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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 10

Week 10

Wildlife wonders- Julia butterfly

On a recent walk back from the beach, we spotted one of these beautiful butterflies resting on a branch. It was slowly opening and closing its wings as if it was trying to cool itself down. It was a brilliant orange colour and it reminded me of the inside of a mango, which are just coming into season. These Julia butterflies are also called Flame butterflies and are about 8-9cms in width. I think we saw a male butterfly because they are a brighter orange, like the photo, and the female tend to be paler and with more black markings.

The main host plant for their caterpillars are passion vines and so they lay their eggs on or near these plants. The caterpillars are predominantly black with white dots along their body and their heads are orange with black eyes and mouth. They have long black spikes down their back so they can feel like stroking a stiff brush if you were to touch the caterpillar, which isn’t advisable because the spikes can cause a rash. The caterpillar will form a pupa and after about a week, the beautiful adult butterfly emerges to experience a whole new way of being and to see the world from a very different viewpoint.

Grenadian Gifts- Mango season

Over the last few weeks the mangos have been falling from the trees and they seem to be everywhere. The photo above is typical of the large mango trees in peoples’ gardens and by the roadsides. This mango tree is on the way to the local town, Sauteurs and you may just be able to see the orange mangos on the roadside near the base of the tree.

I’m learning that there are various types of mango, possibly up to about 40 different varieties and so I am just beginning to distinguish between them. The most common ones seem to be the small, stringy sort that get between your teeth when you eat them but are very juicy and sweet. These are the ones in the photo and people tend to leave them to rot by the side of the road as there are so many. But I’m happy to pick up a few nice looking ones on my way home as they are a great, sweet snack! Then there is the Julie mango which are the large green-red varieties that tend to be the ones sold in shops and these are big enough to slice up and are less stringy.

Hosten and I talked about planting a mango tree in the garden but we were warned that their roots travel a long distance and can affect the house foundations and we decided that the house has enough repairs as it is. However someone must have thrown a mango stone, possibly from the balcony, because there is now a mango tree growing at the side of the house. It is already about my height and so we will move it and plant it as far away from the house as possible. However, even without our own tree, there are plenty of mangos to pick up whenever we go out, at this time of year.

Reflections from the Retreat

The builders are continuing to do various jobs including tiling the bedrooms and fixing some leaks in the roof. I have been sorting through various boxes of paper work and work files. These have now been organised into my filing cabinet and I have created the beginnings of an office downstairs.

This week, I decided to move onto decorating and to start with the smallest room, the kitchen pantry. I first cleared out all the old kitchen items in there and sorted out what was worth keeping and then after a good clean, I started my first decorating of the house. The small pantry was a good size to not feel too overwhelming but the confined space made it hot work! As I unpacked paint brushes and rollers, it reminded me of the ‘ground breaking’ ceremony that happened on my first weekend here. A Chinese company are building a large hotel complex and golf course around the next bay to where I live. I visited when I first arrived and discovered that they were preparing for this ceremony by polishing spades for the dignitaries to hold for numerous photos to mark the start of the construction. As I first held a paintbrush it didn’t feel quite such a photo opportunity as the ground breaking event of a large hotel but it felt symbolic of starting the huge task of eventually painting the whole house, inside and out.

Another event which happened this week, was getting a flat tyre. You may have noticed, in the photo of the mango tree, that the local road is well tarmacked. Possibly due to the local hotel development or perhaps because it is part of the new government’s improvement plans, but since I’ve been here the local roads have all been resurfaced and so there are less potholes here than around my UK home. However the road leading up to the Hummingbird Retreat is still a very rough dirt track that isn’t kind to my tyres. The photo above shows this road and it is a very slow, bumpy ride up to the house. So I wasn’t totally surprised that the car developed a slow puncture. It’s times like this, when I realise that I have to learn how to do everything here and so I am grateful for new local friends who can advise where to go and what sort of price it might be. Thankfully I was able to drive the car to a nearby tyre repair place before the tyre became totally flat. They discovered a bit of bone which had punctured the tyre and had got stuck there. They were able to repair it quickly and cheaply and its good to know where they are because I may need them again one day!

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