In the transition zone between weedy, hacked-over scrub down below and open oak forest higher up a conspicuous member of the Bromelia Family appeared. You may remember the abundandant bromeliads gracing tree limbs at Yerba Buena in the Chiapas uplands. The species encountered on Cerro de Cruz Grande differed from those species both by being terrestrial and by growing much larger. You can see ours
This is Piñuela (pee-nyoo-EH-la), BROMELIA PINGUIN. In the picture Andrés is holding in his hand the thing that makes the plant famous in these parts: Some tasty fruits. You can see a close-up of the fruits below:
Piñuelas were common in the scrub back in the Yucatan and I always wanted
to sample a fruit but never got to. I thought my failure to find a fruit was because I
always left the Yucatan before the fruits ripened but now I suspect it was because I
didn't know you had to dig down into the leafy debris gathered in the plant's center, as
shown in the first photo. Andrés knew exactly where to thrust his hand into the clutter,
though, and came up with fruits his first try.
"If you're gathering firewood and you cut yourself so that the blood just runs down your arm," he said, "you go collect this fuzz. Spread it over your cut as if it were a bandage, and it'll stop the bleeding."
In the scrub around Sabacché Piñuelas are abundant, but in August, the middle of the rainy season, there are no fruits, just the soft fuzz.