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  • karenleehall


Updated: Sep 16, 2023

I live where bamboo grows. It sprouts in a spray like fireworks caught in a snapshot. Visually dramatic, it is 3 stories high. Tall and reedy and not at all like trees. I grew up with maple trees and birch. With all the pine trees, with oak and elm.

Here we are in the middle of hot, humid, tropical rain forests full of bamboo. Local people grow up with bamboo - in their back yards, along the roads, lining the rivers and creeks. Their houses are shaded by bamboo. It is as natural here as maple trees back home.

A maple would be an impossible transplant here. No cold winter to offer it rest from growth and encourage its sap in the spring. Sometimes I need some cold to refresh myself from the wilt of the day. I never thought I’d say this, but yay AC.

Back to maple trees – they wouldn’t survive here – they couldn’t invade this ecosystem. They know where they belong, and that’s where they live.

I wonder if I’m an invasive species, part of a larger transplant that has begun to take over Costa Rica. When I first came, the cultural environment was totally Costa Rican. Delightfully foreign (to me). Now there are signs in English and home style from international design magazines. North American culture is infiltrating Costa Rica.

Sigh. Bamboo knows where to grow, as do maple trees. Are we clueless?

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