Nimal showed me how to remove the sap from the coconut trees in front of Jetwing Blue and Beach in an exciting new experience that allows you to learn first hand how tapping and then twisting, the pots that were full of the raw liquid, at this stage smelling a tiny bit boozy is not for making arrack in this case but for making treacle for the hotel. To stop this fermentation process happening Nimal filled it with a small bits of the tree’s bark to prevent it becoming alcohol. He also took his Crocodile Dundee knife and hacked away a little at the stump to stimulate, further, the secreting of this soon to be delicious accompaniment to yogurt/curd or ice cream in the restaurant.
Unusually, my descent, was much easier than the ascent and this was the end of the tapping – there was a large and a medium sized pot for the morning’s work. Indrani, Nimal able assistant for collecting the juices in the pots and the keeper of the fire for boiling the raw juice, told me that they get RS/500 per large pot, and that one gallon of raw juice gets boiled down to one bottle of treacle, worth RS/75. “I have been a tapper for 43 years since I was 12 years old,” Nimal claims, having learnt the skill from a Tamil from southern India, but his son has other ideas for his future, sadly, so Nimal is looking to recruit his apprentice from the likes of a traveller interested in staying on in paradise, so send in your CVs if you want an amazing job in an amazing place like Jetwing Beach and Blue, but be prepared to wait a few years as he has no intention of stepping down, or should I say stepping off, any time soon and seems very proud of his job. He is very happy that I had a go.
I was then taken across the road, past the fine all-weather Jetwing Beach tennis court, through the amazing oasis that is the Jetwing organic vegetable garden where I tried fresh cucumbers, to where the treacle is made in vast woks that require five hours of boiling before the sticky dark brown nectar of the gods is produced. The same cinnamon wood fires are also used to burn clean the inside of the collecting pots, which takes about ten minutes. The boiling process also kills off any residual fermentation that may have occurred in the collected liquid, which is then bottled and served or served in the hotel dinning rooms.