Find Mangos

(contributed by Carolina de Solar, from Lima, Peru)

My whole family is into growing mangoes. We were told that they first came from la India, but one would think that they are native of Peru, since they grow so well here, better than anywhere else. It's very hot and dry in these parts of Lambayeque, these valleys were made for mangoes! But back in '98 we lost everything, when El Nino came.

My brother Jacinto and I have six hectares planted with the red ones. One has to know the exact moment when to harvest so they will travel well to the planta. There our mangoes are put into a hot bath before they put little stickers on them and send them to los Estados Unidos in boxes. My niece works in the planta, selecting which mangoes are perfect and which are not.

My mother has a bit of land further up. She only grows the traditional varieties, those smaller yellow ones with a pith which is too big for its size and are very fibrous.

We used to tell her to get rid of them, to plant the new kinds, the ones the gringos like. Thank God she didn't. After El Nino came and took everything away we used her little hairy mangoes to injertar and start all over again.

Have you ever tried a mango-papaya? Those grow in the ceja de selva ( where the Andes start becoming jungle). Now, those are the king of all mangoes.

When you see them, all green, the size of a papayita, you think: this is too green and hard to be ripe and sweet! I can't eat it yet!

And then you cut a slice and try it. You can't believe it, you have never tasted anything so good.

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