versatility of the Machete
Some of you may not know this, but the machete is one of the most useful tools available to man. It might not seem like much but its simplicity yields it to being used as a grass and branch cutter, a rudimentary shovel, and even a gutter cleaner. I learned all of these useful things when I was doing a service project for a friend in the southern tip of Panama in the early 1970s when it all happened.
I was in Panama on business- I had frequented the country for years as I am an engineer and went down every couple months to make routine checks on the canal. I have a very good friend that was part of the construction crew that helped with the maintenance. He had just moved into a humble home along the beach that had no one living in it for about year. Naturally it was quite over run with vegetation, almost to the point of being completely overtaken by Mother Nature.
I had finished all I had to do by Friday and my flight didn’t leave until Sunday so I dedicated my Saturday to unearthing the new home from the vines and vegetation. As you might have already guessed, the Panama natives can’t afford things like shovels and pruning sheers, however, machetes are cheap to make and easy to come by. So me and my friend started hacking away, about two hours into the project we heard a loud hissing noise. We found a large python near the front door; my friend wasted no time in cutting off the pythons head and continued working.
Then came a larger problem that at first I thought couldn’t be solved by a machete but I was quickly proved wrong. The electricity in the house was pretty standard and basic but the plugs had vegetation growing through them. A fairly intricate task that I was about to tackle by hand, but again Enriquez showed off some of the most impressive blade work I have ever seen. He sliced and diced with the skill of a five star chef. He diced, sliced, and filleted the plants laced through the electrical wiring with ease and ability.
We finished vanquishing the plant foe later in the evening. After only about 10 hours of work, Enriquez then cooked up some delicious fajitas. He used the same machete we had been using throughout the entire day- didn’t even wash it. The fajitas took on a nice vine flavor and were delicious and I didn’t even get sick. The next day I got on my flight back home with a new found respect for the machete and those who wield it.