Mechanic Work = Flowers

About a year and a half ago, Humberto broke down in Las Lomitas on a Sunday afternoon. He had a classic Honduran work truck, a 1980-something 4-cylinder Nissan pickup - frame bent , headlights busted, metal cage around the bed, exhaust constantly emitting a cloud of varying color and rhythm, leaf springs suspiciously unspringy. However the real problem was the front right wheelbearings... or sudden lack of them. The wheel in question would not be turning any longer. I brought down my socket set, and set to work with about 5 other quasi-mechanics. Between the 6 of us, we the managed the know-how, muscle, and colorful Spanish euphemisms necessary to remove the offending rusty thing within a couple of hours. Triumphantly clutching his rust ball in one hand and a motorcycle's flimsy grab bar in the other, Humberto putted on towards Los Caminos on the back of a friend's little one-cylinder motorcycle, promising to return early the next morning.

Needless to say, the truck stayed in the ditch where it was resting.

Early the next day, Humberto returned on foot with a new, slightly less rusty thing that seemed to be of roughly the same size and function. We reassembled the Mechanical Dream Team and, via verbal and physical mistreatment, managed to scare the replacement part so badly that it finally slipped on. After re-inflating the tires and topping off the coolant reservoir with dirty water (part of the start-up routine for any decent Honduran vehicle), the beast cranked to life and smoked, rattled, and coughed its way down the road free of any need for alignment.

Throughout our little shade-tree antics, I got to know Humberto a little bit. He lives in the next town down (Los Caminos) and owns a large flower farm on the edge of Las Lomitas that specializes in gingers and heliconias. Twice a week he convinces his truck to make the 4-hr trip to Tegucigalpa where he sells the flowers at a profitable rate to hotels, businesses, and exporters. Very grateful for the miraculous appearance of a socket set in Las Lomitas, he offered me some offsets (young plants from rhizome) from his farm. I had been looking for some flowers for the yard, and Stacey and I both love the huge, long-lasting, tropical flowers of gingers and heliconias. So I happily said yes. Within a couple of months I found myself out on his beautiful farm, spade and shovel in hand, digging up offsets for transplant to our yard. Now a year later, here are the results.

Upright Red Heliconia.
Lobster Claw (Hanging) Heliconia and Red Ginger.
Green Orchid.
'Wild' Orange Heliconia, common on Honduran roadsides and forest edge.
'Shampu' Gingers. Strange waxy inflorescence that produces smaller attractive flowers like the one on the right.
Large Red Heliconia. This particular inflorescence is about 2 feet tall.

Flame of the Forest.
Upright Yellow Heliconia.
All is under the shade of banana plants and a negrito tree. The negrito has a developing monstera deliciosa vine, my personal favorite plant whose leaf provides this website's logo. Front gate is on bottom left of photo.
Arrangements like this last for nearly three weeks, even in the tropics.

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