“Rain, rain and rain Nilla.”
“Then mud, mud and mud.”
“You realize that we still haven’t gotten another 20 liter jug of potable water.”
“I know, I’ll boil the water for 15 minutes and use that to wash and rinse the vegetables instead of using the water in the jug.”
“You’ll have to wait for it to cool down.”
“Looks like there is plenty of time for that, we’re in no hurry to get out while it’s raining.”
“Good thing you’ve already got topic ideas for today’s post.”
“Jackson, even if I didn’t I’m sure something would come to mind during the course of the day.”
“Did you hear the geckos last night?”
“Not only do we have one in the kitchen and spare bedroom but another out front.”
“Good insect control. So, what is the topic for today?”
“Thought we’d post about the tagua nut Jackson. The tagua nut is often called the vegetable ivory. It comes from the ivory palm, Phytelephos aequatoralis, ‘elephant plant’.”
“Do they call it the elephant plant because of the ‘ivory’ nut, given that elephants have been killed for their ivory tusks.”
“Yes, the nut, about the size of a hen’s egg, resembles the coloration of the elephant tusk ivory. The orange fleshy part that envelopes the nut is edible and has a taste reported by some to be similar to coconut while others claim it tastes like gingerbread. It is considered a delicacy.”
“Is it difficult to determine if the ‘ivory’ is of plant or animal origin?”
“Experts can tell the difference Jackson. The ivory is easy to polish, and the carvings range from very simple to complex works of art. The make earrings, buttons, key chains, beads, figurines, really an array of articles sold by vendors and tourist souvenir stores.”
“Where do the ivory palms grow?”
“In the rain forests of the Oriente. The nuts are gathered from the forest floor or harvested from the palm high in the tropical forest canopy. The harvesting does not harm the tree.”
“Saving elephants and providing an income for forest inhabitants which might have implications for saving rain forests too? A very special palm.”
“The tagua nut is the natural symbol of strength and versatility. Before the nut can be carved it has to dry, the process can take a few days to weeks but in the rainy season it can take months.”
“On a day like today, the nuts would not be drying. It’s pouring out!”
“About time to check and see if the boiled water has cooled enough to clean the produce.”
“The Ts have to go to Manta to pay for the shuttle from Manta to Guayaquil – apparently they won’t confirm seats unless the fare is paid either by bank transfer or cash. The bank transfer costs $40.00 and it is much less expensive to take the bus. We can stay here and finish up with the produce.”
“We’ve done the Manta bus trip before. We won’t be missing much. Is Aventurero going too?”
Out on the Malecon it has stopped raining. Puddles and mud. The bus stops and is going to Manta via Rocafuerte. There is no need to change buses this time but this bus is more like a school bus making frequent stops. In Rocafuerte there is a ‘terminal’ where one can transfer to buses going to Esmeraldas, Quito, Guayaquil and other destinations as well. A vendor selling cookies and biscuits gets on the bus during the short stop.
The local bus stops at the Mall Pacifico and the walk back a few streets doesn’t take long. Questions about schedules, fees and other services are asked and answered.
Back at the mall lunch and a little shopping at the MegaMaxi. It is getting late, the return trip instead of by bus is by taxi.
“Nilla, they bought ground meat for Sunday’s stuffed potatoes. No horseradish though.”
“That’s okay, we’ll make do.”
The sunset is gorgeous. Another splendid day.