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It’s official… June 20, 2015

Posted by stinawp in Uncategorized.
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June 3, 2015

The park parataxonomist* thinks my handshake is funny. When he came to the station last year to identify some of the plants my caterpillars eat, our introductory handshake seemed to turn into one of those extended squeezing contests that supposedly establishes which of the participants is the stronger guy. Since a) I’m not a guy, b) he’s at least six feet tall, and c) his hand could cover most of my head, I had a little trouble believing that a firm handshake from me was enough to set off a strength contest. Maybe he just crushes everyone’s hands.

However, we went over to the rangers’ station for a celebratory dinner tonight and I can now make a definitive report: it was a squeezing contest. When we shook hands this time, I got a firm, non-crushing handshake. Afterwards, he made a fist, said “duro” (hard), and laughed. At least I’m memorable?

Speaking of memorable, he also gave us nance fruit to try. I find asking for English names for a lot of the fruits here pretty useless—either they don’t have one, or they won’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t already familiar with tropical fruits. Nance, as far as I can find, doesn’t have an English name. Each fruit was about the size of a gumball, yellow, and mostly seed. The texture and taste were unique: mealy apple with an undertone of overripe orange. To be fair, these were reportedly a little under-ripe, but I’m not feeling very motivated to give them a second chance.

* A parataxonomist is someone who isn’t formally trained as an academic taxonomist but is extremely experienced at identifying specimens. An academic taxonomist is usually an expert on particular families of plants (or insects); a parataxonomist is usually an expert on the plants (or insects) in a particular area. This parataxonomist literally wrote the book on the trees of Palo Verde.

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