June 5th This morning we all awoke to clear skies at La Quinta Inn. We had a wonderful breakfast before visiting the nearby organic pineapple plantation for a tour. While riding in a covered wagon, Michael, our tour guide, explained to us how pineapples are grown and harvested.
The Finca Corsicana farm consists of over 3,000 acres and each acre contains roughly 22,000 pineapples. In order to keep this huge operation running, there are approximately 325 employees working 8 hours a day. The company has wonderful benefits for the workers including a clinic, a restaurant, a grocery store, and educational programs. Planters typically make about $60 per day which is much better than the normal $18 – $20 per week that pineapple workers usually make in neighboring Nicaragua. While watching the planting process, we saw that this company uses plastic tarp to prevent weeds in the crop so that they do not have to use herbicides. They also do not use pesticides and use only natural fertilizers. Natural induction is a process whereby the pineapple forms on its own due to weather condtions. However, since this is a commercial process and the pineapples need to be formed all at the same time, ethylene is sprayed on the crop to mimick the natural induction process. Micheal picked a fresh pineapple from the field and allowed us to try it. I have to say that this was the sweetest pineapple I have ever tasted and most definately the freshest. Later we learned how they take shoots from one generation of pineapple to plant for another crop. They also cut the tops of the first generation crop and allow the shoot below to produce for the second year. After viewing the harvesting process and the packing process, we enjoyed some products from the Collin Street bakery. The pineapples produced at this organic farm can be purchased at Whole Foods and other supermarkets in America.
After the tour of the pineapple plantation, we left La Quinta for Manzanilla and the Almonds & Corals Lodge. The trip was approximately four hours and there was much to see. The flatlands hosted various agriculture crops, which went from pineapples primarily to bananas near the coast. There were also many rivers that we crossed over and the vegetation became more dense as we approached the Caribbean coast. Limon is a large port and a huge shipping center. The companies Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita are located here and they ship thousands of containers of fruit from this port. While traveling down the coast, we made a pit stop at the Cahuita National Park. Marco, our tour guide, gave us a tour down one of the trails and we observed various animals and plants. Some of the wildlife that we saw included two-toed sloths, howler monkeys, and leaf cutter ants. The Caribbean beaches looked very nice and the trees grew almost right up to the surf. Upon arrival at the Almonds and Corals lodge, we checked into our rooms. This resort is very unique and very sustainable. The cabins are built over the forest floor and are open to the forest with mosquito netting for walls. All of the grounds are within the dense forest in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. A few of us headed down to the beach for an hour before the sunset to catch a few waves. After cleaning up, a delicious dinner was served by the lodge staff. We all look forward to snorkeling over a coral reef in the morning.
– Ryan Baucom