NOTE: You can left-click on any picture to enlarge it and/or view all the photos as a slideshow. (Most definitely you will want to enlarge the pictures of the GIANT SPIDER I found while out walking the property!)
We are all looking forward to the day when the first PROJECT BUCHANAN school building is completed, so that classes can begin here on the new campus--perhaps as early as next school year!
|This is what can be seen of the PROJECT BUCHANAN property from a hill not far away. The building off to the left is not on our land, but the blue roof is a giveaway--that's the house where the New Jersey team worked so hard this summer, putting in windows and ceilings.|
|Since this is a clear sunny day--which is not that common in the middle of the rainy season--, let's go for a short walk along the water's edge on the PROJECT BUCHANAN property.|
|The tropical morning air is humid and still, and the Benson River on the south shore is quiet and peaceful. This view down an overgrown trail is particularly beautiful.|
|From higher ground on the rounded ridge of the peninsula, the view down to the water and across to the other side is pristine. Rarely is a day in the humid tropics as clear as this!|
|Suddenly I notice something suspended motionless between the branches of the trees. Wow! That must be one of the largest spiders I have ever seen! We will have to come here later to check this out!|
|Well finally... here I am in one of these many report pictures! Actually, this is a flashback to 2010, when Paula and I were in Liberia for the summer. So she must have taken this shot...|
|...and now I guess I have the camera back! On this overcast afternoon, Paula and I were having a look at the footings that had just been cast for the first PROJECT BUCHANAN school building.|
|We were already excited! From that 100-ft X 30-ft concrete rectangle in the ground would rise the walls of the first classrooms on the new campus...|
|...and now, two years later, here are those walls! When we arrived in Buchanan this summer, Flomo was just finishing this work!|
|This is the west end of the school, with the front of the building (right) overlooking the river down the slope.|
|At the center of the building, between the two middle classrooms, there is a breezeway (right half of photo) going from the front porch to the back of the school.|
|The two classrooms at the east end of the building are pretty much a mirror image of the two classrooms at the west end.|
|Let's take a look out one of these windows at the building's east end...|
|...Recognize that area? That's the lavatory building where the New Jersey team was installing drain pipes earlier (see my last post). In October, when the heavy rains start to taper off, Flomo will be casting the floor slab out there.|
|"Wait a minute! Isn't that spider out there somewhere among those trees?"...|
|..."Thanks for reminding me! Let's go find it again! I think biology field trips are going to create themselves around here...starting now!"|
|"Look up... there it is!"|
|"Wow! That thing's as big as my hand!"|
|"Isn't that amazing? Beautiful, even! Looks like one of those relatively common golden silk orb-weaver spiders!"|
|A week or so later, on a very overcast day, I found that the spider was still there! Well, where did I think it would go? In this sheltered spot between the trees, the days are not too hot and the nights are never cold. It rains almost every day, so there's no danger of dehydration. And since she doesn't move around a whole lot--yes, it's a 'she', because the males of this genus are much smaller!--, she really doesn't need much food. In fact, to conserve energy, these spiders eat their damaged webs and in this way recycle the materials needed to make new strands of silk. So time is on her side, but sooner or later some hapless flying thing--maybe even a small bird!--will blunder into her golden trap, and then she will be able to nourish those eggs inside her. When the time is right, she will descend to the ground to lay them in the leaf litter. Eventually she will die, but by then her offspring will be climbing up into these same trees to repeat the complex, instinctive behaviors of their parents.|
Hey, before I let you go... Would you like to watch a short, one-minute tutorial on how to get your car started when all else fails and you know the battery is just about gone? Here's my friend Prince to give you a few pointers that he's picked up along the way! While we were in Buchanan, he used this method several times, and it always worked! Your off-camera, play-by-play commentator will be Jason Young...
To start the video, just click the "Play" button (bottom left)... To make the picture bigger, click the "Full screen" button (bottom right)... You may need to turn up the volume on your computer!