We have many cane fields in the vicinity, and harvest is in full swing. The government here passed an edict that burning off the cane (the old way of ridding the stalks from dry flack, and insects and snakes) was taboo. A couple of nights ago, the smell of smoke penetrated the air, and that’s against the policy of the government. The next morning, the veranda and all the grass around the place was littered with burnt crisp fibre and it was a mess to try to clean up. Last night it was smoke again, and this morning, not so much carbon fragments, but the wind must have carried them further afield.
I hope they finish quickly around here, because the smoke is difficult to handle. It is typical of the workmen to do the burning when people are in bed and too settled to telephone any authorities. We are so far out into the country that it would be miraculous if anyone of authority should just happen onto the fact that they are burning. I am concerned that the fire could jump into something that is more important than the cane field. The country has been without rain for a long time, and all growth is dry. I would be distressed to see another California going on in this green oasis.
Cane cutting is very low on the employment scale, and I think a lot of migrant workers from Nicaragua come into the country to do the labour. It is similar to the Mexicans coming across the border into the U.S. to do the work in the vegetable and fruit fields. In Canada, a lot of the field labour is done by people from Asia, mostly from India. Then the first thing that we realize is that they have worked hard, pooled their resources and have purchased a big home with thirty people from their family living together. They are accustomed to living that way. I haven’t been in Costa Rica long enough to find out if the people from Nicaragua do a similar practice.