Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mario's in Town!

This week our volunteers were lucky enough to meet botanical brainbox Mario Garcia Quesada (or Rasta to those who know him), a Costa Rican who was Station Manager at our expedition’s old Caño Palma home for five years and has devoted his life to studying indigenous plant use and rainforest botany.

Mario lead volunteers and staff around the station’s garden and identified over 60 plant species and their medicinal and other uses. This increased under¬standing of local flora will greatly help us in creating interpretation booklets and signs for around base.

Mario also took staff and volunteers on an epic forest walk, and apparently had a story for every plant in the forest. “I think my favourite part was the tree called ‘the crocodile tree’ which gives sap that tastes like marshmallows!’ said ten-weeker Håvard.

Termite tasting was also included in the tour, producing a range of opinions as to the flavour: ‘Herby; like oregano’ said Molly. ‘I’d go for mixed herbs with a little pepper,’ added mammal monitor Jo. ‘They’d make a really good salad gar¬nish, suggested Jeremy.
For those not keen on eating creepy crawlies, a range of other edibles was discussed, plus survival aids such as the water vine.

Mario also showed us the best fire lighting materials which included the dry interior of a termite’s nest (also a mosquito repellent when burnt) and a tree with flammable sap.
We love Mario’s visits, and he was im¬mediately enthusiastic about our new expedition home. We hope to welcome him again in the near future.