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Tropical Interlude

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sick and tired of winter? Me, too. As ready as I was for warm weather and sun, it would have been a shock to be plunged right into the close heat and humidity of lowland Peten, Guatemala. Because Bill and I had to cut our Guatemala trip short to run back to a pre-existing festival commitment in Nebraska, we planned to start the trip with a few days at Los Tarrales, not far from Lake Atitlan, in the higher elevations.

Perfect. That's all I can say. Weather, upper 80's. Sun. Humid breeze. The inside of my nose, which had become a single large scab thanks to the winter furnace heat, was healed by the next day. Here I was in a T-shirt, the warm breeze playing over my bare skin. Oh, it was heaven. Everywhere, green and pink and red and magenta and yellow and orange, flowers in profusion, and the hummingbirds to go with them. Birds everywhere.Los Tarrales (The Bamboos) is a multi-puprose property, which combines ecotourism, banana and shade coffee plantations, floriculture and houseplant production in one alluring bundle. Here's the coffee processing plant, which gives forth mysterious whooshing sounds in the evening. Coffee beans are spread out in a single layer on the large courts in the foreground, and raked until they're sun-dried. Tourists are sometimes found drying here, too.

Here's the flower of a coffee plant. It has the light fragrance of citrus, combined with the scent of fresh mimeo paper. Ahhhhh. I couldn't stop burying my nose in coffee flowers.
Speaking of flowers, how's this for a flower? Behold the banana flower, bigger than any showerhead and twice as weird. The baby bananas are forming on the stalk already.Just a few yards beneath the blossom, a small yellowish dot resolved into a bird. (The lowest, tattered leaf is pointing right at it).

It was a yellow-bellied flycatcher, a boreal bird which nests in the stunted black spruces of Canadian bogs. I bet her nose was crusty inside when she arrived, too.

The tropical sun reached deep into her feathers, and she slowly succumbed to its charms.
I had been doing exactly the same thing since arriving the night before. Ahhh, ahh, ahh.
Oh, it's so good to be a bit overheated, to feel the Vitamin D., so good to cheat winter of a few days. Soon enough, she'd head back to the muskeg, and I'd head back to my breeding habitat, too.

But for now, we were sunning. Here, I'm exulting in one of the world's tallest orchids, the bamboo orchid, Arundina graminifolia, native to southeast Asia, but growing quite happily, rooted in the ground at Los Tarrales. Though only a couple of hundred plants survive in its native Singapore, elsewhere I've read that it can be a real pest, self-seeding like crazy. It's used as cattle fodder in Hawaii, where it's firmly established (read: a thug, if an orchid can be a thug.) Still, I was thrilled to be dwarfed by an orchid! So's Liz!

I am making a customarily potent fashion statement, with my flattering, crap-laden photo vest, but at least the pants go down to the shoes. Life is Good T's are all I packed, on purpose.

Delicate, cattleya-like flowers nodded at the tips of the tall stems. I'll be back tomorrow, with more tropical fun and basking at Los Tarrales. 


Life is Good, indeed!

Check yer email, Trix!

Hi Julie, found your blog through another and it's great!! Haven't gotten completely through it yet but will. Love the photos. I am going to link you on my blog.

Oh I'm even more sorry I missed Tarrales.

Thanks for the get-away! How wonderful to see you beneath a giant orchid with sweet flycatchers.
It seems you've enjoyed the heat!

Great photos, love your stylish pants. Too much to comment on here.

"The inside of my nose, which had become a single large scab thanks to the winter furnace heat", Glad your nasal passages are healed ;o) You are too funny.

Thanks for the glimpse. It was a nice retreat for me and I look forward to more.

Sorry to say, scabby again. Snarf, snarf. What is it this blog has again? Oh yeah. Lots of personal stuff about Julie's nose, kids, and especially her pet dog.

Hi Julie, do you know that "La Flor del Café" (The Coffee Flower) is the title of a quiet nice melody on marimba, the national musical instrument of Guatemala?

I´m sorry you and BT3 missed it as part of the music played at the farewell dinner. Maybe next year. Thanks for comming again to the country of the eternal spring.

Stop making me laugh. It's past my bedtime :o) Snarf Snarf.

HugoHugoHugo! I'm honored that you would get a Google account just to say hi! Stay tuned for more posts on your lovely country.

Wow, contrasted with Beauty on Ice previously, this is manna from heaven! Ahhhhh.... love even SEEING the warmth and beauty of the gimongous orchid. Sweet, sweet little flycatcher too. Wish we'd been there with you!

Like Mary, I loved the nose comment--so true though. Super shots of the flycatcher! Central America is on my list of places to go still. I look forward to seeing more about your trip. Chet Baker is adorable--I grew up with a Boston, but have Dobes now.

Great post!
Lovely pictures! I've been around banana trees last weekend!

My node is awl duffed up. Can I go douth like you?

Wow, Guatemala, Zick, and my high-school pal Lizard! What a great trip!

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