Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Queens of Seaweed

It turns our there is another secret below the turquoise blue water in front of our beach house. It is full of seaweed gardens that are only revealed at low tide. Years ago people from the Philippines came here to teach the women how to plant seaweed and prepare it for export. Now each family has underwater seaweed “farm”. Each day as the tide begins to recede little sticks begin to appear and pretty soon women fully clothed in their brightly colored sari like wraps and head dress walk into the water to tend their crops. For hours they sit in the water harvesting and retying their seaweed in neat little rows. The sand is so white and midday sun is so bright it feels like the glare of intense sun on snow.

The children that are not in school frolic and swim in little tide pools next to their mothers farm or race their exquisitely crafted toy Dau ‘s (a miniature version of their fathers real fishing boat). Their laughter and calls to each other echo across the shallow water. By the time the tide has ebbed little gardens are fully revealed and hundreds of women (as far as you can see) are chatting and singing as they then their crops.

When the seaweed is ready to harvest they the little clump from the string it is attached to and collect it in an old rice bag. Once the bag is full the women wade ashore with the bursting bag on top of their head and take it to dry on the ground outside of their home.

I am not sure what the queens of seaweed think of their work as I could not find anyone who spoke English, but I think it is one of the most facinating farms I have ever seen.

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