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2008 Biennial of the International Palm Society – Members Unite in Costa Rica

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 9:58AM: The small Licuala-rich area held a few surprises, some with ripe fruit no less. This Licuala lauterbachii was flawless and held a full infructescence off to one side. When ever you would turn around another surprise would practically hit you in the face.

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- 10:00AM: The ripe seed on this palm was well hidden by its massive solid leaf. The Licuala peltata var. sumawongii was crowded by other plants so the leaves that would normally sprawl outward were cramped together. The one good leaf is shown here, riding up along side the infructescence. The leaf blade is about 8 feet (2m) across.

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- This biennial was full of firsts, including the first time I had ever seen a Licuala distans in bloom.

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- The inflorescence was almost neon orange in color and was unbranched at this point in time. It resembled the same inflorescence found on other members of its Licuala sub-group, including L. mapu, L. kunstleri, etc.

2008-05-04_10-01-27.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:01AM: I was in the middle of photographing the Licuala distans when I heard "Orbicularis!" shouted behind me. The time limit kept gnarring at the back of my mind so I was in a hurry shooting and looking, but not enjoying as much as I could. The Licuala orbicularis was the largest one I had ever seen in person, yet it still had tons of growing to do.

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- Nikon at the ready, Forum member Robert Wilson (RainForestt Robert) [Trinidad Bob!], made the best of the last few minutes we had at the farm. He was using the lens I wanted to get so much before the biennial, but alas I felt better that Robert was using it as it is a great piece of equipment.

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- A huge clump of Etlingera Elatior, Red Torch Ginger, blooming its proverbial butt off.

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- An interesting surprise to find growing in a thick section of the farm, a Hydriastele microcarpa in full fruit. The fruit was taunting us as many tried to find a way to collect them. It was at this time some attendees thought they had heard a weasel or whistle being blown, but many ignored it.

2008-05-04_10-08-16.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:11AM: At the mere mention of a whistle, some attendees turned and headed back to the buses while the rest of us tried to squeeze out a few more moments in Marco's farm. This unusual Clusia sp., or Clusia-like plant was in bloom and caught my attention. The flowers were bright red and held on a long spike. The tree was growing as a large thicket, sprawling all over perhaps looking for something to grow upon. Jeff and I were interested in the plant, but no one seemed to know the species. If you happen to know, please post the identity.

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- Biennial veteran and Forum member Jim Glock (jglock1) had to give this hairy beast a hug. It was one of the largest Old Man Palms, Coccothrinax crinita I had ever seen, not to mention it had brothers and sisters just as big.

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- 10:16AM: This was one of the large Black Bamboos, but I could not get close enough to identify it.

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- When we first arrived, we all noticed these large Princess Palm, Dictyosperma-like palms growing in the distance. I was following Jim & Judy Glock as they were exploring a trail when we found one of these palms dropping ripe seed all over. To our amazement, the fruit was blue in color. On closer inspection, the fruit had a waxy coating and when combined with the purple aril, looked blue. We are still talking about this palm today, and have yet to figure it out. I have been told the seedlings germinate fast and resemble Dictyosperma. It is most likely D. album, with just a variation in fruit color.

2008-05-04_10-18-05.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:21AM: We knew it was time to head on back, after several long and very enthusiastic blows of a whistle were heard. I took a few more shots as I followed Jim Glock back towards the buses.

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- We caught up to a few groups that were still working their way back. Grower Marco Herrero was trying to ID something that FMs. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) and Jeff Searle were curious about. It might have been that mystery Dictyosperma.

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- Marco was very generous and offered seed of anything to anyone as we were walking to the buses. He takes a closer look at a grouping of Ptychosperma caryotoides and offers the seed to Jeff as they verify the ID.

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- 10:28AM: March! With one more blow of the whistle, the attendees were in full retreat to the buses. We had one last time to absorb it all before we got blinded by another botanical treasure chest.

2008-05-04_10-28-04.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:31AM: To the bane of a few attendees who clarified their discomfort with strange noises and shrieks, we walked under a low branch supporting a moderately-size Boa Constrictor, Boa constrictor who had just eaten its breakfast.

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- 10:32AM: Time to leave. The sensation of leaving our first Biennial location sets in as many board their individual bus or mini-bus, water bottle in hand. Many make it a point to thank Marco for opening his farm to all of us, and for any seed we might have gotten. We tried not to get too comfortable as our next destination was just down the road.

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Marco Herrero Farm -> Gerardo Herrero Farm

- 10:40AM: We made our way down a few dirt roads, some turns included and drove across the construction of the new Pan-Costa Rican Highway that will link both coasts with a shorter drive. The tallest palms we could see as we got closer were these Pigafetta filaris.

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time to upload more photos...

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:43AM: We enjoyed our short scenic tour of the area separating the two farms. As we were arriving to Gerardo Herrero's farm, Group 1 was just now getting to the entrance of Marco's farm that we had just left. Basically, we flip flopped. One of the first things that entered our minds after disembarking from our buses was that there would be no seed left. I know those of you from Group 1 had to have thought the same thing. The list of species we could encounter was the same as from the first farm. Anything could be here, and we knew it.

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- The farm was completely different than the first, in regards to layout or design. We hit the first path and split off into different groups. We were told we had even less time here before we had to leave so the same feeling of being rushed came over me, and that didn't make for the best time, but I took it in stride. One of the first large palms to grace us with its presence was this spectacular Phoenicophorium borsigianum that FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) almost got bit by.

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- 10:47AM: As we broke into groups, we entered this one area of full sun exposure and saw a few curiosities. For a second, some attendees could not identify the grove of tall palms before them, mostly because of their habit. Believe it or not, these are Pinanga caesia, normally a low rainforest palm, growing tall in full sun.

2008-05-04_10-47-36.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:49AM: The "Ooo's" and "Ahh's" fell like dominos as attendees began to take it all in at once. Like the first farm, this place was tropical plant nirvana.

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- I had to see just how big these Pigafetta filaris were up close, so I went towards them first. They are huge, as Bill can attest to as he stands near the bottom of one of them.

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- There were old leaves and leaf bases sprawled all over the ground and some were quite large. Bill tries one on for size.

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- 10:52AM: Every path looked more welcoming than the last. I could not make up my mind to which to take so I just saw someone I knew and followed. These pathways were adorned with huge bamboo clumps and made for an almost storybook like feel to the visit.

2008-05-04_10-52-50.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 10:53AM: The different species of bamboo present on the farm gave me an opportunity to test my knowledge of the plant group. I could not hold back from photographing them as I am a avid fan of these giant grasses. This was one of several clumps of a Dendrocalamus sp., probably D. asper. Members of this genus do not grow fast in South Florida.

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- There were plenty of places to explore, in a short amount of time. There were regular arrangements of containerized plants in rows under shade cloth, and other nursery layouts. Some paths held twists and turns that revealed surprises.

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- This Licuala seemed to be a solitary Licuala peltata, or a L. peltata var. sumawongii with split leaves. Either way it was a nice looking fan palm.

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- 10:59: This charming person, who didn't need coaching to smile, tried to stay out of sight during our second stop of the day. I walked over to a collection of CRT vehicles to get a bottle of water and she was handing them out to attendees. I glanced at her name tag and I recognized who she was as attendees were taking water from her. They probably didn't know who she was, or how instrumental she had become to the success of the biennial. This is Rebeca Murillo, CRT Director of Executive Accounts and architect of the 2008 Biennial in Costa Rica. Every detail, from hotel reservations, biennial scheduling, pre and post excursion tours, travel logistics, and everything in between was coordinated by her. She was at the farm just to see what 180 plus palm fanatics look like all in one place.

2008-05-04_10-59-57.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:00AM: I grabbed my water and said "Thank you" again to Rebeca, and continued on my way through the farm. I walked a short distance and noticed a large gathering of attendees under a farm structure. It seemed to be a construction, shipping and potting up area for the farm.

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- On the large table in front, there were bags of sample seed for attendees to take home. Each bag had different seed all mixed together with no names, so some people were wary of what they could get in the 'goody bag'.

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- 11:02AM: There were a few fresh inflorescences that were placed on the table for the seed fest. Bus #3 attendee Michael Masterson holds up one batch of Ptychosperma sp. seed.

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- Next door to the structure was a rare-plant filled shadehouse that said "Come on in". There were tons of containerized plants to look at. Some had grown so fast they had become a permanent resident of the shade house. CRT Guide Andres walks through and checks on everyone and offered water if they needed it.

2008-05-04_11-03-05.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:03AM: An example of waiting a bit too long before potting up. This is a crowded, yet still slightly containerized grouping of Licuala peltata var. sumawongii.

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- Zooming out from the shot above shows the surrounding area of the shadehouse. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I saw a few things I would have liked to have purchased and brought back to the hotel. I just didn't want to run around looking for a phyto before stuffing them into a suitcase.

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- 11:06AM: Exiting the shadehouse I began to pick up some momentum knowing time was quickly running out. This is a nice grove of Princess Palms, Dictyosperma album.

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- I followed a row of Peach Palms and came across an ID contest in progress. Some attendees were taking turns identifying the containerized palms on the right. "Iriartea or Socratea?"

2008-05-04_11-06-57.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:09AM: In the long row of Peach Palms, Bactris gasipaes, there were a few with a bright yellow coating of algae or lichen on their trunks. The comment was made that the hue of yellow happened to match Bill Sanford's shirt.

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- The group I had encountered had not yet seen the shadehouse, so I informed some of them about it and turned and followed them back. On the left in blue, checking the settings on her camera is Forum member and Bus #3 attendee Chris Stevens (Matadham). Fellow Bus #3 alumni Lew Burger is following in behind her.

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- 11:12AM: Back in the shadehouse, I saw fit to pull out a potential purchase to better photograph it. This one gallon (4.4l) Mauritia flexuosa was the perfect size for luggage transport.

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- We were fortunate to meet our host of this visit, Gerardo Herrero as he was making his rounds. Jeff Searle gets ready to photograph him with Patti and IPS Past President and FM. Paul Craft (Licuala).

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:14AM: Feather Palms, Lytocaryum weddellianum, were a popular stop for curious attendees. Those ultra-fine leaflets make it highly-desirable to collectors.

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- Bus #4 Attendee and Forum member Jayanne Crawley (La Lady) accepts a business card from our second host of the day, Gerardo Herrero.

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- Discoveries under the shade cloth were the mainstay for much of the early afternoon. IPS Director and FM. Faith Bishock (budrot) notices another one of those unusual Arenga sp. with the super thin leaflets. The palm was doing quite well in a bit of standing water. We began to look around to see if there were any smaller plants of the same variety.

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- One of the larger Diamond Joeys, Johannesteijsmannia altifrons, was in full, perfect bloom. It was hard to photograph the entire plant due to its neighboring stock. Notice the yellow-cream color striping on the petioles.

2008-05-04_11-20-32.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:20AM: Standing in the same location where I took the shot above, I panned upward and got as much of the crown as I could. The leaves were not quite full size, but they were smashing against the shadecloth above it. All four members of the Johannesteijsmannia genus are some of my favorite palms.

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- 11:22AM: We expected to hear the whistle again as we got closer to high noon, our planned departure time to go to lunch. I followed Faith back towards the rear of the property as she wanted to explore the rest and I had not been there yet either. She was also identifying many of plants along the way including this Breadfruit Tree, Artocarpus altilis.

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- Right behind the Breadfruit Tree, was this Dragon Tree, Dracaena draco.

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- 11:26AM: In an exposed area between the shadehouse and the rear of the property, was this stately Majesty Palm, Ravenea rivularis. It was quite large and enjoying its location in the farm very much.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

-11:28AM: We kept walking for a short while until we came to an impassable section of the farm dominated by massive bamboo clumps. And I do mean massive. This was another Dendrocalamus sp., probably D. asper or D. giganteus. We made a left turn and followed a path towards the center-rear of the farm.

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- Along this particular path we found a number of more common, but very well grown plants. Bambusa multiplex

'Alphonse Karr' is a common landscape bamboo in South Florida. It grows very well and thick, and forms a tight clump.

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- 11:31AM: Standing smack in the middle of the pathway was this behemoth Sugar Palm, Arenga pinnata. The leaves kept reaching upward beyond where we could see. The silver leaf undersides were bouncing back my flash like mirrors.

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- There were hundreds of Areca vestiaria planted throughout this tree farm as well. They were all so perfect and begged to have their portrait taken. This one held two inflorescences that were in two different stages of maturing.

2008-05-04_11-32-40.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:34AM: We walked past this Lobster Claw Heliconia, Heliconia rostrata and entered an area filled with plenty of exotic palms. Some of these I knew, with one mysterious one I did not.

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- One exotic that was unmistakable was this robust Marojejya darianii. It was by far the focal point of this small area. The leaves were huge; they measured at least 20 ft (6m) in length and dwarfed our two moderators. Forum moderator Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean) ponders why the thin Ptychosperma sp. had to be in the photo while he stands with FMod. Angela Blakely (putu enjula).

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- 11:36AM: Just in behind the Marojejya, was an interesting palm that kept me puzzled for a short while until Paul Craft came along to help identify it. I kept staring at those inflorescences for the longest time until I noticed the stone-like spathes above them, sticking out from the trunk; preparing to bear more inflorescences. After I noticed them I thought "Geonoma", one genus I was not too familiar with. We do not see too many members of this genus in South Florida. Paul identified it as Geonoma interrupta and mentioned it is actually one of the species that could grow in South Florida, I now know of one example.

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- The upper half of the tree showing the upright crown and evenly divided pinnate leaves. FM. Faith Bishock (budrot) was glad to have the name as well, as she was trying to figure it out along with FM. Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle).

2008-05-04_11-37-05.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:38AM: A close-up of the Geonoma interrupta stone-spathe mentioned above. It is made of dense fiber and feels like solid wood.

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- Seed, tons of seed. There were a trio of Geonoma interrupta in the area, the three palms formed a small circle and all of them were mature. Between all of the trees, there were thousands of ripe, pea-sized seed on the tree and on the ground.

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- 11:41AM: Here is the mystery palm in all its unknown glory. I have no idea what it is. It was the only palm I saw on the entire biennial that made me say "What the heII is that?!” It had features that resemble a New Caledonian-type palm. With the white wax, inflorescence, thin leaflets and nodal scars, the closest thing I could come up with was Veillonia alba, but the seed are way too small, the leaves are not held the right way and this tree lacks a complete crownshaft covered with brown tomentum.

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- It has to be known by someone, as it is not a native and was planted by humans, hopefully. It is a great looking palm, with many desirable features, too bad I can't tell you what it is. There were two trees, about a stone's throw apart. This one and the one above were the two.

2008-05-04_11-42-24.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 11:43AM: The mystery palm has a unique spathe as well. It had paper thin edges that when the time came, split and allowed the spadix to emerge, showing the new inflorescence. The white wax was apparent everywhere and was found on most surfaces. I could not get close enough to touch it.

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- By this time, others had gathered and had become entranced by this unknown species, which trunk and stem base can be seen here. The fact that no one could identify it drove some attendees into a seed-mad craze and made them try to get the seed by any means. On the right, IPS Director and Forum member Faith Bishock (budrot) takes a break from trying and gives Bus #4 attendee & FM. Jack Sayers (elHoagie) a crack at getting the seed down. Fellow Bus #4 rider Paul Richnow looks on while the trunk did not bend much.

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- 11:46AM: One last look at the living mystery shows another view of its peculiar 'white cheeks' on either side of the split leaf base. If you look at the newest leaf base, towards the top, you may notice how pure white it is with the green stripe in the middle. The older leaf bases have a bit of dark mold growing on the wax.

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- We did not actually hear the whistle, but we heard people yelling that they had heard it at this point in time. I stayed behind a few moments to take some more photos as the mass of curious attendees began the hike back towards the buses. I knew I wasn't going to get everything, so I took more shots of the 'exotic spot' including the Marojejya darianii and headed back.

2008-05-04_11-46-33.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Gerardo Herrero Farm

Group 2: Bus #3 & Bus #4

- 12:00PM: It was time for lunch, but before we could eat we had to get on the bus and make sure we had everyone accounted for. This was the last walk through Gerardo's incredible plant collection. You had to absorb so much in such a limited time, but it was definitely worth every second.

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- 12:06PM: Bus #3 and Bus #4 attendees were returning in staggered amounts so we began to wait for a short while as they all boarded their respected bus or mini-bus. I found my comfy spot back on the wheel well so I had plenty of time to look over my photos and capture people as they got on the mini-bus. IPS Director and Forum member Larry Davis (Lefty) gets on board and eyes the steering wheel. He was tempted to take control and drive us all to lunch, or somewhere. That clock was a little off I think.

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- 12:08PM: A few more stragglers show up and board the mini-bus including Bus #4 registered Palm Expert, IPS Director and FM. Dr. Larry Noblick (Noblick). He was happy that he wasn't the last one, as we continued to wait for thee last one.

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- 12:23PM: Over twenty minutes had passed and we were still waiting for one more Bus #4 attendee to make an appearance. CRT Guides began a search and spread out over the entire farm. FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) kept us entertained by making hand puppets. I think that one was a duck. Eventually the lost attendee was found and quietly boarded the bus amidst the expected jeers of hungry attendees. I will spare you the photo of the attendee in question to protect his/her identity...

2008-05-04_12-23-40.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco & Gerardo Herrero Farms -> Hotel el Rodeo (lunch) -> IMBioparque

Bus #4 (part of it)

- 12:28PM: With everyone on board and no one missing we hit the road and headed east, back towards San Jose. The entire Biennial complement was back together and we all traveled to our lunch destination in one long caravan. One of the other Bus #4 mini-buses narrowly avoids hitting that blue car.

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- 12:31PM: We began to pass through a small town when we noticed a truck up ahead with a full band playing in the back of it. We did a few double-takes and thought that is a cool idea to spread music around.

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- As we got closer we could easily hear their music through the closed windows. They seemed to play through a few songs quickly until they noticed us pull up along side them. They switched to a real fast beat and waved back at us as we waved and some made dancing motions in our seats. Our CRT Guide Mario noticed one of the players as his old music teacher from school. Small world.

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- 12:38PM: This was a typical road side vendor selling beef-related wares off his car to tourists passing by. Someone looked at that and wondered if we were having steak for lunch.

2008-05-04_12-38-00.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco & Gerardo Herrero Farms -> Hotel el Rodeo (lunch) -> IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 12:44PM: A little before one in the afternoon and we were all back together again, for food of course. We drove east for a short while and arrived at the Hotel el Rodeo, a small hotel/resort not too far from the highway. It was about halfway between the farms and our next biennial destination, the IMBioparque. As the buses arrived, attendees streamed into the dining hall. The majority got into the buffet line immediately, while others decided to save a table and wait for the line to thin a bit.

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- The line got long and out the door in a hurry. I figured why stand in line when I could be taking photos. After the main line entered the small auditorium to the left, it split into two lines, so it moved along at a good speed. In the center of the photo in a red shirt and sunglasses, looking in my direction and smiling is Bus #1 attendee and Forum member Bren Funaro (junglegalfla). The food had an enticing smell and we were all hungry.

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- 12:46PM: Inside the auditorium the banquet tables were being emptied of food and replenished just as fast. IPS Director, Bus #1 Commander, and FM. Ray Hernandez (Ray Tampa) gives me the 'wink' of approval. The spread of food consisted of typical buffet favorites among local cuisine. There was a lot to choose from, but not much time in which to decide as it was going fast. When no one was looking I took a carrot and ate it.

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- 12:47PM: On the left, IPS Director and Bus #2 attendee Leonel Mera waits patiently as the people in front of him in line help themselves to some salad.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco & Gerardo Herrero Farms -> Hotel el Rodeo (lunch) -> IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 1:02PM: It was a great occasion to see all the attendees in one location away from our hotel. I knew because of our schedule for the remainder of the week, this type of situation was going to be very rare. When you stop for a second and watch and listen you see a whole lot of palm enthusiasts in their element. Talking, chatting, sharing, conversing, it all represents an incredible time in a wonderful place, even though it only lasted for a short while. You begin to notice attendees that are standing and moving from table to table saying hello, sharing greetings, and introducing each other. The phrase "Fun was had by all" comes to mind a few times. I was on my way to get my lunch at this point, if there was any food left.

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- 1:38PM: Having been refueled by an all-star lunch, and a few too many desserts, the lively atmosphere beckoned to be photographed. At one table, immediately next to mine, the conversation machine was hard at work among Bus #4 alumni. On the left, Forum member Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) talks with fellow Californian FM. Jack Sayers (elHoagie) while FM. Robert Wilson (RainForestt Robert) has a discussion with FM. Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle) and Judy Kay [obscured]. In behind them and to the left a bit, are IPS Directors Larry Davis (Lefty) [standing] and Jim Cain [seated] who are talking with Larry Aronson [back to camera] and Liz Cain.

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- 1:45PM: It's good to be the President. :winkie: Bus #1 attendee Cynthia Riggall takes a moment to give a much needed back rub to our beleaguered IPS President and FM. Bo-Göran Lundkvist (bgl) while he sits with his son, André Lundkvist. Being on the Board of Directors has perks after all. :lol:

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- 1:46PM: Nurserymen, fellow Bus #4 attendee and FM. Jerry Anderson (jdapalms) and his wife Cindy were a welcome addition to the bus, especially during the Talent show. Cindy has a great singing voice. I didn't mean to cut off FM. Allan Bredeson (Al in Kona) halfway in the photo. I didn't notice he was posing when I took the shot, and I did not look at the photo until after we had left. Sorry, Al.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Marco & Gerardo Herrero Farms -> Hotel el Rodeo (lunch) -> IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 1:52PM: It was closing in on the next hour, and soon it would be time to depart yet again. Robert takes a moment to show an aspect of his camera to Lindsey Sayers, 'laHoagie' before we left the dining hall. That Nikon lens still has a welcomed spot on my wish list.

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- 1:57PM: IPS Presidents, past and present. Past President and FM. Paul Craft (Licuala) stands next to our current President and FM. Bo-Göran Lundkvist (bgl). They must have been discussing things presidential as they got a little quiet as I approached.

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- 2:01PM: Time to load up and head on out. We gathered our belongings and walked to our corresponding bus. As we were walking through the parking lot, a CRT Guide was repeating, "Attendees for Buses 1 through 3 go out front, Bus #4 attendees, you go out the back." I felt as if we were getting segregated already for our behavior, and it was only Day 2. We found our mini-buses parked out the back next to a large Attalea butyracea. Bill took his turn posing with the enormous flowering palm.

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- 2:06PM: We took are now familiar seats on the mini-bus and had the typical wait to endure as they checked off everyone from the list. As we were waiting, we noticed a tennis match in progress next to the mini-bus. The longer we waited the more in-depth we got in the game. After a short while a few people began cheering and making noises as they played on. We “oooh'd” and ‘ahh'd’ every point, or what we thought was a point as no one could really keep score. The tennis players began to think they had a real crowd watching and bowed and waved to the bus as they were winning or losing. We left waving, as they waved back perhaps wondering who in the world those people were.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 2:42PM: We sat back in our seats and digested our great lunches while our buses continued to take us east, back towards San Jose. Since time passes on Bus #4 rather quickly, the trip seemed almost nonexistent, even on the cramped quarters of our mini-bus. We arrived ready to tackle another great biennial location and this time it was the multi-dynamic, educational resource known as the IMBioparque. This facility was created in 2000 by the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), a private non-profit agency, to educate and familiarize the public about Costa Rica's immense biodiversity. This is a word that all attendees now know very well. The park combines the features of a botanical garden and zoo with that of a recreational center spread over 20 acres (8ha). The facility's main attractions are informative nature trails that educate visitors to the plants and animals they encounter as they walk through the park. Along these trails there are wildlife stations, each set up to educate park guests to certain groups of animal life, such as reptiles, insects, etc. We visited the majority of what the park had to offer, minus a few areas and while enduring the only main rainfall of the week. One of the first major insurrections, or ‘diversion tangents’ of the biennial took place here as well.

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- 2:43PM: The entire mass of attendees entered the park at the same time. We were divided into smaller groups of about 15 people each by way of numbered name tags. The problem of not ending up in a group you wanted was quickly solved by use of small markers. A "1" quickly became a "4" and so on.

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- 2:45PM: Then there was this unique individual. As we made our way through the entrance area, it became clear we were not the only group of people visiting the park this day. There were plenty of tourists, school children, and families all at the park as well this Sunday afternoon. In one area, just past the entrance, they were having a Dutch product fair, of sorts. I was talking to one vendor who said they were showcasing and selling items made in The Netherlands, when I noticed this vendor who in my opinion should win the ribbon for best ethnic sales idea ever. I was not sure to who or what she was representing, but I do know she was using that large knife in her hands to cut up cheese samples. Sorry for the blur, but it was mobbed and I kept getting bumped into.

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- A few seconds later, I was able to escape the crowd and get past the area. They had all sorts of items to try and to buy.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 2:47PM: We made our way past the Dutch Showcase and were intercepted by park staff that began to sort us into our groups. Some of the groups were shuffled into this nearby classroom/theater while others went off in another direction. We each grabbed a seat and were shown a short video describing the meaning of Biodiversity and how it exists in Costa Rica. The staff was very nice, and seemed at ease with such a large group.

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- 3:11PM: At the conclusion of the video, we were assigned a guide who then led us from the classroom to the beginning of the trails.

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- Our guide was very informative and knew the park intimately. He is shown here on the left, guiding our group through one of the first sections of the trail.

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- 3:13PM: One of the first native palms to catch our attention was this quaint Asterogyne martiana which was getting freshly misted by the rain which had begun to fall.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 3:25PM: The rain was light and came down heavy at only a few times. We were prepared, so it was only a minor inconvenience. The guide kept use moving at a good pace. I was not sure how much time we had or as to what the schedule was for the evening. I only knew that the first presentation of the biennial was taking place tonight sometime. At one part of the trail were a few different palms found close to each other, including this Peach Palm, Bactris gasipaes.

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- There were more than a few Pinanga coronata (kuhlii) scattered under the canopy. I was not sure why they would have planted an exotic in the park, other than to have a colorful palm for people to enjoy.

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- 3:27PM: This one part of the trail would have continued if it wasn't for a small wooden bridge that was currently "out of service". We walked down the trail towards the Peach Palm and discovered it was a dead end and had to walk back. In the center of the photo in the bright yellow poncho, FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) wondered if there was a security system in place and tested his theory by stepping off the sidewalk. Luckily, no alarms went off.

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- 3:28PM: A large Astrocaryum alatum marked one corner of the trail, not far from the Peach Palm.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 3:32PM: It was at this point I was getting the sense that some attendees were getting a little bored with the progress we were making through the park. The guide was exceptional, but I feel with all the great descriptions and information displays we could have made our own way through the park, at our own pace. Some attendees saw a wildlife station they wanted to spend more time in, while others wanted to avoid it. The rain became heavier at this point, and made for some unscheduled and longer stops at some of the covered wildlife stations. We exited one such station and were surprised to see this unusual native, Synechanthus warscewiczianus just off the trail a little ways.

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- The palm was more than mature, and was in the middle of one infructescence. Notice how long the infructescence is, and how far it extends away from the stem.

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- 3:39PM: As soon as I saw this strange plant I knew what it was, as I grow two of its more common cousins back home. This is the native Pereskia lychnidiflora, a protected species of an ancient cacti genus. On the evolutionary ladder, this plant is towards the top of the cactus family. It comes from a time where cacti still needed to bear leaves in order to survive. The other species are fun and very easy to grow.

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- 3:43PM: The next wildlife station we encountered involved reptiles, and they were striking to see up close. The timing was good too as a heavy downpour had just come across the park. The largest snake on display was this Boa constrictor, Boa constrictor. He was sharing his display case with a few others of his closest friends.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 3:46PM: The reptile wildlife station became a bit cozy as the rainfall began to get heavier. This Rainbow Boa, Epicrates cenchria had a great view of 'detained' biennial attendees. This snake is very popular among reptile enthusiasts. It is found throughout the lowlands of Costa Rica and can reach 8 feet (2.5m) in length. When seen in full daylight, the snake's skin will emit a rainbow-colored sheen.

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- This snake isn't so popular because of its venomous bite. The Lora, or Side-stripped pit viper, Bothriechis lateralis is found in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. Its bite may be deadly, but fatalities are very rare. I think it had a great coloration. To better get at is prey, this snake comes equipped with a prehensile tail; which can be seen to the left and below of the snake's body wrapped around the branch.

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- 3:48PM: As the rain came down, more and more people began to cram into the wildlife station, which was not much bigger than a gazebo. Our guide on the right used the time to answer questions and explain snake behavior to attendees including Forum member and Bus #4 attendee Darold Petty (Darold Petty).

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- A moment later, there was a flurry of activity just outside the station. A Two-toed Sloth was spotted in a tree a few steps from where we were standing. He was trying to get out of the rain, while the 'smart' ones with cameras were out standing in it.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 3:51PM: Time for the biennial to be brought up a level. While avoiding the rain with the snakes, we were joined by a pair of hard-core biennial veterans, Bus #4 mascots and Forum members Paul & Judy Norris (Palmnorris, Queen of Bling); seen here with Andrea & Jeff Searle. They had been on a separate excursion which did not end until the second day of the biennial and were taken to the park to catch up with the rest of us.

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- The rain lightened up a little bit so we continued onward to the edge of the park's lagoon. A part of the lagoon had been sectioned off to create an enclosure for Spectacled Caiman, Caiman crocodilus. As you can see, the rain never completely stopped.

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- 3:59PM: Across the trail from the Caiman exhibit, the park had an interesting 'turtle experience' for those who wish to see what life is like with a shell on their back. Andrea Searle, who is a renown admirer of all things turtle and tortoise, decided to give it a try. FM. Larry Davis (Lefty) gets in behind to get a photo. She was doing quite well wearing the imitation shell until Jeff Searle decided to alter everyone's perception of what turtle life was like. I was unable to use a flash, as my camera was in a rain sleeve so I had to sacrifice shutter speed for exposure. Not unlike Jeff, who sacrificed a little dignity for exposure. :blink:

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- 4:00PM: "We're going underground folks." We followed the trail as it ran along side the lagoon to this point where it went underground to another wildlife station.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 4:01PM: The underground wildlife station gave visitors a look at popular underwater inhabitants of Costa Rica. On one side of the station was a large glass window giving a murky, yet interesting view into the parks lagoon.

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- Attendees began to shuffle into the station to get a moment or two out of the rain, while listening to the guide describe the various creatures. Certain people didn't stay long as they did not like the idea of being underground. They began to freak out a little bit.

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- The right side of the station was divided into smaller aquariums; each containing a few different species of fish representing a particular region of the country.

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- 4:03PM: The Alligator Gar, Atractosteus spatula has become a popular game fish for Costa Rican tourism. Many specimens can reach 10 feet (3m) in length and give a good fight or so I've heard. In South Florida, they are a nuisance fish in fresh water areas.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 4:04PM: We spent only a few moments underground as our guide kept us on a tight schedule. We emerged to find the rain falling yet again.

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- 4:06PM: The point had been reached where we had to return to the entrance area for a few more park related activities. We made a turn and followed the opposite side of the lagoon back towards the front of the park. This unusual tree had caught our eye before and now we had the opportunity to ask the guide about it. It is called "Bull's balls" or Guevos de Caballo, Stemmadenia donnell-smithii. This infamous anatomical name is derived from the fact the seed pods are always produced in pairs of two.

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- 4:13PM: Near the park entrance, this Geonoma ferruginea was almost missed. It was getting very dark and overcast and the smaller inhabitants of the rainforest floor were getting harder to see.

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- 4:19PM: The trail was coming to an end as we could hear multiple voices belonging to different groups of visitors and attendees. One attendee who was always in the mood to smile, was Bus #2 alumni Felix Montes. His group had finished the tour and was making their way to the auditorium to see the presentation that evening.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 4:25PM: The last palm to identify before leaving the trail was a juvenile Iriartea deltoidea.

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- 4:27PM: The walking tour of the trail had come to a conclusion and there was one more audio/visual presentation for visitors to view. Our guide is on the left instructing people on where to go to next. A few attendees decided that they needed a break and went to look for other forms of stimulation. Before doing so, we all waited for other groups to reach the finish line.

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- While we were waiting, I photographed the entrance area and some of its more interesting flora. The center of the entrance area was dominated by this large orange-fruit bearing tree, Citharexylum donnell-smithii.

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- It is a member of the Verbena Family, Verbenaceae and has a large range and not to mention a showy bloom.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 4:29PM: Our small group came to a realization at this time, as another group led by their guide arrived back at the entrance area. The park guide, in the blue poncho pointing towards the auditorium/amphitheater, mentioned to her group as well as us that the presentations would begin in a short while. We also found out that dinner was scheduled after the presentations, a surprise to ourselves and our stomachs.

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- Forum member and Bus #1 attendee Kimberly Cyr (Kim) had the perfectly drenched expression to sum up of the day.

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- 4:37PM: While the other attendees were being educated by the park's audio/visual finale, my group decided to journey on over to the nearby cafe for a beverage or two. Fellow Bus #4 attendee LeAnn Holmes hands a beer to Judy Glock.

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- 4:59PM: We had about fifteen minutes to enjoy ourselves at the cafe until we were summoned by park staff to come down to the amphitheater to see the presentation(s). The seats began to slowly fill as the large portable screen and projector were all ready to go. The park lagoon was just to the left.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque

Groups 1 & 2: All Buses

- 5:06PM: The amphitheater had more than enough room for all of the sleepy and tired attendees. People continued to arrive after finishing their tours. It was as this time, that a 'small idea' slowly became a 'biennial insurrection' which in turn led to the Exodus... We came to the conclusion that it was not a good idea to make people sit through presentations without allowing them to choose. In most cases the presentation comes after dinner, not before it. It would be at that time where attendees would choose to watch the presentation or go do something else. We decided to go back to the hotel.

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- 5:21PM: We rounded up other 'would be' rebels and snuck our way out of the amphitheater and made our way back to the park entrance. Word of our rebellion had spread and we were joined by Bus #1 crew and FM. Bren Funaro (junglegalfla), her friend Julie Cowen who was very happy to see our insurrection in action, and local FM. Jeffrey Anderson (Jeff in Costa Rica).

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- 5:23PM: Our CRT Guide Mario, standing on the right wall, was slowly becoming uneasy with the idea of us going off schedule. He was running around and getting names of everyone who was leaving early and repeating how that this was not the best of ideas. We were not able to use one the buses to get back to the hotel, as they had to remain with the majority of the attendees. We decided to round up a batch of taxis to transport us back to the hotel.

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- 5:30PM: We left the confines of the IMBioparque and preceded to the edge of the property; near what we thought was a busy enough street to try and find at least one taxi. The plan was to flag one taxi and have them call us a few more. In behind a camera viewfinder as much as I was is FM. and FMod. Angela Blakely (putu enjula).

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

IMBioparque -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Presentation Refugees

- 5:30PM: We used up a bit of our luck, as a taxi came on by after only a few seconds. The driver called in our request and four more taxis were on the way to pick up the remainder of the 17 presentation refugees. The first taxi makes a u-turn and takes off carrying a group including excited Forum member Bren Funaro (junglegalfl).

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- 5:38PM: One by one, additional taxis began to arrive a few minutes later. We squished the last five people into my taxi and then we were off to the races. Hold on tight. I tried to do that actually when I noticed my taxi's passenger side door had no handgrip.

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- 5:47PM: For a while I thought my sister was driving, as we dashed between cars, passed others on the shoulder, and made interesting lane changes. The sun was going down in a hurry and that seemed to add to the fervor. I think, or know the taxi drivers were in a race to see who could get to the hotel first. That taxi in front of us held Jeff & Andrea Searle, Jim & Judy Glock and one determined driver. That taxi and ours were both making illegal left turns in front of one angry semi truck.

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- 5:48PM: The last stretch to the hotel included a surprise u-turn in the roads' other direction left turn lane. We pulled ahead of their taxi as we made a tighter turn. They missed that oncoming car, but we almost did not.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

- 7:59PM: The rebels survived the trip back to the hotel and then scattered back to their rooms, went poolside, ate dinner, etc. My group walked on over to the nearby mall and ate at the food court. It was not a bad walk, but everyone seemed to be at the mall this Sunday evening. The majority of those who left the park early began to appear poolside around eight at night. The others that were still at the IMBioparque still had another hour or so before they would even leave to come back to the hotel. Forum member & IPS Director Ray Hernandez (Ray Tampa) was wondering why I was taking his photo with friend and cohort FM. Bobby Savinetti (BobbyinNY).

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- 8:40PM: To the dismay of many attendees, the poolside hot tub was 'out of order' this evening. But this minor complication would not keep determined people from having fun. Not when there was liquid motivation available. Slowly, many of the poolside chairs and loungers were pulled on over to form a circle under a canopy. Having a good time from left to right are: FM. Paul & Judy Norris (Palmnorris, Queen of Bling), Bus #2 attendee Rob Branch and FM. & Professor Jim Glock (jglock1).

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- 8:48PM: A special award for service to the Forum should be given to our Moderator, Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean) as he was always on the ball when it came to his moderating duties. He was having a great time with all of us next to the pool while at the same time posting on the Forum. I believe he was posting, telling everyone at this moment not to misbehave on the Forum as he was still at the keyboard even though he was in another country.

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- 9:29PM: FM. Larry Davis (Lefty) joined us poolside after all the other attendees made it back to the hotel. He ignored the signs and tested the water of the now broken hot tub. A few others tried to find out what was wrong with it, but to no avail.

2008-05-04_21-29-40.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 02: Sunday, May 4th: Conclusion

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

- 9:55PM: It was getting late and people began to surrender to the night and went to their rooms. There was one or two who could not wait to get back to their room, however. It was easier for them to just pass out where they were after a few hours of fun and lively conversation.

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- 10:11PM: The poolside gathering was still going strong when I was leaving. These three were keeping it going very well as I went to my room. Left to right: Bus #3 attendee Robin Crawford, FM. & FMod. Carlo Morici (Carlo Morici) and FM. Jack Sayers (elHoagie).

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Day 03 comes next, and for the first time attendees become divided and travel to different locations...

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th: Introduction

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

The sunrise in Costa Rica never seemed to skip a beat the entire time I was there. Like clockwork the sun light was streaming through the curtains yet again and woke me up well before my group’s planned departure time. I had to use this time for something and breakfast seemed the logical choice. As I stumbled around getting my camera ready, I went over in my head what we were going to do on this day. My group, Group 2 was bound for the Rain Forest Aerial Tram and the Quebrada Gonzalez station entrance to Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is the largest national park in the country, and boasts a huge diversity of plant and animal life. Group 1 was leaving earlier, as they were going to visit the Arenal Volcano and the Arenal Hanging Bridges; what we will be doing on Wednesday. It would be the first time during the Biennial that we left the area of San Jose. I got a nice surprise as I ventured out into the parking area, Bus #4 now had its own, full-sized bus. When word spread that we would be altogether on one vehicle, first thing Bus #4 people said was “We need to get more beer.” If the biennial started like a roller coaster, the ride was about to make one incredible turn.

I have received messages, pm’s and emails, regarding what the overall feeling was in leaving the IMBioparque early. I can not answer for everyone who was involved, but I will say I felt two ways about it. First, I did not like the idea of having to wait through the presentations in order to have dinner. I would have liked to have watched them, but only on a full stomach. This was the main feeling shared with the rest of the group, with different levels of varying irritation being felt from person to person. Mostly, people wanted a choice and they didn’t get one. Secondly, I knew the presentations would be covered by someone of the majority so I could not pass on the opportunity to follow the Exodus and see where it would lead. Which, you have to agree, that it is a lot of fun to photograph and witness people in their element, doing what they want to do. I am sure the others in the group will have their own opinions as well.

- 6:03AM: Breakfast. The never ending and always enjoyable breakfast buffet put on by the hotel seemed to get a little better every morning. They changed the menu a bit so as to not let it get boring or repetitive. I began to notice on this, my second morning of the biennial, who people would like to sit with and how often attendees would float from table to table; like they would at the dinners.

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- 6:56AM: The hotel lobby was filled with members from Group 1, as they were getting ready to leave on their earlier trip to the northwest. I had about an hour to kill until our newly acquired bus would leave for our trip into the mountains. I wandered out into the parking lot to find Group 2 CRT Guides getting ready for the day. From left to right: Mario, Andres, Jorge (obscured), Daniel and Albert. If you look closely, Andres has a stapled stack of printouts in his hand featuring photos of each of the palm species we were likely to encounter. They were all taking turns looking it over and absorbing palm identification to better assist us during the day. They came a long way in a short while, and it was appreciated.

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- 7:02AM: I spent most of my time around the pool area at night, so I thought it would be nice to show what it looks like during the day. It was fairly well maintained, minus the hot tub. I never got to see the swim-up bar in use, but I am sure some attendees used it to the best of their ability.

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- Dive in, the water is nice and due to San Jose's altitude the weather was perfect and never too hot. To me it wasn't anyways.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

- 7:05AM: The poolside landscape held a few interesting surprises for the plant minded. This seemingly, unremarkable tree was often walked past as attendees moved to and fro around the corner of the pool near the ballroom. I'm sure many people did not give it a second thought. I was giving that puzzled, tilt-head look when I figured out this was Cacao, or Chocolate, Theobroma cacao.

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- I wondered if it would be in bloom or fruit, and to my surprise it was. It had a few pods on it, and was covered with blooms coming right off the branches. I have tried myself a few times to grow Cacao in South Florida, but the plants never survived the dry season and the winter very well. I will try again though.

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- 7:47AM: It was time to gather in the lobby for Group 2. We all made that trip back to our rooms to get our gear and met in the lobby. Every attendee had two stories to tell for every one they had heard. The mood was great and everyone was excited. As we were waiting, we saw one of Group 1's buses pull out.

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- 7:52AM: Those of us on Bus #4 said hello to our new movable home for the remainder of the week. It was very good to be all on the same bus, as planned. It got loud and the adrenaline began to flow as soon as 50% of the bus was full. Our Moderator Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean) boards the bus followed by IPS Director, past-President and Forum member Paul Craft (Licuala). Paul is thinking at this point, "How did I manage to get on this bus two biennials in a row?".

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Rain Forest Aerial Tram, Braulio Carrillo National Park

Group 2, Bus #4

- 7:59AM: I'll give you three guesses as to what is in the bag, the first two don't count.

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- 8:00AM: This was our scheduled departure time, but we weren't quite packed away yet. Attendees were stowing away what they could and taking their seats. On the left, Bus #4 attendee and FM. Kathryn Ostadal (Kathryn) holds up a bag full of beer and hands it down the line to the awaiting cooler at the rear of the bus.

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- 8:24AM: Is it too early for a beer? We left the hotel and made our way down a stretch of the Pan-American Highway. As we left the highway and entered a maze of streets and alleyways, I could swear I heard the familiar pop-noise of an opening beer can. <pshhhh!> This view from the valley was very clear and we could see the central mountain range that we will be crossing a few times during the week. Those three humps in the center of the photo belong to the Poás Volcano. We will be visiting that volcano on Thursday.

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- 8:29AM: Our bus driver was very experienced and knew the streets very well. He knew where to go to avoid traffic and which streets had plenty of room for a bus to make turns.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 03: Monday, May 5th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Rain Forest Aerial Tram, Braulio Carrillo National Park

Group 2, Bus #4

- 8:30AM: In the brief amount of time I've spent traveling, I try to make it a point to absorb history whenever I can; since I like to consider myself a student of History. When we entered the township of Heredia, on our way north into the mountains, I had a very short second to do just that. Our bus made a turn onto one avenue that bordered the famous Church of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest church in Costa Rica and currently the oldest church in Central America. Taking over 30 years to build, primary construction was completed in 1797 and subsequent additions were added a few years later. The time taken to 'get it right the first time' was well worth it; as the church's thick stone walls have made it withstand the earthquakes that have affected the region over the past 200 years. In case you were wondering, the Latin inscription near the top translates to "God is glorious in his thrown in heaven. And peace on earth".

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- 9:02AM: Within thirty minutes of traveling, we had left the metropolitan areas of the valley behind us and entered the central mountain range that separates the county in half. The road made incredible twists and turns, ups and downs as it followed the contour of the mountain slopes. I could sense the rapid change in altitude quite easily, as the highest point in my home area is about 14 feet (4.3m) above sea level.

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- The weather was superb and we could see for miles. The mountains were lush with plant life and I got that first full sensation of being in a Central American rainforest.

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- 9:04AM: A panoramic view of what we saw in full 3D. Even though the bus was turning and climbing, it was a great sight to behold for those of us not used to tropical mountain rainforests.

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Ryan

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