May has come and gone, and we are currently at the end of mango season. It is the best season in Cameroon, and there’s really no reason to argue against that claim (unless you’re allergic… then I somewhat understand). Here’s my guide to doing mango season correctly.
- Play with your food: Everyone tackles mangoes in their own way. You could peel off the skin (but honestly, who here has a peeler?), you can cut the mango into slices, or you can do it the village way by biting the top of the mango and using your teeth to peel the skin off. All the fibers get stuck in between practically all your teeth, but there are toothpicks available and you show the world how awesome you are. No matter what, eating a mango is always a fun time. However, there was one time I stopped everything I was doing to go home and use some floss. The situation was dire.
- Don’t be afraid to get sticky: This goes hand-in-hand with eating tactics, but there is no way to be graceful when handling a mango. Toddlers and grown adults act the same way. Once the skin is off the mango, there’s really nothing you can do except embrace the sweet, sticky fruit. Juice covers your entire hand and face, and it’s pretty much sacrilegious to not eat the entire fruit meaning it’s a two-hand endeavor. Everything stops when it comes to mango time.
- It’s all about teamwork: Mango trees are everywhere, and the best activity during the season is picking the mangoes. Because, honestly, why pay 5 or 10 cents for a mango at the market when you pick your own for free?? Mango trees are much bigger than apple trees in the US, and kids learn from an early age how to obtain their prize. The process involves one person throwing either a rotten mango or a medium-sized rock into the branches so that the ripe mangoes fall to the ground. Then a friend or two run after the fallen mangoes, collect them, and put them off to the side for safekeeping. They also enlist someone to protect their bounty. It truly is a group effort. Sometimes, people will try to collect mangoes from trees that aren’t theirs. That leads to loud fights, and the resolution of the trespassers giving up the precious goods. Another option of mango collection is climbing the tree, shaking the branches and having everyone else collect the fallen fruit. Aron showed off his tree-climbing skills multiple times this season.
- Everyone is happy: We deal with many struggles in Abong-Mbang. Whether it’s drunk people asking for beer, the power being out for days and weeks, the constant screaming of neighbors or the crying of kids, there is never a day when everything is perfect. Alas, when you hand someone a mango all their problems seem to disappear for a few glorious minutes. Electricity is out, you say?? Damn it. Electricity is out, but here’s a mango! WOOHOO! Mangoes make great prizes for activities at school; students pass their time collecting them and handing them out to friends and teachers; and everyone is thrilled that they can finally eat the fruit they’ve been anxiously watching grow at a slow but steady pace over the last five months.
Well, there are the top reasons that mango season is officially the best. It’s also technically supposed to be rainy season, meaning I can collect fresh clear water and I don’t have to worry about the awful dust clogging up my nose and always getting me dirty.
Finally, mangoes do not give malaria! Hooray! Only mosquitoes do. So once everyone is properly educated on the transmitting agents of malaria, no one’s taste buds have to suffer when someone declines a mango saying that they’ll fall violently ill if they eat one. Good thing we made a malaria awareness mural at the entrance to our district hospital that explained the illness and explicitly stated that mangoes are no danger. Mangoes for everyone.
So who here is going to argue that this season is simply not the best?
PS: Welcome readers, to 2015. I am very sorry this is my first post this year. Much more is coming within the coming week, including a highlight real of my year so far, a tutorial to housework in Cameroon, and dealing with failure at work. It should be a good time. I will also have some South Africa and Cameroon pictures up to entertain you. Enjoy.