Sunday, October 14, 2007

Generous gestures...

What motivates a person to offer a traveler a meal, a drink, or a room?

From my family and friends to people I have just met and conversed with - both American and Mexican - I have had the honor and privilege to be the recipient of many generous gestures.

Last Monday, I met half of an expatriate Texan couple. Mrs. Smith was traveling with some friends to the El Cielo biosphere reserve, where I was conducting a marginally successful search for chiles. We happened to be staying at the same hotel. After a conversation with their group over dinner, I was invited to the Smith's Ranch - Ranch El Rayo (they have a web page - in eastern Tamulipas to search for wild peppers. Without hesitation I accepted and headed for their ranch a few days later. There was a catch. Due to the head high grass and weeds (and the high number of ticks and snakes) that are a result of a heavy rain season, we would go by horse. I'm not much of a horseman. In fact, I would choose most modes of transport before choosing horseback. But there wasn't any other option.

They saddled a beautiful horse for me, named Aquarius (which happens to be my astrological sign). As you can see by the photo below - the growth and underbrush was incredibly thick. The previous afternoon, we ventured through a small portion to find a chile plant - In about 10 minutes of exposure (and with substantial repellent applied) I returned to find 5 ticks in various parts of my clothing.

Here are a couple of shots with me going through the process of collecting the data and the ripe fruits upon finding a plant.

Here is a close-up of the flower and immature fruits.

And since this post has turned into a little photo show, here's one from the El Cielo biosphere reserve. I took the day off and did some hiking. The clarity of the water was absolutely striking.

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