Jun 19

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Brincadores Galore

(Note:  A Survey of the World is simply a report into what is occurring worldwide in terms of natural, cultural, and religious events.  The author does not necessarily endorse any activities, beliefs, or opinions mentioned in each article.  The reader can choose to take each article as a source of either information, entertainment, study, or prayer.)

In our last survey of the world, our great white shark friend directed us to the port city of Guaymas, Mexico, in the northwestern state of Sonora.  We will linger in Sonora, to explore some of the cultural and religious aspects of the area.  Heading southeast from Guaymas, along Route 15 and Route 118, just before the Alamos, lies the quaint town of La Aduana, the self-proclaimed “brincadore” (mexican jumping bean) capital of the world.  Undoubtedly, we have all been in the possession of jumping beans at some point in our lives, either as a Christmas stocking stuffer or as a present from your great aunt and uncle when they visited “Ol’ Mexico”.

The jumping bean is neither bean nor fruit.  It is a modified flower seed pod from one particular type of large desert shrub (Sebastiana pavoniana), which grows only in the states of Sonora and Chihuahua.  The seed pods are comandeered by a certain moth, whose larva hollow out the pods and use them as a temporary home and food source while they undergo their metamorphosis.  This may take several months, and, if the larva lives, it will chew through the lighter colored portion of the “jumping bean” shell and fly away.  Good for the moth, not good for the broken-hearted child whose jumping bean no longer works.

Like a congressman during re-election time, the moth larva will do anything to avoid heat.  The desert heat of Mexico can be particularly deadly.  Inside the seed pod, the larva will twitch when it senses excessive heat and “jump” to find a cooler spot.  Entertainment for us, survival for them.  Jumping beans were very popular and common in the mid twentieth century, less so now since more rigid border controls on plants and animals have put a crimp on sales.  (So much for the NAFTA open border.  Maybe they should put jumping beans in the pockets of illegal immigrants to reinvigorate the industry.)  At one time, over 12 million “beans” were harvested annually.  Today, the annual harvest is only about 2 million beans.  The jumping of the beans has become a popular gambling game in local bars and restaurants, proof positive that you can place a bet on anything.  (The ultimate example of this was during the U.S. Civil War, when bored soldiers bet on the fastest lice crawling across a plate.)  I guess from the diagram, you receive a certain number of points from the number that the bean jumps upon.  To each his own.



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