La Bella Crucita, Friday, 02/08/2019

“Another cloudy start today and I suspect the flags along the beach are still red Nilla.”

“That’s okay.  Are we going to discuss bananas today?”

“Sometimes you drive me bananas Nilla.  But yes, let’s talk bananas.”

“Spanish and Portuguese colonists brought the banana and its African name with them across the Atlantic to the Americas.  Here in Ecuador there are different varieties and each has its place in local cuisine.”

“How many types Nilla?”

“Five.  The platano verde or plantain, platano maduro or ‘ripe’, orito or baby banana, red banana and manzano.”

“And they all taste different.”

“Absolutely.  The orito is very sweet, the red banana, with it’s purple skin and pinkish fruit, tastes more like the yellow bananas back home and the manzano, the short stubby variety has a mild flavor that has an apple or strawberry flavor.  The ripe platano is yellow and very sweet and has a firm texture while the green platano tastes like potatoes and is very starchy.”

“I know banana production is important to Ecuador’s economy, ranked second, after petroleum in exports.”

“Production of bananas began in Ecuador in 1910 but was not significant until 1948. President Plaza, besides offering agricultural credits, built a highway on the coast and developed shipping ports.  Ecuador was the largest banana producer worldwide in the 1950s.  Fungal disease, land holding fragmentation and labor issues resulted in a large production decline.”

“Ecuador once belonged to the Union of Banana Exporting Countries which collapsed after the ‘bananagate’ as the result of  the questionable trade transactions of United States companies.”

“What helped Ecuador, at the expense of Central American countries and Colombia was the Black sigatoka, a banana disease and that, combined with the political unrest through much of Central America, positioned Ecuador as a top producer/exporter.  And so, Standard Fruit and DelMonte Fresh Produce Company selected Ecuador as their principle banana supplier in the 1970’s.  Ecuador’s trade policy also encouraged international trade and increased banana exports significantly in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Ecuador was not spared from the Black sigatoka which caused six hundred million dollar losses in 2012.”

“Did the 2016 earthquake have an impact on banana exports?”

“Apparently not Jackson.  At the time, oil prices had fallen and Ecuador’s economy was suffering.  The earthquake and rebuilding, still an ongoing process, took a toll.”

“In the Unites States plantains don’t seem to be used much in cooking.  How are they used here?”

“Jackson, the green plantains are sliced and fried to make chips called chifles and the ripe ones are sliced lengthwise and baked, a sweet combination with rice and fish here on the coast.  There’s also a soup with fish and contains bananas called viche”

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“Soup and bananas, sounds a bit strange to my palate, but a warm ripe banana with a little vanilla ice cream, now that’s desert!”

“The soup might be interesting.  I haven’t seen it on the menus here, but will look for it.  Your idea of desert might really be delicious.”

“What’s for lunch?”

“Tuna with a drizzle of lime juice, a hint of cilantro, diced onion and radish on a fresh roll.  Who’s at the door Jackson?”

“It’s Tito and his assistant, they want to come in and take care of the dead palm tree.”

“Now?  We’re about to have lunch.  The Ts asked them to call before they came.”

“Well here they are.”

“One dead palm tree to go and another on the way tomorrow.  Looks like a slug-like creature is the culprit killing the palms.  Only one palm will remain.  We’ll have to devise another way of hanging the clothes line.”

“I don’t imagine that will be too difficult.  If Tito comes back tomorrow morning and finishes the back yard and Manuco shows up, getting everything taken care of on the same day won’t be bad.  The Ts think he had said he would be back next Saturday which would be tomorrow.”

“And then we can clean the place, no point in doing that with dirt being brought in by workers.  Tonight is gringo night at Mi Tierra.  Let’s get a walk down on the beach while it’s low tide.”

“Let’s”

“The flags are red again Jackson and I feel some raindrops.”

“Not bad enough to not go for a walk.  Down to the marina and back!”

“No unusual treasures from the beach today Jackson, just one shell and a sand dollar.  On the far end of the beach toward the marina, there are so many sand dollars just beneath the surface of the sand, it’s hard not to step on them!”

“They sort of make a butterfly pattern if you take a closer look.  It has to do the the holes on the test.”

“We need to get ready for Mi Tierra.  Every week it seems there is a larger crowd Jackson.”

“Aventurero is already here along with Guardagatos and many new faces.  Looks like Russell and Gary are going to provide some music.”

“We met Russell the other night.  He’s a musician – place the guitar – folk type music, and Gary, he lives up by Guardagatos and also play the guitar.”

“Roy and Terri want us to come by their place tomorrow.  Their’s the house that is almost falling off the cliff.  It’s been saved by huge boulders.  Roy says that the seascape underwent significant change after the earthquake in 2016.  They were here when it happened Nilla!”

“Horrible! Lasted just under a minute, but seemed like an hour he said.  Devastating damage.  Over one thousand aftershocks, several were significant.”

“The good thing is that another major one probably won’t happen for a long time.”

“It would be nice to go see their house, but that will depend on who shows up tomorrow and when.  Aventurero has his cleaning lady coming tomorrow too.”

“Nachos are very good at Crucita Village tonight, Aventurero thinks so too.

“Aventurero has changed his return flights home.  He doesn’t want any issues when he returns next year.”

“Good night Nilla.”

“Good night Jackson.”

 

 

 

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