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Jabuticaba – Brazilian Grape Tree

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You may have heard the idiomatic phrase, “Sour Grapes” but the grapes that we are talking about are definitely not sour. They are the most easily accessible grapes ever, because no jumping or climbing the tree is required. Now where would you find one? As the name suggests the Brazilian Grape tree is found in the states of Minas Gerias and Sao Paulo, in the south of Brazil. Other areas where similar species of the tree are found are Argentine, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The most common name used for the tree is Jabuticaba. The other known names are Jaboticabeira, Jabotica, Guaperu, Guapuru, Sabará, Hivapuru and Ybapuru(Guarani). Its scientific name is Palinia Cauiflora and belongs to Myrtaceae family. “Jabuticaba” derived its name from the word Jabuti meaning tortoise in Tupian language and Caba meaning place. The other name, Ybapuru has been derived from Guarani language and means fruit producing a crunching sound when bitten.

Ordinary Jabuticaba Tree with no Flowers or Fruit

Ordinary Jabuticaba Tree with no Flowers or Fruit

So what do these trees look like? They are usually tall trees with a height ranging from 12 to 45 feet. Jabuticaba leaves are salmon-colored when young; as they mature they turn green in color. The white colored flowers are grown directly from the trunk of the tree just like all other cauliflorous plants. The tree usually bears flowers and fruits once or sometimes twice a year, but if it is irrigated continuously, flowers and fruits are borne all year round especially in tropical regions. It is a slow growing tree that requires moist and slightly acidic soil to ensure its best growth. However, these trees are adaptable to almost all kinds of soil; it can even grow satisfactorily on alkaline soils like beach-sand.

The tree can tolerate mild frosts and some of its species are more tolerant to cold temperatures. Most of the commercial cultivation taking place in Northern Hemisphere may result in very slow growth because the temperature requirements are not fulfilled. As mention before that Jabuticabas are slow growing trees, it may take 10 to 20 years to bear fruits if seeded and in case they are grafted the fruits may take 5 years to grow. Due to their slow growth they are often used as bonsai. The trees are highly intolerant of soils containing salt and even salt sprays may affect their growth. Though the trees can grow in conditions like droughts but would result in reduced fruit production and extensive irrigation would also be required in such areas.

The fruits grown on Jabuticaba tree can easily be mistaken with plums or red grapes; that’s how it got its name Brazilian Grape Tree. They are 3 to 4 cm in diameter usually with four large seeds. The fruits grow directly on the branches and main trunk that gives a distinctive look to the tree. The fruits have thick, purple skin that protects the sweet, gelatinous flesh that is pink or white in color. The fresh fruits only last for 3 to 4 days after being harvested. This tasty fruit is commonly available in the fruit markets of Brazil and are usually eaten fresh because of their short shelf life.

Jabuticaba Tree with Flowers

Jabuticaba Tree with Flowers, notice how the flowers are attached directly to the trunk

What are the health benefits of Jabuticaba fruit? The fruit has been able to gain as much popularity as grapes in the U.S. Since ancient times the sun dried skins of the Jabuticaba fruits are used for the treatment of various diseases such as asthma, hemoptysis, chronic inflammation of tonsils and diarrhea. The fruit is also believed to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The sweet tasting fruit is now commonly being used in tarts and other baked products, jams, strong wines and other liqueurs. It is also used to make a refreshing summer drink which has a medicinal importance as well.

Jabuticaba Tree with Fruits

Jabuticaba Tree with Fruits which are also growing directly on the truck

Jabuticaba Tree with Ripened Fruits

Jabuticaba Tree with Ripened Fruits

The most amazing fact about this tree is that its fruits can be picked up straight from the trunk and eaten. You wouldn’t find fruits hanging on small branches but it would seem as if they are glued directly to the trunk and the big branches of the tree. Some viewers say that the fruits look like tiny insects crawling all over the tree. Also it is believed that it took thousands of years for the tree to evolve into the way it is today, enabling the small animals who were unable to climb the trees to have access to the fruit. These animals helped in increasing the population of the tree by scattering the seeds all over the forest.

If you ever get to visit South America make sure you take some time out to see these amazing trees. You can grow one too if you have a well heated greenhouse, though it will take a lot of years to grow but your effort would be worthwhile.

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Racetrack Playa – Death Valley California

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In the Eastern California lies the famous desert valley, The Death Valley. It is located in the Mojave Desert which is the driest land in North America and also the lowest. The area also holds record for highest air temperature i.e. 134 °F (56.7 °C) recorded on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek.

The valley has been inhabited by Timbisha tribe belonging to Native Americans for the past 1000 years. By that time the valley was also known as, “ Tümpisa” meaning “rock paint” in reference to the red ochre paint that is produced from clay found in that area.

In the year 1849, an English name, “Death Valley” was introduced during California Gold Rush. An amazing fact about the name of the valley is that prospectors and other people who crossed the valley in search of gold fields named it so, though only 1 death was recorded during the Gold Rush. Gold and silver were extracted during 1850s from the valley and later in 1880s borax was also discovered.

President Hoover in the year 1933 proclaimed Death Valley National monument as area under the Federal protection and this monument was designated as Death Valley National Park in year 1994, areas including Eureka and Saline Valley.

Sunset at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Sunset at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Nestled in the west of Death Valley National Park, between the Last Chance and Cottonwood ranges is the famous Racetrack Playa. Unlike any other racetrack this particular one contains a mystery within.

Why is it called Racetrack Playa? This area is famous for the scenic dry lakebed also called playa and sailing stones leaving track like imprints on the ground. It is a desert basin that temporarily serves as a lake that gets filled up with shallow water during rainy season and when the hot sun shines the water gets evaporated leaving behind a layer of soft smooth mud. Cracks appear as the mud dries out creating hexagonal mosaic patterns on the surface. These mosaics are almost an inch thick and 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Racetrack playa lies 3608 feet above sea level. It is exceptionally flat as the northern and southern ends have only a difference of 1.5 inches in height. Ubhebe is the highest peak surrounding it which is 5,678 feet high. The playa is almost 2 miles in width and 3 miles long. The beige colored mud surrounding the area is believed to be at least 1000 feet thick.

The route to racetrack begins from Ubehebe Carter and high-clearance vehicles are suggested for drive as the road is rough and uneven. The desert is fragile and therefore it is prohibited to drive off-track; moreover tracks left by vehicles remain there for years. The only natural vegetation found on the way includes 30 feet tall, Joshua trees that are often confused to be cactus plants. It will take only 20 miles to reach Teakettle Junction from where a straight road leads to the Racetrack playa.

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley California

What fascinate tourists the most are the secretly moving rocks on the dry surface of the playa that leave a long trail behind them

What fascinate tourists the most are the secretly moving rocks on the dry surface of the playa that leave a long trail behind them, without any animal or human intervention. These rocks are believed to move once in every 2 to 3 years and tracks that are left behind last for at least 3 to 4 years. Some rocks are believed to travel more than 1500 feet far.

No one has ever been able to see the rocks in motion and neither has it been captured by camera. However, many assumptions have been drawn regarding the movements of these rocks.

Some researchers claim that rocks are moved by strong winds in winters reaching a speed of 90 mph. Also there is little rain in winters that moistens the clay, making it slippery and enabling the rocks to move. The winds are directed from southwest to northeast and thus helps support this hypothesis as most of the trails are parallel to this particular direction.

Another assumption involves accumulation of rain water in the lake bed and freezing at night time forming a thin sheet of ice. The rocks get embedded into these ice sheets and then strong winds drag them across the slippery surface of the playa.

The tracks formed by the moving rocks are either straight or curvy and sometimes two similar tracks are formed side by side, giving an impression as if they are made by racing cars. Most of the moving rocks are equal to the size of a loaf and weigh up to 25 to 30 pounds. The heaviest rocks among them weigh more than 700 pounds and require a wind with a speed of 150 mph to set it in motion.

There are still many commentators who claim that the photos of the moving rocks are nothing more but digital fakes. There are also some who associate it with supernatural powers.

The place also offers opportunities for hiking lovers; the old miner’s 6 miles long trail to Ubehebe Peak and having an elevation of 1800 feet is an option worthwhile. Also some spectacular views of Racetrack Playa can be observed a short walk away from Grandstand parking area.

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Chamarel – Mauritius

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Pack up your bags because we have a perfect destination for your next vacation. Mauritius is known for its charming island and is nonetheless a paradise on this earth. This breathtaking island lies in the center of the Indian Ocean and is blessed with natural beauty. You can find amazing hotels hidden under the shadow of the magnificent trees of the rainforest; you can just enjoy the sun shining on the sandy beaches or just discover the astonishing marine life under the deep blue ocean. The place offers a lot of recreational opportunities such as historical sites and cultural events. Though it is the most developed island among the Mascarene Islands yet it is different from typical beaches with white sand, luxury hotels and spas. Why it is paradise on earth because it has to offer something for every person coming from diverse backgrounds. The island is also famous for its variety of French, Chinese, Indian and African cuisines.

Mauritius is divided into nine districts, it consists of one city, four towns and 130 villages, out of these villages Chamarel is a must watch. The village is believed to be named after a Frenchman Charles Antoine de Chazal de Chamarel who lived in this village in 18th Century. Currently it has the lowest population i.e. only 700. The major attractions in this village are Seven Colored Earth, the Chamarel Falls and a park named Black River Gorges National Park.

Chamarel The Land Of Seven Colored Sand in Mauritius

Chamarel — The Land Of Seven Colored Sand

The Seven Colored Earth located in the south western part of Chamarel is famous for its colorful sand dunes. Since 1960s it has been successful in attracting tourists all over the world. We all have witnessed rainbows in sky but if you want to experience rainbow on ground then this is the place to be. There are a variety of colors of sand found in this area including red, purple, violet, brown, green, yellow and blue. The land derived its name from these seven colors. No natural calamity effects the colors of these sand dunes, neither these colors fade nor do these sand dunes erode. All they do is bless the viewers with their magnificent views.

How did these sand dunes come into existence? They were created by the decomposition of volcanic rocks also known as, “Basalt”; the volcanic rocks then cooled down over time and further the weather changes gave them a shape of small dunes. It is believed that Iron sesquioxides are responsible for red color whereas Aluminium sesquioxides are responsible for purple and bluish tones of colors.

Another mysterious fact about the sand dunes is that if you’ll try to mix all the colorful sands they will again get separated into different layers of colors. The most dramatic view of these sand dunes can be observed at the time of sunrise. You can also buy some colorful sand from Curio shop and share this unique gift with your friends and family.

Rhumerie de Chamarel Mauritius

Rhumerie de Chamarel is famous for its sugar canes, pineapples and other tropical fruits lined along the road leading to it

Close to the Seven colored Earth lies the famous Rhumerie de Chamarel. This Rhumerie is famous for its sugar canes, pineapples and other tropical fruits lined along the road leading to it. The guests can encompass a guided tour to the distillery and also benefit from a chance of tasting the best quality rum of Mauritius. Chamarel is also well known for its coffee, which has been grown in the area since 18thCentury introduced by French East India Company and is only available at Café Chamarel.

The Chamarel Falls is another amazing gift of nature bestowed upon this beautiful village. It has been formed by River St. Denis and has a height of 272ft. The falls are surrounded by thick vegetation and can also be viewed from Black River National Park. The Chamarel Falls are claimed to be the, “Best waterfalls in Mauritius”. You can also choose to have a look at the waterfalls from the upper deck located at Seven Colored Earth reserve. A swim in the shallow water at the bottom of the falls can also be enjoyed.

Mauritius Chamarel Falls

The Chamarel Falls is another amazing gift of nature bestowed upon this beautiful village

The Black River Gorges National Park is the largest park of Mauritius and extends over an area of 6,754 hectares. If you are a seeker of natural beauty then this park is the place to be and is a best choice for hiking and bird watching. The world’s rarest forest is also located in its vicinity. Moreover the hiking trip in this park also includes complimentary picnic lunch and the entire package is for 55 Euro per person.