Modernity, progress; the inexorable march of time – enemies all of our uniquely Caribbean heritage; our most cherished cultural traditions.
We’ve plowed this ground before, decrying the dimming fortunes of ship-building traditions in the Grenadines, the floating market in Curacao, and a very special art form in the Abacos the likes of which we may never see again.
The broader world’s progressive encroachment into the Caribbean isn’t all bad, of course. I just wish that as much as it giveth the region, it would do more to help preserve the special bits of our heritage it invariably taketh away.
I mean, just consider someone like Emilo Choco. In 2006, at the age of 80, he was profiled in this video as being the last living practitioner of the ancient Mayan art of hammock-making.
The last one.
Sure, you can still find, purchase, and enjoy what appear to be authentic Mayan hammocks all over Belize, Mexico and much of Central America, but how many of them were actually crafted at the hands of someone like Emilo? Hands hardened by experience, guided in their work by a deep sense of pride for carrying on the old ways. Hands inspired by love.
By the looks of this video, you won’t find many hammocks made with hands like Emilo’s anywhere, which brings to mind a great by-product of progress: the need to visit places like Belize now, to find people like Emilo now, to glean what you can from him now, and hopefully come away with one of his special hammocks now… before they’re all gone for good.
Lead photo credit: Sarah Sosiak via Flickr.