I’m still not totally used to living in a tropical climate. I’m used to seeing flowers in winter and melting in the summer I’m still surprised every year when I see tropical fruit growing on the street.
Xiamen has mango trees everywhere, and this time of year the fruit is ripe and ready to drop. I’m sure mango trees cultivated for the market are different, but here “in the wild” mango trees are tall and leafy which make for nice shade trees. Unfortunately, now that the fruit is ripening, standing under one could be a bit dangerous. A mango isn’t exactly light as it falls down onto your head.
So thank god for the aiyi brigade. Aiyi’s are middle aged aunties and they like nothing more than free stuff. So ever since the mangoes started growing, they have been roving around the streets in gangs picking at many as they can.
The come armed with plastic bags and buckets to collect the fruit and long bamboo poles with a handmade net at the end to pick it. Like I said, the mango trees are tall and you need something long to pick it.
The aiyi’s were picking the fruit before it was fully ripe, but now that it is literally falling to the ground, other people are getting into it. I was standing on a street waiting for a friend when I noticed a kid kinda milling around the street. Suddenly a gust of wind came, shook the tree, and dozens of mangoes fell to the ground. The kid scurried to pick them up and then looked up in the sky and started talking to someone.
That’s when I realized it wasn’t a gust of wind that shook the tree, but the kids dad. This guy had climbed into the tree (shirtless for some reason) and was shaking various branches for the ripe fruit to drop. Well, that’s one way to do it I guess.
But the mango gods are kind and they reign down plenty for all. I was once standing at a red light when one fell down next to us. A lady picked it up, dusted it off, peeled it and started eating it all before the light turned green. And it’s not uncommon to see people walking around with a few mangoes they picked up off the street.
But if people don’t eat the mangos then they inevitable get run over or stepped on, and now the pavement is filled with these gross dark yellow smears or slimy patches of rotten fruit. And despite all the free mangos, shops are still selling plenty. I guess there is an unquenchable thirst the people of Xiamen have for mangoes.
Before I came to Xiamen I’m not sure I ever actually ate a mango before. Sure, I had plenty of mango flavored things, dried mango and and I’m sure the Tropicana tropical fruit can had mango pieces, but I’ve never lived in a place where it is so common and eaten so often. Living in a tropical climate oftentimes sucks, but getting free mangos from the trees is one advantage I guess!