Costa Rica News – As you are enjoying your tamales this holiday season, do you wonder where exactly the leaves come from?
A little known fact is that they mostly come from indigenous Cabécar families from Limón.
These families, men, women, children and even pets, work tirelessly this season to cut and prepare the product which they sell for about ¢140 per kilo. It is later sold in San Jose for up to ¢1,500.
They work from sunrise to late in the afternoon, wearing long sleeved clothes to protect from mosquitoes. They speak very little, careful not to waste time. This activity can earn them ¢60.000 a day, an amount that will greatly help them through the first few months of the year. The rest of the year, the demand is much lower.
They use the jute plant because banana leaves are less flexible due to chemicals used in fumigations. Jute is smaller with no fruit.
About 500 people are dedicated to this work. The lucky ones sell their crop to Grace Alvarez, who resells them to most national supermarkets and even exports them. She pays up to ¢250 a kilo whereas those who come with 4x4s to collect the product from others offer only ¢80 a kilo, at times, insisting the product is not selling well in San Jose.