Saturday, July 07, 2007


The first time I ever heard of rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) was here in Santarém at João Sena's jewelry shop, maybe three years ago. The master goldsmith was nibbling away at one of the spiny red fruits, which are originally from southeast Asia. He offered a couple to me and I have to admit that they tasted better than I had expected. The second time I heard of rambutan was at Rose Dalton's home. Rose is an ex-pat American, who spent a good part of his life as a Franciscan brother at the diocese in Santarém. In the early 1980s love for a local girl got the best of him and he ended up getting married. He and his wife, Rosângela have two beautiful kids, the oldest of which lives in the United States. To gossip a bit, Rose hails from the state of Tennessee, where he had the honor of knowing Elvis Presley personally as young man. He tells the story of having double-dated with Elvis before his rock and roll fame. Our visit to see Rose that day was to see how he was doing after his surgery for vascular ailments. I had taken a young Phoenix palm as a present and on our way out, Rosângela reciprocated by giving me the rambutan seedling you see in the image. It was in a vase at the Bosque for more than a year but this last rainy season I moved it to the ground. It's growing and doing very well.

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