Just off our main porch is a small stand of about 6 banana trees. For the past (nearly) 8 weeks we have been staring at a large bunch of green bananas hanging off one of those trees. About 25 meters, and across the little creek, from our house is another small stand of banana trees and there is another large bunch of bananas that look almost black hanging from one of those trees.
I never really gave the bananas much thought except to think, huh? bananas? I wonder how you get those down?
The other day, I found out.
The guy who lives in the property behind ours has lived here for 15 years, he’s Canadian and makes gorgeous hand-crafted furniture. He knows everything there is to know about living in Costa Rica. Like, everything. Whenever I get bit by some new creepy crawly (which is happening at an alarming rate lately), I run up to his place, show him the fresh wound and get assurances that I do not need an adrenaline shot to the heart (I may have a tendency to overreact).
Anyway, the other day we were up at his place chatting and the subject of bananas came up – obviously. We mentioned that we had a bunch (the one directly in front of our porch) that was getting molested by all kinds of animals. Seriously people, its been all wild kingdom up in this joint. We’ve had several capuchin monkeys, a few sloth, several varieties of birds, some squirrels and the effing raccoons that I hate with a passion (I’m not joking when I tell you that Riaz and I have spent at least 4 hours discussing ways to kill the raccoons. I am not a violent person, but if I see one more raccoon sitting on my porch waiting for me to go to bed so it can try to raid my trash I will hurt something – probably the raccoons).
We mentioned to the Canadian that the banana bunch was pretty high up in the tree and we weren’t sure how to get it down. He informed us that the bananas in front of our house were the bomb with your mom and that we should get them down before any more animals get to them. He also told us that banana trees actually only produce one banana stalk with several bunches of bananas on it and then dies. So really, when you want to harvest the bananas, you should just cut the whole tree down. News to me.
Randomly that same day, one of our other neighbors dropped by and showed me that we actually have about 25 banana trees on the back half of our lot. I had no idea. I clearly don’t get out enough. We trudged through the brush and she pointed out which bananas looked ready to cut down. After she left I went out back with a giant machete (no, I’m not joking) and made my way to the tree she had pointed out. I made a few half-hearted attempts to cut the whole tree down, but realized that I could just pull the banana stalk down to me and cut it off the tree – a much easier proposition.
The stalk came right off and before I knew it I was walking out of the woods with a large banana stalk slung over my shoulder with about 20 or so bananas on it.** It was awesome. Very Jane of the Jungle.
** Bananas grow on trees (thank you Captain Obvious), the tree sprouts this long stalk like thing with this large flower pod looking doo-dad on the bottom. The banana bunches grow on the stalk. Most of our trees seem to have 4 or 5 bunches on a given stalk and the bunches have anywhere from 8-15 bananas on them (give or take).
The next day, feeling empowered by my banana gathering endeavors, I took a walk across the creek to the tree holding the black bananas that we have been looking at since we got here. Turns out the bananas weren’t actually black, they were a very dark red. These red bananas are apparently The Best Bananas in the World. At least 5 different people have mentioned the deliciousness of these bananas to me and have told me that if any ripened up while we were living here to cut them down immediately and gorge ourselves on them.
The Best Bananas in the World were starting to get eaten by little bugs, which the Canadian told us is the time to chop them down. The stalk was too high up for me to get at with my machete so I started hacking away at the actual tree. I am a girl and this did not go well.
Riaz saw me flailing around and came out with the bigger, sharper machete and in about 3 chops had the tree down. Banana trees are made mainly out of water, and for their size, they are surprisingly easy to chop down (if you are a big ex-rugby player, not if you are a pregnant girl). We haven’t tasted The Best Bananas in the World yet, they still need to ripen up a little longer. We have them hanging out back on one of the beams in our garage – I’ll keep you posted on whether they live up to the hype.
After the ease with which Riaz got down The Best Bananas in the World, we decided it was time to tackle the bananas directly out front that the Canadian said were delicious. The problem with that tree was that it was very thick (probably 8-12 inches across), it was very tall, and no mater which way it fell it was going to land on some pretty dense jungle brush. The Canadian told us not to worry about it and to just chop it down. Riaz was up for the challenge.
The man in action:
About 1.5 minutes and 4 or 5 machete whacks later. Timber!
Hail, the conquering hero!
These bananas are basically ready to eat. For the most part, they stay green while they are on the stalk, but once you take the bunches off, they turn yellow. I’m headed out back now to clean them up and take them off the stalk – not sure yet how I am going to do that, but I hope I return from the garage with all my fingers.
We currently have about 40 bananas (including The Best Bananas in the World) and 20 or so plantains hanging from the rafters in our garage, anyone got any good banana bread recipes?