10 August 2007
[8/03/07 NOSY-BE MADAGASCAR --- Dear Grandma, The ylang-ylang trees here look like shriveled old trolls, hunched down as they crawl up and down tropical mountain slopes. Workers hack off their branches so the arms of the tree and their fragrant, valuable flowers droop near the ground, where they easily can be picked. Otherwise, these knotty stumps would sprout into 40-foot-tall trees. They would be beauties. An Indian-owned company, SPPM Madagascar, boils the flowers, extracts their oils and sells it to perfume makers in France. The small of the factory is intense – one worker told me it gives him a constant headache.
Love you, and hope you are doing very well. See you at Christmas. – John]