Just before 5:00 AM, the rooster began to crow incessantly. Everyone awoke and met downstairs for breakfast. We grabbed shovels, pickaxes, and our water bottles and headed out. The first half of the day was spent re-grading the trail system that ran between the individual houses in the jungle community. The trails had become overgrown and there were many places with significant evidence of erosion. Because of the weather in Costa Rica, this task must be done every few months during the dry season and every week or two during the rainy season. Although we did not get the whole network of trails fixed, we were able to do a substantial amount of work on the trails near the house. By the time we finished, it the trail was wide enough for quads to drive through, as was our goal.
After lunch, we went to the banana crop on the plantation. It was fascinating. I had always thought bananas grew and were picked like normal fruits, but that isn’t the case at all. Each banana tree only yields bananas once before it is cut down—from the base a new stalk will grow and yield the next crop.
(This video is not mine, it is a related video from youtube that shows the same things we did)
Since the tree-like stalks that grow bananas are useless once they yield fruit, they are chopped down with a machete for harvest. While we toured the plantation, our guides chopped down a few trees and had us haul the large clusters of bananas back to the house – a skilled harvester, such as our guides, can chop the tree so it gracefully folds over and braces itself against the ground, leaving the bananas at about waist-height. Our guides informed us that this plantation grew its bananas organically and that it took a full year for their bananas to grow. Other plantations can produce banana crops every 6-months, but they use chemicals to grow their bananas at faster-than-normal rates. The bananas from this plantation tasted much better than bananas grown with chemical additives.