I woke up early in Amazonas and went for a walk to enjoy some quiet time before the workshop participants brought their lively energy to Paquita’s house for breakfast. I strolled out to the bank overlooking the Marañon River, and the shapes that caught my eye were large dangling banana flowers. For the next twenty minutes, I wandered from plant to plant in this small grove to appreciate how the color and size of the leaves, fruits, and trees changed over time.
Most Americans are only familiar with the heads of banana fruits they find in a grocery store. I was fascinated to see tiny inch long fruits neatly packed in a giant spear-like red flower head. Above them were bunches of more developed and familiar green fruits.
This grove included several types of plantains which all need to be cooked to eat. One of them is called “sapucho” which is primarily grown to feed to pigs, but it has the advantage of being more resistant to flooding than other varieties preferred for human consumption.
I appreciated seeing varied shades of fresh green leaves spotted with droplets of morning dew contrasted against the rusty mottled brown of leaves that were well past their prime. Intersecting ragged leaf edges formed triangular views of the ground below. Bees were collecting pollen from mature flowers, and ants were collecting sap oozing from tiny wounds.
If my friend Alfred Quarto were there, he might have composed a poem about the scene, but I was content to use my cell phone camera to record my naturalist stroll among the bananas with the hope my revery would not be broken by stepping on a snake hiding under the fallen leaves. Someone had recently found a shushupe (tropical rattle snake) hanging out near one of the village houses.
When Elle came into our booth, she immediately spotted our yellow Papilio butterfly ornament. I asked her about her attraction to this craft and learned an emotional backstory which she generously consented to let me share.