Wednesday, December 12, 2012
My mention of bananas gives m an excuse to explain that Costa Rica was the original "Banana Republic." In the late 1800's, the country wanted a railroad built from the central valley where most of the people lived to the Caribbean coast, which would provide access to ship products to foreign markets.
Lacking the funds for such a large project, they used the same method as the USA did for building railroads. They granted rights to build a railroad to a private company that included large land grants on each side of the railroad right of way. An American company got the contract, built the railroad, and decided to plant bananas on the land to have a product to ship on the rail line. The company became what is now United Fruit Company, marketers of Chiquita bananas.
The banana industry had a profound impact on the country. Jamaicans were brought in to build the railroad, and their descendants continue to live along the Caribbean coast. At one point the company ended all banana cultivation on the Caribbean side of the country and moved to the Pacific side to thwart labor union activity. The political aspects of what is sometimes considered to be a "Banana Republic" was curtaild with Costa Rica's emergence as a stable democracy in 1949.
We have photos of Julie's Grand Canyon rafting trip posted on our Viva la Voyage travel photo site this week.