Veiled Lady

veiled lady stinkhorn, Dictyophora indusiata

In a clearing among thick brush under ceiba and palm trees, Quiriguá archaeological site, oh about 25 metres west of the ballcourt plaza. This may be the nicest mushroom picture I have taken. Look at the texture in the full size image. D. indusiata appears in tropical regions all around the world. In China it’s cultivated for cooking. I did not eat this one because I had no idea what it was at the time, and even if I had, they were blanket-gassing banana fields with pesticides on the other side of the forest.

But of course I’ll eat those bananas later.

Happy equinox.

The Caiman Waits to Eat the World

Caiman crocodilus

This caiman lives in one of the network of ancient, man-made reservoirs that once supplied drinking water to the Mayan city of Tikal–number three, I think, on this map. He’s little, only three or four feet long, and he spends his days pretending to be a log (pictured), in hopes of preying on the egrets, rails, ducks and other marsh birds that venture too close–and when he can get them, probably on those chihuahua-sized, tailless rodents I kept seeing scurrying about in the underbrush.

For this, my last piece of Guatemala ranting at least for now, it seems appropriate to bring back my favorite Mayanist quote about the end of the world:

“The word for eclipse in Maya is chi-bal-kin, literally “bitten sun’, and it was the ancient belief, which persisted until fairly recent times, that at the time of an eclipse the sun was bitten by a serpent.”

The City of the Sacred Well: Being a Narrative of the Discoveries and Excavations of Edward Herbert Thompson in the Ancient City of Chichenitza T.A. Willard, 1910

An awesome book, by the way, which can be had for free on los eeenternets, here.

Next week, it’s back to chilly, wind-blown New England.