Thursday, we went to a banana plantation and opinions were split upon whether or not this large corporation was hiding information from us. We did spend a ridiculous amount of time watching power points showing off the merits of Chiquita and its numerous outreach programs and none in the plantation or the packing plant. That night we even had an organized debate where our most vegan member surprisingly defended – to a certain extent – the use of pesticides. In reality, she was only correcting a technical error that many of us were making (using pesticides is not bad for the consumer’s health because of how thick banana skins are) but the fact remains that she sat on the pro-commercial side of the argument for a couple minutes.
In the afternoon, because of how far away it was, we weren’t able to make it to a non-commercial banana plantation. Instead we had the time to ourselves and went to visit the local people. First we went into town and I once again tried my hand at interpreting. We asked the local people how they felt about the rainforest and the government’s efforts to preserve it and surprisingly most of them agreed with those policies and felt they were important.
Then Shanté and Jakob told me about a couple that made pottery a short way out of the hotel, and how the day before they had conversed with them in French!! Indeed the woman is French and moved here after she fell in love while on holiday. We had a long conversation where we asked her questions in French and she translated to her partner in Spanish when she didn’t know the answer he then answered and she transmitted the information to me which I then relayed on to the others in English, all of this recorded for a potential radio program.
It was very interesting to see everyday life broken down for us by someone who knew how we thought. She explained for instance that the people live in a day-by-day matter, and if they can’t buy food on one day, they believe God will give them double the next. She also translated that no matter the amount of money her partner would not doing anything else because “no hay dinero que valga si no tenemos cultura, si no tenemos bosque, si no tenemos naturaleza.”
Yesterday, we woke up bright and early in order to go bird watching. At first the pickings were rather slim. Therefore, we left the garden area, where the more colorful birds live - since there is less of a canopy, there is more light for them to show off their colorful plumage – and went into the forest. Despite our guides pessimism due to the denser canopy we heard a Motmot, Our guide then imitated its call (with surprising acuracy) and instead attracted a different, much more territorial Motmot. The bird is so beautiful!
On our way back to get breakfast, we saw a spider monkey (see video below) and a parrot. These definitely made the early morning worthwhile!
In the evening, after a coffee tour plantation – where most people stocked up on fair trade, organic coffee – and a hydroelectric plant, we had asalsa dancing class. It was entertaining to watch everyone come together and learn to dance. Even our teachers joined in!
I’m still hoping we will get to Boston before midnight. Perhaps the storms over Florida will abate and we will be able to leave soon.