This article is from the June 1996 The Mexico File newsletter.
Back to Articles List

Los Brincadores

Flonda has its oranges, Bordeaux its grapes, Los Angeles its gang-bangers. And although Alamos has its colonial arehitecture, it is more renowned for the world-wide distribution of the Mexican jumping bean (brincadores). And its not really a bean - it just looks like one.

Herets the way it works. A small moth lays its eggs on the flower of a shrub called the Sebastiana palmieri. After the egg hatches, the baby caterpillar buries itself in the plant's developing seed pod. As the pod grows, it closes up around the comatose caterpillar, leaving it trapped inside. Eventually the caterpillar builds a tiny web, and by yanking on it he makes the pod (bean) jump. Its next stop could be Hong Kong or Atlantic City, wherever the jumping bean marketplace has a paying customer in need of a novelty.

This little circus act of nature takes place exactly twenty days after the first rain of the season, usually in June. The hotter it gets, the more they jump. This will continue for three to six months before the caterpillar mutates into a moth and, alas, finds freedom.

The "beans" can be found all over the surrounding hills of Alamos, and have developed into a bit of a cash cow for the locals. Alamos is the "jumping bean capital" of the world. They don’t grow anywhere else. So there you have another reason to visit Alamos in the summer – no gringos in the streets and the hills alive with jumping beans.