July 06, 2006

7-05 Pin-Up Bug: The Chincha

Blue & orange chincha, underside, Costa Rica, 7-05-06. Ė natasha
Blue & orange chincha, back, Costa Rica, 7-05-06. Ė natasha
Blue & orange chincha, front, Costa Rica, 7-05-06. Ė natasha
Blue & orange chincha, top, Costa Rica, 7-05-06. Ė natasha
This exquisite insect was found on a tree near a friendís farm here and I was sadly without my camera. With permission, I snipped off the two-leaf cluster it was perched on, popped it into a container and carted it back a few houses to where Iíd left my bag. By this time, as you can imagine, it was understandably reluctant to sit quietly. Yet out of nearly a dozen mostly dark or blurry shots, I turned out to have just captured some of its more attractive features.

With a spotted, brick red back, bright orange undersides and opalescent blue edging, legs and antennae, youíd think it would stand out quite a bit. But it actually did a passable imitation from just a little distance of a bad spot on the leaf it was found on. I wouldnít have seen it, but I was waiting for someone and getting ready to take up my customary pacing when a little flash of movement caught my eye in the tree I was standing near.

My host family identified this as a chincha. As is probably clear, I donít have any background in entomology, so I canít help you with an English name any more than I can with anything less obvious than a butterfly or spider. But itís still great fun to look and my family here has gotten into the spirit of my endeavor with gusto. If any of them spot something trippy, I can count on hearing something like, ďNatascha! Venga aqui! Su camera, hay animales!Ē Thatís only approximate, of course, because Iím not good enough at sorting out most spoken Spanish to remember it clearly. But itís the thought that counts and theyíve all been very kind and supportive. Even the three year old. The second or third day I was here, sheíd just started warming up to me and wanted to take me to see the goats nearby, so out we went. She ended up treating me to quite the luminous sunset and of course, cute goats.

After being here over a week, the lovely surroundings are starting to seem normal. This morningís find was a reminder that I need to keep paying attention or I might miss something great. It also makes me wonder what Iíve quit seeing nearer to home. At any rate, Iím accumulating quite the file of nifty insects for your later viewing pleasure.

This week has been spent mostly meeting people and making plans to do other things, so not much to report. Though I have managed to start teaching basic HTML to three erstwhile students so that the website project Iím going to be working on has a local support base available to change it after Iím gone. Weíve gotten off to a slow start, but Iíve never tried to do anything like this before and certainly not in a language that I barely know. I now have a great many more Spanish terms for computer usage roaming around in my head and I think that being slow with the language actually helps to present a topic I know well at an accessible pace. Next week, there are also going to be a couple people who want to get set up with email. I have a feeling that my knowledge of how to use email is one of those things thatís been absorbed into a nearly pre-lingual part of the brain and will resist verbalization. I guess there are a few days yet to think about it.

For the weekend, Iíve got major partying to do. A local gentleman who used to make charcoal for sale is going to teach me how to make and tend a traditional charcoal kiln to make charcoal for my project. A family with a greenhouse they arenít using right now and a (quick-growing, like a weed around here, I swear) tree theyíre willing to sacrifice for science is letting me do this at their place. For a whole host of reasons that I wonít go into here, buying a bag of briquettes at the supermercado wonít produce useful results. From what Iíve gathered, Iím going to be watching this thing from Friday to Monday, checking on it every few hours. Good times. I bet Iíll see some spiffy critters to show you; Iíll take pictures.

Posted by natasha at July 6, 2006 12:42 PM | Costa Rica | Technorati links |