Friday, November 28, 2008

Guaraná plant

This guaraná plant (Paullina cupana) is a survivor from the construction of the CELPA power line. Old Man Teixeira and I had planted it right next to a tree for support, maybe four years ago. The power line workers cut the tree, along with several palms in the immediate area. The guaraná ended up at the bottom of the mess. Somehow it survived and now its growing up again.

Floating leaf

This leaf seemed to come to rest in midair. It actually floated down from a nearby tree and came to a stop because a thorn caught it from the underside.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stick insect

This stick insect is a tall, thin character with hidden wings capable of taking it to other parts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Inêz Melo, in memory

I'm remiss in not having reported the death of our neighbor and friend, Professora Inêz Melo, who was one of the oldest residents of Poço Branco, where Bosque Santa Lúcia is located. I met Inêz the first time in 1981, the year we bought the Bosque property. She taught school for more than 50 years before retiring. Her one-room school house was actually located on the Bosque Santa Lúcia property, as was the community chapel, where she conducted religious leadership. In recent years the community moved both the school and the chapel to the village center down the road approximately one kilometer. Inêz was a community worker in the best sense of the word. She had no fear when it came to knocking on the doors of politicians and other persons responsible for the well being of her constituency. I wonder how many trips she must have made from her simple home in Poço Branco to Santarém for this purpose. I got used to seeing her walking the 4-5 kilometers almost on a daily basis. Sometimes we would be going in the same direction, in which case she got a ride all the way home, or out to the highway. Although our road to the Bosque is now closed for the lack of access, that walk has never been a picnic. It's either muddy or dusty. Most truck drivers and other wheelers have no mercy for pedestrians. During the summer time (dry season), they eat dust. During the winter (rainy season) the mud is thick and slick. Then better than a year ago our favorite mud hole presented some serious problems for access, of any kind. The attached image is of Dona Inez getting ready to wade out into what I refer to as Lake Maria. I think we were both walking the road that day, although in different directions. I had taken a bad fall on the other side and I was mud from head to toes. Inez and I had a chat before she got going. She was on her way to the mayor's office for some urgency, maybe to request help in opening up the road. I know that she had made many trips to the city for that reason. A few weeks later she was dead from some respiratory illness. The turnout for her "wake" and funeral was overwhelming because she was a very popular and respected person in the region. The bus and entourage of vehicles bringing her body back to the village could not get through Lake Maria. It was still dry enough, they were able to get through the fallow soybean fields to eventually get to Poço Branco.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I regret to inform future visitors that Bosque Santa Lúcia is now closed for the lack of access. It is only three kilometers from the main highway, BR-163, to our forest reserve, but those few kilometers have taken their toll on me, my car and my business. Those of you who have followed my plight via this blog know that access to the Bosque became difficult more than a year ago. The main culprit is a gigantic mud hole that is taking on the role of a small lake. Appeal to local authorities hasn't hit a nerve as of yet. Representatives from our community of Poço Branco have parked their carcasses at the door of the mayor's office for more than a year. I have talked with the Secretary of Tourism more than once. The most promising contact was one I made with the Secretary of Planning two weeks ago. He's the mayor's brother and the strong man for the local government. He told me that he would open up the road before the heavy rains fall. I followed up my conversation with him by leaving written details of the problem. I'm hopeful that he'll make good his promise. But in the meanwhile, the road is closed and I've returned to my old job with a health organization in order to survive economically. It's actually a delight to be back. My contract calls for half-day workdays, which will allow me to return to Bosque Santa Lucia for some tours. Our Bosque caretaker, Cleuson, continues his work schedule on a regular basis so that we're ready to receive guests, when the road opens again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Despite a few unexpected rains, it's been the normal hot, dry weather of summer time. Dust got so bad from the truck traffic (nothing else can get through), Cleuson and his colleague across the road constructed two lombadas to slow them down. Drivers don't give us any warning they they're about to fill the air with dust, but on the other side of the coin, it's considered proper to warn drivers that there's a spring-breaker coming up. The sign is made up of scrap wood and leftover paint, but I think it's pretty classic. The word "lombada" should not be confused with the world "lambada", which refers to a popular dance of some decades back.

Another lily

A few months ago Dona Olivia gave me some plants, or better said, we traded some plants. I had no idea that some of them were lilies. They became potted plants and I forgot about them. Yesterday, Cleuson mentioned something about flowers near the pump house. To my surprise, the flowers turned out to be a lily. And how beautiful they are!

Friday, November 14, 2008


The fact that we're seeing a few ginger flowers (Costas sp) this time of the year confirms that we've had more rain than normal for the dry season.

Howlers, continued

Well, not really a closeup, but the specs are larger.


Those specs off in the far distance are howler monkeys. They are napping after a very filling meal of flowers and buds of the ipe tree (Tabebuia serratifolia). Next image, a closer view.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Professor Podalyro Amaral

Professor Podalyro Amaral heads up the environmental management courses at IESPES University. I've known him since he was a kid. Son of my friend Hélcio Amaral, he was a Rotary exchange student in the United States for a year when he was in high school. Later he did studies in environmental management in southern Brazil and then returned to Santarém, where he teaches and provides private consultation in the area of his specialization. In the image taken at Bosque Santa Lúcia, he's standing next to a couple of very famous trees in the Amazon, mata-calada (Ryania speciosa).

Environmental management students

We had the pleasure of receiving a group of environmental management students from IESPES University a few days ago. I always have to remind myself that these students are the future backbone for management of the Amazon. Among the group you see in the attached image are biologists, geographers, engineers, environmental managers, administrators and other professionals, some of which already hold government positions in the region. I enjoyed spending Saturday morning with them at Bosque Santa Lúcia. I hope they come back again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cupuaçu, immature

I found this immature cupuaçu fruit on the ground. This happens, much like oranges and other fruits. I'm holding it next to a branch of the tree (Theobroma grandiflorum). Look at the size of those leaves!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Vanilla vine

A closer look at the vanilla vine with its anchor well attached to the trunk of the tree.

Vanilla vine

A new vanilla vine begins its climb up a Spondia tree.

Vanilla beans

A closer look at vanilla fruit with drying up flowers. This is sort of a rarity, because it's seldom that the flowers get pollinated. In all the years I've had vanilla vines at the Bosque, I've only seen two beans. This will be a record productive year!

Vanilla flower

It's been awhile since we seen our vanilla vines in flower, but there are several showoffs now. Notice the fruit of the orchid to the left.

Antioch College

The riverboat, Benjamin, backs away from the dock in front of the city with students from Antioch College and our own IESPES university here in Santarem. All students of the environment, they were heading out for a day on the river system with Gil Serique. It seemed to have been a great day for everyone.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vulture, continued

Ah yes, how sweet it is.

Vulture, continued

Vultures are voracious eaters, but they need water too. There are always several of them having a drink on the edge of Lake Maria.


In past entries I've talked a lot about Lake Maria. What I refer to as a "lake" is actually a mud hole that has grown into what many people believe to be a spring fed body of water. Just recently our federal congressman in Brasilia made the comment to me "Isn't that something? A lake formed right in the middle of the road going to your bosque." Well, it seems that way, but it isn't true. Any mud hole would be dried up this time of the year, but in the case of Lake Maria, the source of water is from the runoff of rain water from BR-163, the federal highway, less than one kilometers away. Once the winter rains begin, we can safely bet that the road will close down completely. Right now it's dry enough that we can detour around to the side. Once again we have appealed to public authorities for help, but I would be surprised if anything gets done before the rains begin.