16 hours travelling and a few hours sleep later, we step out of the hotel for the first time into the great outdoors. That unmistakable sweet hot air hits and fills me with the promise of tropical fruit to die for. This is Costa Rica, pura vida. We pile into a van which transports us out past the chabolas of San Jose, deep into the tropical countryside. While my family flinch at the stirring of leaves for a glimpse of some native wildlife, I get excited about the thousands of pineapples and bananas lining our route.
I take advantage of my Spanish and probe the guide’s knowledge of the local produce. Bananas from the Del Monte Chiquita plantations that surround us are exported back home to the UK and beyond. The friendly guide Dani quickly reminds us that the banana is ‘not a fruit, but a flower.’ Pardon me, señor for categorising this flower with the likes of apples and pears!
Bananas can be seen hanging in their snug blue blankets, maintaining an optimum temperature for those little baby bananas to grow as fast as possible to fulfil their destiny of… being munched up in a couple of minutes by we greedy humans.
Seeing these fruits at the very beginning of their long journey to supermarket shelves in England, it really makes me consider what a lot of effort goes into producing fruit of this kind, taking the same time as a human baby to grow, importing it from lands such as Costa Rica, then to distribute them to journey forward to a supermarket shelf near you. I also think about the thought that goes into launching these products even before they are mass-produced and distributed. From concept to launch, some products take years to perfect. And all in the name of filling a small gap in our appetites. So next time you quickly gobble down some pineapple or a banana, think about what a long and hard journey it has gone on to get to your hands.
The taste of this tropical fruit in Costa Rica is incomparable to that of England. Being able to pick it from a tree when perfectly ripe instead of having to tamper with the ripening process in importation is a privilege only for the local people (and tasted for a short while by lucky visitors). Take this photograph as an example, Tortuguero’s equivalent to a supermarket Produce department. The bright and friendly exterior perfectly illustrates the exotic and extensive offerings inside.
But we shouldn’t get too down hearted, Britain has plenty to offer of its own. As well as being “a nation of Shakespeare and David Beckham’s right foot” (quote Love Actually), we are one of deliciously sweet asparagus, fluffy Jersey Royals and juicy strawberries. The rain is currently doing its best to stop these from growing, but have no fear, British produce shall soon prevail!