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Going Bananas in the Tropics

The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.  -Thomas Jefferson

Twenty years ago I was substantially more tranquilo in the act of smuggling than I would be today. With nary an afterthought as to the possible consequences, I waltzed unscathed through immigration and customs at Juan Santamaria International Airport with a dozen ‘pups’ of banana plants, artfully ensconced among the colorful clothing in my 7 year-old daughter’s suitcase. Jefferson’s point of view may not have been foremost in my mind, but I was definitely on the road to ‘going bananas.’

Individuals with a firmer grasp of reality might have taken the time to notice that there is probably a reason why the large banana producing areas in Costa Rica are not located in Guanacaste. Six months of “the seasonal equivalent of the Sahara” puts the broad, delicate leaves through the proverbial shredder and the water-filled pseudostem, what we think of as the trunk, takes a severe hit due to evaporative losses in our verano. And that’s part of how I evolved into a smuggler.

In Grave Danger of Falling Food

The title is borrowed from a documentary film about Permaculture: a design approach to developing food production systems which have the stability, productivity and resilience of natural ecosystems.

In truth, my own relationship with permaculture has followed a decidedly non-linear course. In the late ‘70s a good friend forwarded a copy of Permaculture I, the book that was to spawn a global movement. That volume lay moldering in a trunk for two years while I globe-trotted in search of the unridden waves of Santosha and a few other remote destinations. Once having ‘been there and done that’ it was back to the books and hands into the soil.

Through the Looking Glass

Oh what a wicked web we weave….. (Sir Walter Scott)

It’s like déjà vu all over again. For anyone who wasn’t so drugged out and asleep at the wheel during the political and social ferment of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, these lyrics resonated deeply with your personal experiences.

There’s something happening in here,
What it is ain’t exactly clear…
Paranoia strikes deep,
Into your life it will creep.
Start’s when you’re always afraid
Step outta’ line, the Man comes
And takes you away.

OK, so now it’s like flash back time. You don’t even have to step out of line, ‘cause we now know that ‘the Man”, may in fact, be listening to you on the phone, checking out your doings on You Tube, looking at what you searched for on Google, etc., etc., etc., across the spectrum of information technologies that we use every day.

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