How old do you have to be to get your first machete?

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At brunch the other day my stepmother asked me how old you have to be to get your first machete.  I just laughed, because my four-year-old neighbor can regularly be found chopping down all the sugar cane in front of his house.  

Machetes there are ubiquitous—women use them to cut kindling to start the morning fire, men use them to clear the path through the forest, and if someone sees a snake whoever can get there first kills it with a machete.  I used a machete to make cups out of plastic soda bottles when we didn’t have enough.  As one neighbor who had lived in the US put it, just like you need a car in the US to go to work you can’t work if you don’t have a machete.  My partner says that you can tell if someone is catracho (Honduran) because he can’t walk by a piece of wood without testing it with his machete.

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