Ah, goody. Another container port to add to my book. Puerto Limon is not very pretty, but then again, I didn’t really expect it to be. Don’t get me wrong. The sea is pretty and we are obviously in quite a sheltered bay, because there are no waves to speak off, even on the opposite shore, and the beaches beyond the port are deserted and look rather inviting. But Puerto Limon itself is a port, a working port, with boxes of things and containers and cranes and forklifts and all the usual accoutrements that combine to concrete over the pretty and replace it with functional but ugly. And, as always in these places, there is one pickup truck that just seems to drive up and down, apparently at random, and without an evident aim or destination. There was one at the Canal yesterday, doing just the same thing.
Puerto Limon is only a little port, I can see the other side. It’s not like Singapore or Los Angeles. It’s teeny tiny by comparison, but it’s a busy little place. Beyond it, the rainforest begins almost immediately, with only a sliver of grey-gold beach and a road before the foliage starts to swallow the houses. Oh, and the runway. Puerto Limon International Airport, as it is known. Because there is one flight to Panama, they’re allowed to call it international. Which is basically a runway of about 2 miles long that runs parallel to the beach, although the road veers reassuringly out of the way. Good thing too, because if anything really large, like a 747 ever came here, it would decapitate any passing cars.
27% of Costa Rica is protected forest and you’ll remember all those stats about biodiversity from the Puntarenas entry. 2,500 types of orchid, for a start; some of which, our guide, Alvero, assures us are edible. I think I may just take his word for that, if it’s all the same to you. Although vanilla is apparently an orchid, and I have nothing against eating vanilla-flavoured stuff!
Our driver, Franklin, kept stopping the bus to go and hack bits off trees to show us. He even brought a full bunch of bananas, and we all got one each. By the end, the coach was full of foliage!
We arrived, eventually, at the Dole Bananito Factory and Village. Bananito means little banana. We calculated that they have a target to process about 2 million bananas a day – 500,000 per container, 4 containers per day. And yes, when I say container, I mean a shipping container. Having seen the process, all gloves and masks and Tesco minimum requirements (no, really)(apparently they are the toughest standards in the world) for crèches and pay, we were then taken to the purpose-built village that they live in. Bananas are an ideal crop for the money-minded. One plant can give you bananas for over thirty years, without the need to reap or replant or anything. Just a bit of fertiliser and people to pick and pack. 42lb of bananas go in one box and then the boxes go onto pallets and the pallets go into the container. They weren’t picking or packing today, because there was no ship in port waiting to be filled.
We bought t-shirts in the village, and sampled the free local liqueurs and coffee and then headed off to the Colon Caribe Resort Hotel. We were brought here for shops and loos and there is also apparently a lot of wildlife. We saw no wildlife at all, but we did see the beautiful pool we didn’t have time to take a dip in. P&O are annoying.
Then it was back to the ship for a late lunch and to watch the boats and jetskis and swimmers in the bay, along with mysterious plumes of black and white smoke rising from different parts of the forest. Then a quick swim and a massage and then it was time for dinner. It’s all go, go, go around here.
Don’t expect much from me tomorrow – we’re losing that hour we gained yesterday, which makes the day astonishingly short. Added to which, it’s a formal night. Another one.