Quite a group of skillful people in San Pedro in years gone by! We have seen the home made drum ovens, the hand corn mill, and the all-metal irons that required actual fire to heat them. Today I will take you through the fabrication of brooms to keep the house and the yard happily clean.
We are first going to manufacture a broom at no cost whatsoever and put it to use inside the house.
4 palmetto leaves
1 short piece of stick for handle
A piece of sturdy string or wire
First some explanation on the palmetto leaves. There is also the local palm leaf known as thatch or ‘taciste’ in Spanish. They grow all over the island and if you want to see them in abundance drive by around San Pablo. Now take the four palm leaves and fold each one individually into a tight cone-like structure. Then put all four leaves together and tightly fasten them unto the end of the piece of stick. Tightly wrap the string or wire about half way down the bundled palm leaves allowing it to fan out into an eight to ten inch diameter.
Trim the edges of the palms for uniformity and there you have a perfect soft broom which may be used inside the house on wooden floors or even on the dirt floors of homes that existed 25 years ago. Wear and tear allowed you to use this broom for several months depending on how often you used it, and after the broom is too short, well it is time to go to pick some more palm leaves and rig up another ‘Made in San Pedro Broom’.
To make the broom used in the yard, you use pretty much the same materials except that instead of the palm leaves you use the strong fibrous stem from which coconuts hang on the tree. In sort of the same process, you bundle up four of these stems and make the cone-shaped broom and fasten it unto the stick except that you will fasten this very tightly with tying wire. Again you wrap the wire rightly around the stem allowing it to fan out into a ten to twelve inch diameter. This yard broom is very sturdy and perfect to rake leaves, weeds and general outdoor debris. This broom/rake is perfect for several months and after that you simple climb a coconut tree and pull off three or four dried coconut stems and in a few minutes you have a perfect “Made in San Pedro’ yard broom.
There you have it folks; it is said that necessity is the mother of invention and when there were no imported brooms in San Pedro, every man and even some women were very adroit in fabricating these inexpensive ‘export quality’ brooms for the local market. I want to bet that folks all over Belize used different materials to fabricate their own brooms twenty five years ago.