Racine and I made it a collecting goal when we spent six months in Colombia in 1946. We looked far and wide for a favorable spot around Ocana, where Wallis had found it and where he had lost his life, in search of this Guzmania musaica, but the mountains, once a lush jungle were now nude and dry. From one section to another we went by horseback, by truck and on foot. For days we searched and finally gave up. To add to the difficulties involved, a precious book of Traveler's Checks joggled out of my pocket while wrestling with the horse over a steep trail. Or they may have been lost when I climbed up into a tree using the horse's back to reach the first limb where lodged a bromeliad. My horse did not seem to approve of this effort and sauntered off just as I was dangling in mid-air. Finally, I was able to take a specimen of Aechmea pubescens from high up in the tree and then spent five frantic minutes beating off hundreds of frantic, disturbed ants which literally covered me; possibly it was there that I lost our very much needed Traveler's Checks whose absence was discovered only much later. In disappointment that day we gave up hopes of finding the coveted G. musaica.
Two weeks later, however, on our way to the oil fields, we spied a tree trunk covered with just what we were looking for, G. musaica, but it was at dusk and we dared not linger, then, along the way as the fierce Motolone Indians haunted this area making it unsafe to be out even in the day time, not to mention after dark. All windows and doors in the cabins were covered with hardware cloth to prevent arrows from entering. All night I dreamed of those plants; at six in the morning I rushed out into the jungle and found the tree I had seen the day before. There, like a feast awaiting the hungry, were ten beautiful plants of G. musaica encircling the tree trunk in a spiral vine-like rhythm on their long stolons . . . and they were in flower! It was a rewarding sight, well worth all the discomforts and disappointments of the miles of dangerous searching.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]