Our Accidental Self-Guided Tour of the Chiquita Banana Plantation in Chiapas
Updated: May 25, 2022
We recently had quite the experience while making our way back to the marina, which included multiple combi rides, a long walk, a banana plantation, and a lot of sweat.
We have come accustomed to taking Colectivios (or combis), which are a form of cheap public transportation in Mexico. Generally they are 16 passenger vans, often times not in the best condition and more times than not, playing the driver's choice of loud music. After flagging down the combi that morning, we asked the driver if he was going to Marina Chiapas, he responded with an energetic "Sí" and told us to hop in. We have taken this route many times, so when we made a different turn, we shrugged and assumed we were taking a detour or dropping someone off. After a bit we were certain we were not turning back towards the marina so, we asked the driver again if we would be going back to Marina Chiapas, this time he said "ohhhhhh noooo". At this point we are on some back roads, deep into the banana plantations, on the border of Guatemala (good thing we had our passports with us). The driver tells us to get out and wait for another van...so we get out and we are seriously in the middle of nowhere and it's HOT, as in jungle hot.
There were some plantation workers riding around on bicycles and a few trucks full to the brim with bananas, but nothing else was around us. The people that we did see, just stared at us, as I'm sure we looked extremely out of place. We would smile, wave, and give the obligatory "Buenos Dias".
These banana plantations are beautiful and we had plenty of time to take in the views. We saw banana and mango trees for as far as we could see. After doing some research, we learned that we were on the Chiquita Banana plantation. Chiapas has the highest production of bananas of anywhere in Mexico and the United States is the largest buyer of these bananas, accounting for 75% of their exports. We learned that the Port of Chiapas exports 250 shipping containers of bananas in a week!That sure is a lot of bananas and after seeing the whole grow operation, we are looking forward to eating more Chiquita bananas.
Sooo back to our morning commute....after 20 minutes another combi came by, which we flagged down. We asked if he was going towards Tapachula...and the answer was no, so we figured we would start walking the way we came. We pulled up our map and we had a 6 hour walk back to the marina, so we crossed our fingers in hopes of getting a ride back to town. A while later, another combi came by and told us we needed to walk about a mile further up the road to get a van going the other direction. We continued walking. All we could do was hysterically laugh about our situation, all the while, sweating profusely.
Once we got to the main road, we found a mango tree with some shade. We waited for about 15 minutes for a combi going in the right direction, thankfully it was the one we needed. It was packed full with other commuters, but we were luckily able to squeeze in. We made our way back to a familiar spot along our route and got off to find another combi to take us the rest of the way to the marina.
A 25 minute commute turned into a 3 hour adventure. In total, we spent $9 USD in combi fairs, which really was a cheap plantation tour, if you look at it that way! Hahaha. Just another day in our lives.
Next up we take some scheduled tours and we prepare Karuna to be hauled out, so we can paint the bottom and tackle some projects.