Friday, we left bright and early (5:30 a.m.) for la playa. However, en route we made a couple of important stops.
It seemed like it took us an hour of driving on neighborhood streets, full of turns and hills and narrow roads--in a bus I might add--before getting to the highway that we needed to take. We drove through the Braulio Carillo National Park, which is a cloud forest that covers 44,000 hectares of land. I just checked, and that converts to over 108,000 acres. For the longest time, there wasn't an "easy" way to get from San Jose' to the Limon Province, but the highway that goes through this national park changed that. I believe it took a lot of effort by it's supporters, as many people feared the impact this highway could have on the environment. It takes a little over an hour to drive through, that is if there is no fog enveloping the roadway. The flora and fauna were beautiful. The valleys were breathtaking. Unfortunately, there is no way to get a great picture when traveling in el bus.
After we made it through the cloud forest, we drove through a banana plantation. This gives new meaning to "Banana Republic." The plantation owners build small houses for his workers to live in, since they are far away from the conveniences of a city. The owner will also own the grocery store. So, he pays his workers and then they pay him back in rent and in groceries and other necessities. Add to that that it's very difficult work, so they have trouble finding workers who want to stay more than 6 months. We learned a bit about the process of which bananas are grown and harvested. First of all, a banana tree is actually an herb! The bird of paradise flower is a distant relative. They take 9 months to produce bananas, and then once they produce them from the flowers, they are cut back. The flower can produces dozens to 100s of bananas, depending on the type and it's size. The banana plants put off suckers (shoots) from which a new plant grows. Pretty cool.
Muchas banana plants!
These "fingers" grow into yummy bananas or bananaos in espanol.
Bananas for shipment are harvested before they are completely ripe. When they are ready to be ripened, they are cooled to speed up the process. Bananas that are not fit for eating or exporting are used for ..... baby food! Nice, isn't it?
OK, enough about bananas. My next post will be about the Cabecar people that we visited. Hasta Luego.