This post is about our visit to a banana plantation.
Lourdes and William took us to visit Lourdes' mother. She lives right in the middle of a very large banana plantation. We were able to get up close and even walk into and through the banana plants.
I had Chuck hold up a banana leaf just to show how long they are. You will notice that there are bananas growing on the plant behind him. They are covered in plastic to protect them from insects. The stalk of bananas are about as long as Chuck is tall. These bananas are grown for export. In fact, if you live in the U.S. you could have possibly eaten a banana grown right here.
The bananas are picked, washed, fumigated and packed right next to Lourdes' mothers house.
After the bananas are harvested, they are washed. William shows us some bananas in the bath.
They are then put in plastic bins and sent down the conveyor rollers where they are fumigated to kill any insects. They are packed while they are still green.
This is the other end of the process, where the bananas are packed into boxes.
While this is going on, boxes are being made next door to hold the bananas. Here, Lourdes and Ivan are showing us how they put the boxes together in this machine.
Actually, there were boxes from many different brands. Most of them I did not recognize. These bananas are shipped to many different countries.
What I found funny is that when I bought bananas in the U.S., I thought the Del Monte, Dole or whatever brand was a unique banana.....maybe from a different place. HA! They are all the same. It just depends on who they are packing for that day. Same bananas, different stickers.
After the bananas are boxed, they are fumigated again. Yes, the bananas you buy in the grocery store are quite toxic on the outside. I do not have any idea if the chemicals seep through the banana peels.
Right along the edge of the bananas fields cocoa plants are growing. Yes! Bananas and chocolate....yum!
Here is what cocoa looks like growing on the tree.
I had Chuck put his hand on one so you can see the size of the pods.
There was a pod on the ground that had dropped off the tree. William cracked it open so we could see the cocoa beans inside. The beans are white before being fermented and dried.
Lourdes' mother fed us dinner. Seco de pollo, rice and cucumber salad.
After dinner, Lourdes' mother took us into her house. She shared with us her most prized possessions. A few photographs of her children and a stack of diplomas and awards her children had received from their schools.
Now, the down side. Unfortunately, there is a down side and it must be shared.
Out of necessity, the people who live on these banana plantations wash their clothes in the river, just as many folks do right here in Cuenca. But, unlike Cuenca, their river is full of chemicals and toxins that is run off from the banana fields. It is killing them.
At this moment, Lourdes' mother is suffering from toxic poisoning. She got this from washing clothes in the river. I pray that she will be okay. She has stopped washing clothes in the river. Her children are hoping to buy her a washing machine. In the mean time, her sons are doing the laundry....and not in the river I hope.
We saw the river. There were children playing in the water, women washing clothes and Lourdes tells me some people even bathe in it. She said the incidence of cancer is very high. She told me of her mother's friend, who bathes in the river and washes her hair in the river, is now losing her hair.
All this so that when we go to the store to buy bananas we will have nice pretty bananas that are without blemish.
So there you have it, the pretty and the ugly of the banana saga.