I had the most wonderful time on the banana farm in Honduras. That is going to be a surprise to zero people. I have a little bit of nature running in my veins thanks to my parents, and anything involving plants, animals, or digging my hands in the dirt is both therapeutic and enjoyable to me.
Our host Ramón was such a kind man, with a ton of knowledge about his banana crops, even though banana farming is not his primary profession. Maybe I took to him so much because he reminds me of the perfect mix of Papa and my dad. I did not know any other adult, non-skater that wears Dickies as regular work pants other than my dad, until I met Ramón. And on our first full day with their family, Ramón must have stopped us at five different places to try out local foods and Honduran specialties, I did not think I could fit any more food in me! SO very Papa.
I think my favorite parts of our visit with him, were just following him around his banana fields and listening to him talk about the plants. I learned so much! Plus, I picked up a bit more Spanish there as well, which is always a plus. The rows of banana trees were so shady and peaceful. They have these giant umbrella-like leaves that create a beautiful canopy that feels so exotic.
The trees themselves were really interesting because they did not have the same type of trunk that most trees have. Instead, their leaves develop from the center of the plant, growing upwards and fanning out. The ‘stem’ of the older leaves are wrapped around the rest of the plant, creating a trunk-like core. After one bunch of bananas is harvested, the tree is chopped down and cut apart to not attract parasites that are harmful to the trees. We basically got to play fruit ninja with the tree trunks. Forget the gym, if you want a great full-body workout, hack apart bananas trees for a few hours! We got to be professionals, eventually slicing through the trunks with one swift whack. Ninjas. For this task, we were given guapotes, which are larger and sharper machetes. The blade is bigger, and the force of each blow is carried a bit further down the blade.
Our biggest job while on the banana farm was going out every few days to perform “micro-surgery” on the trees. This involved tromping around the rows of trees with machetes, finding leaves that were brown, yellow, or any mix of the two, and cutting the brown or yellow bits off. In Honduras (where most everything is farmed organically), banana trees get a leaf disease called Ciga Toca, which does not affect the bananas at all, but attacks the leaves, slowing banana production. So we cut them off, to help the tree not struggle with healing the leaves.