Meet the blue agave plant

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Adventures & tours

A large, spiny relative of aloe vera, the blue agave is an impressive plant that often grows up to 1.5 metres tall. It's harvested entirely by hand when the plant is mature at six to 10 years old, with some as heavy as 90 kg.

You'll see the jimadors chopping their way through dozens of plants in fields of red volcanic soil. Working with sharp tools, they cleave off the thick, spiny leaves to reveal the core or pina. They then sharpen the flat blade with a file before moving on to the next plant. The work is difficult and dangerous, so the men wear thick leather guards to protect their shins from the sharp blades and denim shirts to guard against the agave's thorns.

The sun is hot and by late morning the workday is done. But the jimadors will be back tomorrow since agave is harvested year-round.