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Entries in Selva Maya (23)


The Pyramid at Tres Garantias

There are still hundreds of Mayan pyramids hidden in the forests of Quintana Roo. One of these is located very close to where we banded some growth trees in Tres Garantias (see Selva Maya II and Selva Maya III). It's hard to capture this type of thing in a video, but look for the square cut stones, the arch, and the interior room. The seedlings shown at the end are, not surprisingly, Brosimum alicastrum (see The Curious Case of Brosimum alicastrum). [NOTE: Thanks to Luis Chai for showing this to us].



During the Caste War of Yucatan in the 1850s, the Icaiche Maya formed a large settlement called Chichanhá hidden away in the jungles of Quintana Roo - very near to Caoba, one of the ejidos that we are working with to measure tree growth in the Selva Maya (see Selva Maya III).  On one of our trips to Caoba, they took us to see the ruins of Chichanhá. Huge chicozapote (see Chicozapote) trees, the screams of howler monkeys, the crumbled walls of an indigenous rebellion.  Nobody said much as we walked through these ruins...

Village life on these limestone substrates was largely determined by the availability of water.  To this end, the Icaiché had dug and walled an extremely deep cistern (shown below). [NOTE:  We tossed in a couple of rocks, but we never heard them hit the bottom.  This is a deep, deep hole].




Sawmill at Tres Garantias

The ejido at Tres Garantias had just bought a portable sawmill, and I stopped by to watch them square-up some logs.  As shown in the image below, the sawyer is clearly having the time of his life. [NOTE: There are some glitches here. The sawmill they purchased was designed to be used with conifers, not tropical hardwoods, and several dozen bands, i.e. saw blades, have already snapped].


Lunch at Doña Olga's

We let her know a day in advance that we were coming to Tres Garantias and she prepared us a delicious spread of rice, beans, tortillas, and caldo de pollo.  Truly a great lunch. [NOTE: That's Doña Olga serving up the food. The sign on the refrigerator reads "This home is Catholic. We don't accept propaganda from Protestants or other sects. Viva Christ the King. Viva the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of God". We didn't talk about tree growth or religion during lunch].


Radiator Cap

Last week, when I was checking the growth bands around the caoba (Swietenia macrophylla King) trees in the forest outside of Noh-Bec, we used an old pick-up truck belonging to the father of our local collaborator, Gustavo Martinez. Sturdy truck, over 20 years old.  Only problem was that it didn't have a radiator cap and we had to keep stopping to pour in water every time the motor overheated. Which happened a lot on the ride back to the village. [NOTE: That's Gustavo in the video clip.  When we finally made it back to Noh-Bec, his family served us a delicious tamale lunch with cheese pie for dessert. Mil gracios a la familia Martinez]  


Doña Olga's Orchid Tree

When I am working in the forests of Tres Garantias in Quintana Roo, I always try to have lunch with Doña Olga (more on this later).  Besides the delicious frijoles, there is a Terminalia tree in front of her house that is festooned with orchids. There are, at least, ten different species growing on this tree, all collected from the forest and subsequently given to Doña Olga (probably because of the frijoles). The one shown above is Prostechea cochleata Knowles & Westc. [NOTE: M. en C. Antonio Sierra identified the orchid (thx, Toño); Luis Chai set up the lunch date (thx, Luis)].



This is one of the last, really huge, caoba (Swietenia macrophylla King) trees in the Selva Maya of Quintana Roo. It is growing in the (managed) forest outside of Noh-Bec, one of the ejidos that we have been working with to measure the growth of local timber species (see Selva Maya, Selva Maya II, and Selva Maya III). What is not so apparent in the video is that this majestic tree lost most of it's crown to Hurricane Dean (see Selva Maya Interrupted) - and probably won't be an active member of the forest much longer. [NOTE: I am posting this from Terminal 2 in the Mexico City airport on my way home after a productive (and very fun) trip to Chetumal (thx, Silvia)].



A large chicozapote (Manilkara zapote L. Royen) tree in the Selva Maya of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Like the ramon tree (see The Curious Case of Brosimum alicastrum), chicozapote was a favored forest resource to the pre-Columbian Maya.  The timber was used for lintels and supporing beams in their temples, the ripe fruits were relished, and the dried latex, known as "chicle", was used as a masticatory. In 1866, General Antonio López de Santa Anna (best known for his involvement in the battle of the Alamo) gave a small piece of chicle resin to the son of Thomas Adams while in Staten Island awaiting clearance to return to his country.  The rest is history.


Misplaced Hotei

This somewhat battered, styrofoam Hotei Buddha was seen sitting out in the middle of an agricultural field while driving to Felipe Carrillo Puerto in Quintana Roo, Mexico.  I later got the story that villagers from a nearby community had carved it for their carnival day the year before, and then Hurricane Dean (see Selva Maya Interrupted) blew it into the field.  And there it sat. Smiling. May all beings be happy. 


Street Food in Chetumal

The city of Chetumal in Quintana Roo, Mexico is the entry point to the Selva Maya (see Selva Maya, Selva Maya II, Selva Maya III, and Selva Maya Interrupted).  Lot of delicious food available on the street at night.  The elotes smeared with mayonaise, queso fresco, and chili powder are my favorites. [NOTE: In spite of what the lady said, the chili habanero powder was - of course - killer hot.]