Colour, diversity, and pura vida
- it's all here in Costa Rica!
Fifty-two species of hummingbird. A mind-boggling variety of butterflies. Over 20,000 different spiders. When it comes to natural diversity few places on Earth can top Costa Rica. This tiny country, whose Pacific and Atlantic coastlines are just 70 miles apart, is where Fyffes has been working with local growers for many years to produce delicious bananas, melons and pineapples. It’s a truly remarkable place – let’s take a closer look…
"I love walking in nature and closing my eyes," says Hazel Wilkinson, who recently completed the Fyffes Graduate Program in Costa Rica. "The monkeys, the sound of the waterfalls, all the different bird songs – it’s overwhelming. At the end of a long hike there’s nothing better than arriving at a waterfall or thermal spring and jumping in for a dip." Hazel joined the Fyffes Graduate Program in 2016. She spent about six months on Fyffes farms where she learned about how our fruit is cultivated and nurtured.
Another happy resident of Costa Rica is Hugo Hays. Hugo is head of food safety, CSR and sustainability at Fyffes - so it’s not surprising that he enjoys exploring nature in his spare time. The native Uruguayan has lived in Costa Rica with his family for many years.
"I was amazed to discover that even oak trees grow in Costa Rica,” says Hugo. “And they grow to enormous size – some up to 50 meters high, with acorns the size of my hands." Hugo loves taking his children to Costa Rica’s many national parks where they can explore the country’s rich biodiversity. “Costa Rica is a wonderful place for my kids to live. The national parks teach them how precious nature is and why we need to protect it.”
Did you know that Costa Rica is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world? About one-quarter of its land is officially protected so as not to upset the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Nearly all of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable sources including hydroelectric, wind and solar. They even use geothermal energy from volcanoes!
For Hugo, looking out for the environmental is close his heart and he makes sure that all Fyffes fruits are certified by the Rainforest Alliance and cultivated with the greatest respect for nature and for the local community.
The finest things in life
In Costa Rica you find colour and diversity everywhere you look. Not only in the rainforest but in the kitchen, too. Fried plantains are a major delicacy in this country and they come in a whole range of varieties – so there’s something for everyone. Some like them crispy, while others like them softly cooked.
Jürgen is a creative chef who divides his time between Germany and Costa Rica. He is always on the lookout for inspiration. His job is to discover emerging food trends – the things we will eventually see on magazine covers and in recipe books.
When he is not hunting for delicacies Jürgen takes full advantage of Costa Rica’s surf spots. And after a long day riding the waves, what could be better than a seafood barbeque? It’s one of the most popular meals in this tiny Central American nation.
"It’s such a contrast to our hectic lives in Europe,” says Jürgen. “There’s a beautiful simplicity here, just living in harmony with nature." Jürgen likes to start his day with huevos rancheros, a classic Central American dish made of corn tortillas, eggs, and beans, topped with a spicy salsa. It’s the perfect breakfast to fuel you up for a long day of hiking or surfing.
In Costa Rica less is often more and that’s especially true when it comes to eating. "I was surprised to discover that in many Latin American countries you eat two meals per day instead of three," says Hazel. The 27-year-old has fallen in love, not only with the fried plantains, but also with Costa Rican coffee. “When I go home to Ireland, I often bring bags of coffee with me. It tastes simply great here.”
For those planning a trip to this country, Hugo has a piece of advice: try a Fyffes Gold pineapple fresh from the field. “When it’s just been harvested, the fruit has such an intense, sweet flavour. I couldn’t believe it at first.”
Pura vida – this is living!
You can’t quite see it, but you feel it in your bones. Pura vida is a kind of national philosophy in Costa Rica. Literally, it means “pure life” and it describes the positive, simple attitude of the Costa Ricans. Above all, Hugo loves the dry and charming sense of humour in this country. And you have to admire their passion for football. In 2014, the Costa Rican national team made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup – an historic achievement that electrified the whole country.
Costa Rica is a land rich in unexpected treasures: its nature, its food, its happy-go-lucky locals. And you can taste the magic of this country in every piece of our fruit. Take a bite and experience the pura vida for yourself. Fyffes. Discover More.