Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Outsourcing, Island Style: Black Point Basket Weavers

It didn’t take long for us to notice the abundance of palm frond weaving going on here in Black Point.  I mean, we’ve been here the better part of a week and have walked the main drag just about every day and each day I’d say one out of five people is sitting in some shady place, braiding away.  Their fingers move as fast as knitting needles and at their feet sits a winding pile of woven palm leaves.  What is strange though is not the fact that so many folks are keeping busy utilizing the one thing that grows in abundance on these islands (palm trees), but the fact that we never saw anyone make anything out of the stuff.  Long rolls of woven fronds were everywhere, but there was nary a basket to be found*.  "Where is it all going?" I wondered.

Finally, I approached a couple of sweet women weaving in earnest to ask 'what gives'.  Turns out, the folks here at Black Point (women and men, mind you - we saw both) weave the fronds in one long piece, roll it up in bundles and sell it to the Nassau straw market where they “pretty ‘em up” by making them into purses, wallets, baskets, hats and whatever else they think the tourists might like. "A ha!" I exclaimed.  "So *that* is why so many of you are braiding away!" The women laughed.  "Yes.  Money!" they replied rubbing their fingers together with a nod.  Apparently Nassau pays a decent price for the stuff.  The endless stream of cruise ships must keep that straw market busy. 

This is outsourcing, island style. Something tells me, however, that these lovely folks are going to stick to hand-weaving palm fronds, and that is just fine by me.


* There is one little shop at Adderly's grocery store that sells a few woven items such as bags and baskets, but definitely not enough to justify the bulk that this island is producing.

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