This weekend we drove out of town and through the mountains to the nature preserve on the Ruta Sierra Juarez near the community of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji. The cost to enter the preserve is just 20 pesos a person (about $1/person) and the money helps maintain the area. It's an incredibly healthy forrest with tons of plants and wildlife. At the gate the park ranger motioned to a guy standing next to her and asked us "podria dale un paseo?" and we said "por supuesto!" We can give him a ride, no problem. So that's how we met Pedro. We chatted for 15 minutes about Oaxaca, his family, where we were from...the usual, then dropped him off to meet some of his friends and continued on our way to find the Cabeza de Vaca trail in the cloud forrest.
Ever since reading the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orleans, I've had a major crush on these little guys. It always seems like such a tragedy to find them for sale in supermarkets, dyed unnatural colors only to wither quickly outside of their preferred environment. I've always thought of orchids as very delicate flowers, and in a way they are - they require very specific and careful attention. But here, in this humid yet somewhat cool environment they totally flourish.
To actually walk down a path in the woods where orchids and bromeliads were healthily growing on trees was such a cool experience. I loved to see them in the wild, right where they belong.