In January 1933, Einstein did go bananas. Well he did drive up to the towns of Esperanza in the Chiriqui province of Panama. Briefly, he toured some of the huge banana growing farms run by the United Fruit Company (later Chiquita Bananas) Historian, and UFCO employee Mark Trafton met the great scientist during this rain filled journey. He drove the car that day over the rough and rocky road north.
What was this trip really about?
There was a newspaper report of the Einstein's arriving in Panama but then the reports stopped. We do know they continued their trip to Puerto Armuelles in January of 1933. They travelled by car to the small town of Esperanza and were driven back to Puerto by UFC director Mark Trafton Jr. (The Mark Trafton Papers) later, they left Puerto on the USS Oakland bound for California.
Why would the Einsteins drive through the rain for about an hour on rough pot holed roads to see a banana plantation?
We still do not have a definitive answer for that.
Hank Blair was head of the United Fruit Company in Panama at that time. He was reportedly also a Freemason. Until the 1960's a Masonic lodge existed close to Blair house. However, This reporter has learned from his friends in the CRAFT, that Einstein was NOT a mason.
Einstein was definitely involved in setting up a 'underground" railway for German Jewish intellectuals and musicians fleeing Nazi persecution.
The United Fruit Company did have passengers on their empty returning banana boats from Europe and there is evidence that these were used by Jewish families escaping persecution. (See story on "Sixty Year Embrace.")
This turned out to be the last voyage of the Oakland as it appears it was scrapped in California after this voyage.