Carlos Luis Fallas is the author of Mamita Yunai, Gentes y gentecillas, and Mi Madrina and the winner of the Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón in 1965, the year of his passing. Fallas, who worked on the United Fruit Company’s banana plantations and organized workers there, is known for his championing of the working class. This principle comes through in “In the Shadow of the Banana Tree,” the story featured in Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.
“In the Shadow of the Banana Tree” is an excerpt from Mamita Yunai, and as such, the story does not follow a strict plot, but rather provides color and life to the speaker, his friends Herminio and Calero, the Nicaraguan foreman, Pancho, and the others who join Pancho’s work crew to “open a great swath through the mountains” to carry a train loaded with bananas.
From waking up while still dark and eating rice, beans, and bananas served by Pancho’s wife, to trudging through the forest for a day filled with manual labor and then going to the river to catch machacas and bobos, Fallas details the everyday joys and drudgeries of this cheerful working group.
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