Bahamas trip: Day 11

July 1st, 2009

It is my last day in the Bahamas, for now. After breakfast I have just enough time to walk out to the North Point, where I hear tell there might be some San Salvador rock iguanas, a critically endangered subspecies. It seems that some of them may have swum across the harbor from the cay where the main local population lives. (I express an interest in taking closeup photos, and am warned that they may attempt to eat my camera...)

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Bahamas trip: Day 6

June 26th, 2009
thumbnailFigure 1: Whole coconut

Update: Now with photos!

After breakfast I take a quick walk around the grounds, photographing some plants that were hard to see in the evening light last night. My wandering comes to stop when I find a fallen coconut. "Jackpot!", I think.

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Bahamas trip: Day 5

June 25th, 2009

Today we wake at 7:30, for we must get to the airport by 9:30 in time for our 11:00 flight. (I'm a bit groggy having stayed up to midnight tagging all my photos. That was likely the last night of the trip where I'll be caught up to my photos.) After breakfast in the hotel's dining room, I have some time for a few pictures of plants whose flowers are only fully open in the morning, such as Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon). Then we are off to the airport by taxi.

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Bahamas trip: Day 4

June 24th, 2009

I wake at 4:00, and we are out of the driveway by 4:30. Joining my father and I is the third member of the expedition, Kathleen Maier, an herbalist.

On the approach to Nassau, I get my first glimpse of the turquoise blue waters of the Bahamas. Islands and cays ("keys") are scattered here and there, with white waves marking hidden reefs.

This is my first time out of the country. My passport has its first visa. I am in a new land with different politics and culture and tradition. Also, they drive on the left. (Then why does the taxi have a left-hand driver's side?)

Stepping out of the taxi, I feel as if I am in the tropical section of a botanic garden. It takes a while for the realization to sink in: This is (more or less) the native habitat for these plants. The lizards are not imported. This is the landscape and bioregion that these people call home.

There are of course palms and plantains and bromeliads, and (amusingly) familiar ornamentals from home. That doesn't help the feeling of being in an exhibit, even though the ocean is just across from the hotel. But when I see the plants I have never seen before, I finally accept the full novelty: Royal Poinciana, Cerasee, avocado trees...

Oh, and the lizards! I love catching lizards.

More firsts: I head down to the beach with my snorkeling mask (complete with prescription lenses) and see my first coral reef creatures: Little orange and blue jobbies (apparently damselfish), tubeworms with frond-like filters, and a large, completely unexpected, and somewhat boxy fish hiding under a shelf. I also learn (relatively gently) not to put my hand down on the rock: My palm is jabbed hard by something small, accompanied by a very audible click. Mantis shrimp? Anyway, I'll be more respectful of the crevices, surfaces, and creatures in the future.

In all I take approximately 200 photos and videos in my first day, and I haven't even gotten to San Salvador island!

Bahamas trip: Day 3

June 23rd, 2009
Practice mallow

I spend my last day in Charlottesville putting the final touches on my luggage, then wandering down the road to take in the spring and summer flora and fauna. There are far more insects here than in the city of Boston, so I rarely walk in a straight line for more than 10 feet.

I practice my botanical photography: Capturing the top, front, and back of flowers, the shape of leaves and the texture of both sides, a closeup of the stem, the leaf and stem bases, any fruiting bodies (and the seeds, if available), the habit and context, and the branching pattern. I'll also note the scent of the flowers and leaves and the properties of the sap. My practice plant is an unidentified mallow at the edge of the yard. Total: 17 photos for one plant...

Young fawn laying low

Later in the day my dad and I take the dog for a walk along a nearby private lane and encounter a fawn hidden in the concrete drainage ditch. It's perhaps a few days old, 1.5 - 2 feet from nose to tail. I nearly didn't see it—if I had been walking even a few feet farther from that edge of the road I doubt I would have noticed it. On the way back, we get a bit too close, and it bounds off into the woods.

I go to sleep around midnight, my alarm set for 4:00 AM.