Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Bamboo Trip Rio Cienaga

I want needed bamboo. Yep. Great big bamboo stalks so that I can cut them up and make a cool knife rack for my galley. So, when a fellow cruiser told me he knew where some was growing, we were off on a jungle cruise - by boat of course!

Just a 1/4 of a mile or so downriver from our marina is a smaller tributary river named Rio Cienaga. Early in the morning, before the heat of the day, Jonesy and I plus two other sets of cruisers, set off on our adventure.

Thankfully, there hadn't been a lot of rain in the last couple of days so there really wasn't a current to flow against us. In fact, in some places it was flat still. The jungle grows up along the banks, but right beyond that farm fields. We saw sugar cane, corn, and banana trees growing among the lush vegetation. Occasionally we would pass a home site complete with dogs, chickens, and once, a ferrocious Tom turkey gobbling in full display!

Now, this house up on stilts is well prepared for the occasional flood. All along the way we encounted hummingbirds and butterflies of many colors. The giant Blue Morpho Butterfly was fairly commonly seen, as was groups of bright orange smaller butterfles which gathered around the flowering trees.

At one point, I was studying a large tree which stood out in a clearing when I suddenly realized that on the left side of the tree was a group of the large hanging nests of the Montezuma Oropendola birds! The males are bright yellow and black and make a very unique call while hanging upside down from their nests. You can actually see the nests in this photo if you look at the lowest left side branch. These nests are about 3 feet long!

Oops! A freshly fallen tree blocked our path. Thankfully, we had our saws with us to cut the bamboo so a branch was cut which enabled us to pass underneath and continue our journey.

Here are some more of the purple wild orchids with the frilly petals which were growing on another interesting plant - which was growing on another plant. And look at this flower! It was huge - about 10 inches across and covered with ants!

The color of the river water was at times muddy, and at other places it was the color of dark tea or weak coffee. There must have been a lot of tannin from the decaying vegetation.

Here's a clear shot of some banana trees. You know, we aren't able to buy good bananas here even though they are grown commercially. All the 'good' bananas get exported. What is available for us to buy are the 'culls' or second quality fruit. Same with the coffee. The locals are content with instant coffee and it is usually just us gringos who want to buy the beans.

Finally we reached the area with bamboo patches. This is a beautiful yellow bamboo with large diameter stalks - perfect for crafting enterprises.

I struggled with the saw for only a few moments before a fellow camper here at Mario's Marina Summer Camp for Cruisers (Chris from s.v. Lone Star) came to my rescue and cut down one stalk. Yes, just one. That's because it was about 40 feet tall! He cut off the top, and cut the rest into 2 pieces for me too. What a guy!

We loaded the two long stalk pieces onto our 14 foot boat and off we went back to the marina. The bamboo is stowed on deck of our boat under our shade tarps to dry. Then, we will have one of the local guys slice it into the right sizes for me. They have power tools after all and this stuff is tough.

Now for some's a new hat design

I just finished in worsted weight wool. I've called it Autumn Leaves modeled by Jonesy. He sure was in a big hurry to take it off - maybe it was the tropical heat and humidity at 4pm on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala?

And speaking of Jonesy - he's hungry now. We boated over to town this morning and he knows that we have fresh handmade tortillas still warm in the galley and all the fixings for tacos.

Saturday is a pig roast with cruiser contributions of side dishes to thank the Mario's Marina employees. Just another one of the activities here at summer camp for cruisers.

That was some adventure just to get a stalk of bamboo! I hope you will post a picture after you get your knife rack finished. I especially liked the long hanging bird's nests! Very interesting that they build them in a close community like that.
saw you on CD YH group. Great idea to travel and give it all up. You are totally brave. :)
I love the pictures How amazing! Bamboo is amazing stuff... I LOVE knitting with Bamboo needles Thats all I knit with just about lol.
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