Blue mango tree heavily loaded with ripe fruit
Michelle Rivana Buckley: Growing up in Belize many of us kids would spend time in the mango tree(s) eating those delicious sweet mangoes and some times the green ones. Mangoes was a meal for needy families. Most families were large and and so many mouths to feed. I could recall having to climb down the tree in my aunt yard to go get black pepper and salt to eat the green ones. Then Climbing up the tree with salt in hand was an adventure in itself. If the person drop the salt oh lord! it was like the worst thing to happen. Every now and then someone footing would slip or moving around too much and down you went branch snapping and all. Falling was not as bad as losing the salt and pepper. If you had bird pepper (tiny slim dark red peppers that the wild parrots would eat) or habanero growing in your yard boy that was added value to the salt. The tree my aunt had in her yard was Judge Wig, sadly it’s no longer there.
My grandfather would go up the road on the Northern Highway to the Mr. Hurchilla and prominent Belizeans families that lived on the highway to collect sacks of red mangoes. They all knew him and allowed him as the mangoes were in abundance. They hung so low from the trees you could pull them down. To get the higher ones you either climb the tree or use a line stick (a long branch that had two smaller branch at the top to form a “V”).
Mangoes and other fruits were a substitute for candies. I could recall the Garifuna (Carib) women dressed in long white cotton skirts with short sleeve blouse and on top of their heads coiled is a blue and white plaid fabric where the white buckets or enamel bowls would sit. These women would walk around hands free selling their bowls of mangoes. We as kids would try and mimic them during play to see who could balance their bowl the best. My grandmother knew them by name and she was a regular customer. She would purchase a bowl for only $2. The mangoes they sold were called “Hairy mangoes”. I only know this because of the neighborhood I lived. My grandmother often told me that they would make these long trips to the city by bus or hitch hiking with their produce. These mangoes were juicy, brightly yellow and sometimes orange at the base with specs of black dots. They were so ripe when eaten the juice would flow down your hands and you would lick your hands to get every bit. We would suck the mango seed till it turned white.
As you all know the amount of mango you consumed or eat will tell on how much toilet trips you would make to the bushes if you lived on a farm or to the outhouses/toilets.
There are a variety of mangoes as shown in the photos. Slippers, Judge Wig, Blue, Hairy are the names of just a few.
Top photograph by Prosser Fertilizer & Agrotec Co.
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