Empanada in Paradise

I love the tropics. As I write this, I am drinking a passion fruit juice from fruit picked a block away. The chicken empanada cost me about 50 cents. There is a foot long iguana in a mangrove a few feet above my head. I cannot express how happy that makes me.

This is a biologist’s dream. Multiple factors—high energy sunlight, relatively stable climate, landmass confluences—contribute to fast growth and extreme biodiversity in the belt around the equator. There’s just so much life here. Even if you don’t care for the heat, or the bugs, you gotta love this place.

I’m off to a place where the rainforest meets the beach and looks postcard-stupidly-pretty. Delicious fruit and weird animals run wild. If that ain’t your cup of mate, no worries. Enjoy wherever you are. If it is—don’t get jealous. Get studious. There’s work to be done in places like this, if you’ve got the skills and expertise. I’m an ecologist by training, and a herpetologist by preference, and there’s no shortage of things scaly or slimy here. And more different birds than you can shake a field guide at. New species are found more often than you think, and we need to keep our fingers on the pulse of this fragile and disappearing ecosystem. Ecologists, take note.

There are scarlet macaws flying overhead. The butterfly that just went by was iridescent blue and size of my hand.

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