I like to watch workers work.
Our neighborhood in Barranco, a district of Lima, Peru, is filled with workers. So I have lots to see. We are in the midst of a construction boom. Old buildings are knocked down. New apartments spring up. Streets are dug up.
A feast for my viewing.
In this flurry of activity, I find one set of workers more intriguing than all the others.
In Barranco, the Malecon is the street that faces the ocean. Palm trees have been planted on the crub . One hundred and thirty two trees, approximately 16 paces apart, extend over a mile along this street. A heavy bark grows on the palms , a brown fibrous material. The city has decided that this material should be trimmed. Then the trunk of the tree will have a smooth, grey appearance. In other words, the palm trees need a shave.
Consequently, a crew of four workers has to cut off the bark. They are the barbers. Three gather the material as it falls off the tree. The fourth is the one who fascinates me. He uses a belt to climb up the palm tree while holding a machette. Then he hangs on the trunk of the tree in a precarious position and, with much force, he swings the machette to trim the bark.
The young men who do this work are slim wiry folk. They must be strong, agile and courageous (or very foolish) It is hot, dirty, dangerous and tiring work.
From my observation, none of the other crew members ever volunteer to take the choppers’ place. I admire the chopper for his strength, skills and persistence. I hope he is well paid but I doubt it.
He should never lack for a job. I don’t think he can do more than a few trees a day. Once he finishes with the last tree, those at the head of the line are ready to be serviced again. So he has a neverending task.
Just like windowwashers, his work goes on and on.