Thursday, April 22, 2010

periquitos en la ciudad

Ayer, mientras estaba haciendo ejercicio en mi gimnasio, vi dos periquitos verdes sentados en la línea de teléfono fuera de la ventana -- apenas diez pies de mi cara. En Costa Rica, incluso en la ciudad, hay pájaros magníficos.

(parecen como esto)

There's also some fun tico slang. "Choza de la momia," which literally means "mummy hut," is slang for the house of the girl you're going out with. Choza is all purpose slang here for house. And momia sounds like "novia," meaning girlfriend. It may also be (not sure I heard this right), that a mummy is a monster, and at times girlfriends can be too.

And now, some new spanish vocabulary:
tiquismos - expressions unique to costa rica
retroalimentación/realimentación - feedback
hipoteca - mortgage
vid - vine
viñedo - vineyard
catar - to taste
catación - tasting
arbitraje - arbitration
maletas - suitcases; muletas - crutches
principio - beginning (as in, a principios de, o al principio)
sin fines de lucro - nonprofit
expectativa - expectation

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Ceiba tree of El Castillo

In El Castillo, Costa Rica, in a meadow near the top of a hill overlooking Lake Arenal, there is a very old ceiba, or kapok, tree.

Ceiba trees can support monuments, grow very large, inspire children's books, and may, according to the Mayans, be dimensional portals.

The Ceiba Foundation describes them as such:

Ceiba pentandra is a majestic tropical tree and appropriate symbol for the complex biological interactions and human connections with the environment that drive our work. The giant limbs of the Ceiba's umbrella-shaped crown are laden with epiphytes (aerial plants) and provide a home for countless species of animals. Birds feed and nest in the tree's high perches, mammals use the enormous limbs as aerial highways, frogs raise their tadpoles in the tiny pools that collect in bromeliads, and insects reach the peak of their diversity in the canopy of giant trees like the Ceiba.

The ancient Maya of Central America believed that a great Ceiba tree stood at the center of the earth, connecting the terrestrial world to the spirit-world above. The long thick vines hanging down from its spreading limbs provided a connection to the heavens for the souls that ascended them.

Seeing the ceiba tree in El Castillo, one understands the thought. We came upon it driving to our hotel Tuesday afternoon. It's tall, really tall, and all by itself, like the rest of the trees back off out of deference (ok, maybe it was just spared a clearing). It's been dead a long time. The inside is hollow and home to a colony of bats. The limbs are covered in mosses, lichen, plants and nesting birds and who knows what. We asked around about its history, and the locals just said it'd been there as long as anyone could remember. I don't know if it's a dimensional portal, but it has an otherworldly vibe.

The morning of Wednesday, March 31, we awoke to some serious rain, and around nine heard what sounded like a soft crash of thunder. Driving down the hill to the Butterfly Conservatory, we saw that the ceiba's tree's large branch had fallen!

That afternoon, we left the car in a ditch on the side of a mud road and passed through a hole in the barbed wire fence to take a look. This demanded much photo-taking.

The fallen branch:

I like moss.

the ceiba tree may have lost a branch, but this is one tree that retains its magic.