There’s just something about war paint and strangler fig climbing contests that seems to boost people’s spirits. Mix that with the intense inter-house rivalries and some heated games of Mao, and you’ve got a pretty intense day. And don’t worry, there was some education mixed in there too!
After breakfast we went on a tour of the extensive botanical gardens here, led by our amazing guide Nana.
As we toured the garden, which was absolutely stuffed full to bursting with plants, she pointed out this fig tree.
Fig trees can grow figs from basically anywhere on their trunks and branches, so this tree was just covered with figs! Well, actually, it wasn’t. According to Nana, there wasn’t a single fruit on that tree.
Yeah, I didn’t get it either. So what are all those suspiciously fruit-shaped objects? What did you pick and hold in your hand?
Still confused? Me too. Or I was, until she explained that the fig tree wasn’t pollinated at all since its natural pollinator didn’t live here. No pollination means no seeds, and no seeds means technically no fruit. Everything you see there was all ready to be a fruit, but could never develop the seeds. So not a fruit, but still able to be a delicious snack (once ripe).
I thought the fig was cool, but then she showed us the rooms full of orchids and cacti and carnivorous plants and so much more that’s its easier to just show you.
There was just so much, and I wish I could show it all. But you’ll have to make do with this for now.
So to make up for not giving you every picture I have, I’ve got something particularly interesting. Do you like grass? No? Well what if I told you that bamboo is a grass? More interested? Well then look at this:
Massive bamboo. This stuff was thicker than our heads, and much much taller. Here’s Grant for comparison:
I thought for sure this would be the pinnacle of amazing plants, but the final plant Nana showed us beat the rest easy. Commonly called the Lipstick Plant, its fruits contained seeds that held an orange dye.
And of course, give kids dye and they will inevitably end up with war paint.
I may have taken it a bit past face paint.
We actually ended up wearing this stuff the rest of the day. Don’t worry, it washes off.
After our garden tour with Nana, we had lunch, and then prepared for a hike down to the Ria Java. The weather had other plans though.
I look like a Smurf. Anyway, the rain drove us indoors for a bit, but it let up and we set off!
The path was muddy and wet, so don’t expect to see clean boots anytime soon. But while the hike was great, the best part came here:
This is a strangler fig. Strangler figs grow on trees and gradually overgrow them in a battle for sunlight. So where’s the tree? Well, it died. The strangler grew so much the tree couldn’t take it. The tree decomposed, but the fig still stands.
The inside is a totally hollow circle, and the vines make for great climbing. A literal jungle gym.
We decided to have a climbing competition between the Harry Potter houses we’ve split ourselves into. Grant (Ravenclaw) was the first to make it past the easiest parts to climb, but was surpassed right after by Alex (Slytherin). Jonathan (Gryffindor) proceeded to easily beat Alex, due to him being 7 feet tall and having quite the reach. However, he should have kept trying to go up, because I was next. I (Ravenclaw) made it far past him and secured victory! Or so I thought. Katie (Gryffindor) was able to both make it higher and get down much quicker than me. And so we were down to Eli (Ravenclaw). He was the last climber, and the bar (pardon the pun) was set. Of course, he went easily above and beyond Katie, securing both victory and a whopping 100 points for Ravenclaw. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the score, here’s how it stands:
Hufflepuff: 45 points
After our brief stop, we went on to our final destination: the Rio Java.
Today was packed pretty full. After the hike was dinner, then on to a class on ecorestoration. After that was some time to work on our projects (and for me to work on this post), and then off to bed.
Today was tiring, but fun. We got some great pictures and great memories, and I for one am ready for what tomorrow brings. But for the moment, I’m ready to get some sleep. Goodnight from Costa Rica.