Sunday, November 23, 2008

We live in Paradise

There may be other people that think they live in Paradise, but I'm pretty sure we do. Paraguay is semitropical and has an amazingly long growing season.

We throw out seeds and they produce fruit plants. We're surrounded by fruit--bananas of three varieties, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, avocados (they are fruit, right?), lemons of two or three kinds, grapefruits, tangerines, so many guava trees it makes me think I should be marketing them, as well as the raspberries that we've planted and that quickly got out of control so that we had to move them to a bigger space. We have some young loquat trees that haven't born fruit yet, and I've recently planted a pecan, a macadamia nut, a fig tree, a cherry tree, and a pome- granate.

We planted some seeds my father-in-law brought us from Bolivia. In Bolivia they call the two fruits ocoró and achachairú, and one of them grows wild here and is known as pakuri. They took months to germinate and not all of them did, but eventually they should bear some nice fruit. We also have a tamarind that will provide some nice juice and maybe sauces some day. And then there's all the native stuff that grows in the forest that's edible--inga and espuma rosa and yvapurû and yvapovõ and who knows what else.

The flowers have been especially beautiful this year--perhaps because of all the rain this spring. I've never seen so many flowers on the timbo trees (Enterolobium contortisiliquum) (that's a timbo behind our house above) and the inga (Inga uruguensis); and the jacarandas (Jacaranda mimosifolia) and yellow lapacho (Tabebuia pulcherrima) have been stunning. I never even noticed the sapirangy (Tabernae- montana australis) flower before, and this year they were all covered with beautiful white blooms.

There's one downside to Paradise--it comes at a price. Bugs. Of course, for an entomologist it would still be Paradise. And I often wish I knew more about them. I recently read that there are 540 species of ants in Paraguay, and I'm always finding new and bizarre bugs around the house (like the rhinoceros beetle above). Unfortunately--and this is the downside--a reasonable share of them bite and so you have to deal with those. Then there are the ones that lay their eggs on you and the ones that burrow into your kids' feet.

But please don't get me wrong. We live in Paradise.