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  THE TROPICAL RAIN FOREST.
From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.05.01 at 19:42:50(6350)
Dear Friends,

This 'debate' on the love we share for the forest, and the 'dreams' we all
must have to experience it in a pristine state, and the views of some
(correct) of its continued destruction in most areas, has brought to mind
something I have been meaning to write about ( and we all know which road to
where is paved with good intentions) and have been intending to do for a
long time.

[Neil`s, Eduardo`s and finally Jay`s wonderful insights and commentary have
helped me 'carve' this out, and here is one area that is as yet very
assessable, and where some select collecting CAN still be done, and where
the local bureaucrats are fairly tolerant of folks that love plants and
other forms
of life.]

Some of you may be aware that last year May a small group of us Nature
lovers and Aroid nuts made a collecting trip to visit a fellow-member of the
IAS
and a LONG time friend of mine (over 30 years!) 'Joep' Moonen and his family
at their home in French Guiana ( politically correct name for it is now 'La
Guyane'), a 'part' of France tucked on the N.E. coast of Northern South
America, better known for its infamous Devil`s Island, portrayed in the film
'Papillon'. Joep runs a modest eco-tourism guide and tour service called
Emerald Jungle Village' from his home and 'compound' a few
miles outside the capital of Cayenne.
At this point let me say that I have seen, worked in and collected in the
Amazonian Rain
Forest in Ecuador for three years while it was still in its pristine state,
and having been
born on the W.I. Island of Trinidad, which in actuality is an extention of
the S.American rain forest, am WELL aware of Tropical Jungles.
Our experience in Fr. Guyana was a REAL eye-opener, as my first and lasting
impression of the Fr. Guyana jungles and rivers that Joep expertly and
safely guided
us into and around was---
'BIGGER, MORE LUSH, WETTER, GREENER, MORE LIFE"---I could go on!!!!
I am running out of ways to describe the experience we had in this FANTASTIC
place, so I think I will just try a few snippets from my field notes that
MAY give all of you out there 'jonesing' for the jungle a 'taste' of what it
was like---

Boating up a clear water creek tannin-stained dark brown, heavy current,
banks
lined with buttress-rooted trees, wonderfully sculpted roots, branches
meeting overhead like the arches in a cathedral, MANY blue morpho
butterflies passing us by, their all-blue colors 'popping' like metallic,
sky-blue flash bulbs as they crossed shafts of sunlight, these roots
interspaced with stands of Montrichardia, rare sightings of BIG Urospathas
from time to time, the flash of fresh-water hatchet fish skittering/flying
across the waters surface in small shafts of sunlight between the naked
branches of a fallen tree, like diamonds thrown and scattered across the
tea-colored water---a big racer-type snake, colored jet-black and rich
purple, coiled on the end of a tree-trunk fallen through the river-bank
thicket, highlighted in a solitary shaft of sunlight--

Driving along the highway in the Kaw mountains, several species of morpho
butterflies crossing the road, then the 'wash' of the car ahead of us
disrupts the weak, almost gliding flight of a VERY rare giant female Morpho
hecuba, sending her crashing to earth. We stop and rescue her,
photographing her 8" brown-and-black wingspread as she recovers her
'dignity'
on a leafy branch, to slowly glide/flutter off on a light current of air!
Later that morning on our return walk from seeing Anthurium moonenii in the
wild, walking in a cool, steady rain along a path on one side of a valley,
giant tropical jungle bull-frogs (Leptodactylus pentadactylus) calling from
time to time, their mournful LOUD solitary call 'HOOP' echoing back and
forth across the valley, very dream-like, then a distant rain and wind
storm sends a giant tree SLOWLY crashing through the jungle to earth,
the sound terrifying in it`s intensity--

Standing, teary-eyed in awe, near the foot of a HUGE buttressed-root tree
deep in the jungle (only one of many seen), bigger and taller than any I
had ever seen, SO big that I have to take two photos, one of the tree`s
base itself, and another with Joep half-hidden behind a buttress to give
scale to this true giant-- gnarled and twisted vines the thickness of a
man`s thigh disappearing up into the almost-infinity of it`s height!---

Driving along a road/highway (the French are famous for their GOOD roads!)
through jungle, looking down into a sparsely vegetated swampy area and
spotting my FIRST specimen of Anaphyllopsis americana, screaming 'STOP,
STOP!!!' Later on that day discovering and collecting some BIG beautiful
Dracontiums, AND several species of Philodendron, a RARE sp. of
Dieffenbachia in fruit, Xanthosoma granvilli, other rare Aroids, Cyclanths,
too numerous to mention, all done carefully and NOT in excess at Joep`s
guidance, taking only tip cuttings where possible, removing and leaving
bulbils of the Dracontiums to regenerate the plants that we did decide to
collect--

Walking in a light drizzle a LONG way down a trail in the Kaw Mts. to
a WONDERFUL Aladdin`s' cave, rain, WONDERFUL plants all along
the way, amazon parrots calling over
head, small 'crocodile' lizard seen within the cave and captured by 'Dr.
Burns', Joep`s youngson and 'right hand man', then photographed and
released,
rare Dieffenbachia and Xanthosomas at the cave, tip cuttings collected.
WONDERFUL Bromeliad sps. all along the path, a few collected.
Later that evening back at camp, relaxing with one of Joep`s wife Marijka`s
rum
cocktails, looking up at a night sky with more stars against a dark sky
than I have EVER
seen, then an approaching strong thunderstorm lighting everything up like
day---

So my friends, there are still a few areas out there that can impress even
an old jaded fool like myself!!!!
Thanks for your indulgence--

Sincerely,

Julius Boos

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