The green fields of the banana plantations that populate the Canary Island of Gran Canaria provide a pleasing contrast with the blue seas that surround it.
Bananas in Gran Canaria
It is known that bananas originated in South-East Asia and were cultivated and eaten for thousands of years before large-scale commercial production began in the early nineteenth century. The Spaniards brought the banana to the Canary Islands where they have flourished ever since. There are over one hundred varieties of this herb (the largest in the world) and the most popular one of several that are grown in Gran Canaria is called the plátano, a reference to the wide leaves of the banana plant. Hacienda La Rekompensa, a finca (country estate) in Arucas offers its visitors an informative guided tour.
Hacienda La Rekompensa in Gran Canaria
My fascinating tour of Hacienda La Rekompensa began with a walk through a patch of banana plants surrounding the traditional Canarian house that dates back to 1804. Although the hacienda has been restored it retains the original architectural characteristics of the period in which it was built. I was delighted when our guide found a plant in full bloom. Its massive bloom was about to start dropping the large petals to allow the seeds beneath (tiny bananas) to start growing. As we walked through the plant-lined groves we saw different varieties of bananas all at different stages of development and learnt some fascinating facts about them. For example, each plant only produces fruit once and after that it is cut down. Banana plants ‘wander’ as they develop from suckers which can appear anywhere around the plant.
Thirteen different varieties of banana plants are grown here including the Plátano Canario a special type of banana which grows on the Canary Islands. Generally, the three different types of this variety are shorter than their South American relatives, and a lot sweeter. this is due to the sunny climate on the island and the fruit being allowed to ripen fully before it is harvested. The hacienda at the centre of the planation incorporates a small museum which traces the history of the cultivation of the banana on Gran Canaria and includes some traditional tools and machinery.
After my tour I was invited to try some banana-based products. These included some banana based chutneys and jams dribbled on slivers of cheese, banana wine, a banana liqueur and a banana dessert. Sitting outside in the sun it was a lovely way to conclude my visit to Hacienda La Rekompensa
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.