Hamaca: A Way of Life

If we’re being technical, the word “hamaca” is simply the Spanish word for “hammock.” But for Emilio Choco, “hamaca” is a way of life.

Choco, who is now 90 years old, resides in the Central American nation of Belize. His lifelong hobby began while watching others in his village make hammocks. Observing the process sparked interest of his own, which he used to make his own hammock for the first time at age 35.

After 55 years of practice, Choco is now steeped in the ancient art of hammock making. As opposed to using synthetics that are readily available, Choco chooses to use the insides of Henequen Cactus leaves as fibers for his hammocks. He also roasts his leaves over a homemade fire and uses a machete to remove the fibrous insides from the leaves.

The process is a long one, and Choco’s old age has kept him from completing the process more quickly. However, once the process is finished, Choco is always proud of his finished product.

Choco has explained that one of the reasons he loves hammock making is because of the usefulness of his finished product. He has expressed how it is the perfect place to relax due to how it can rock and have wind pass beneath it.

Choco believes it is important to learn how people used to make hammocks and wishes younger people would take up the practice of hammock making. Until they do, he will find satisfaction in making his own and using them for a comfortable lifestyle and sharing them with his community—taking the concept of hamaca to its utmost lengths.

There are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?