How Thai Orchids changed for me
I remember my first encounter with orchids, delicate but magnificent creatures of the Macchu Picchu cloud forest. Quite large, even tiny, colorful, shaped like dragons or sensual lips.
And then seeing them hanging from pieces of tree bark on the walls of different houses and hearing how they were complicated, difficult and that they didn´t flower easily. I used to have a friend who was a total fan of orchids, I actually think she´s a now a biologist specializing in orchids. They were always magical and splendorous for her. And so that is how I saw them too.
Until I came to Thailand.
There were orchids growing in restaurants and eateries, hanging from trees along streets filled with smog, hanging from motorcycle handlebars tied up with red ribbon, they decorated spirit houses and when I couldn´t believe it anymore I saw huge bags full of harvested orchids; violet ones, orange ones, pink ones, in stalks of six or eight flowers, all thrown on the sidewalk in front of flower stalls with buckets full of dyed carnations in pink and blue. They were just lying there like there was no special place for them. But that was on a sidewalk on Sukhumvit Road, at the flower markets, they are displayed better.
In all truthfulness, I was dumbstruck with so much easy orchid, and after two years I decided it was time to have one of my own. In a unexpected moment while shopping for pots and coconut mulch for my lychee trees, I saw the heaps of hanging orchids in dry coconut shells. I chose one at random and took it home for 100 baht, or 3 dollars. Less than what a ceramic pot cost me.
That orchid plant arrived at home a bit injured, with a twisted flower stem that did not manage to grow at all. I also didn’t know where to put it, if on the balcony under the awning, or in the patio con half a day of sun, or inside the house…nor what water to water it with! A couple of times I even watered it with bottled water.
Finally a couple of months after and alot of leaf growth, a new flower stem started to sprout and today my orchid has 8 identical violet flowers and a whole other flower stalk that bloomed last week. This kind of orchid is the most common, the kind you can find in any market stall, ready for temple offerings, and spirit houses and Chinese altars. If I’m not wrong there are pretty big orchid farms up north in Chiang Mai.
Well, I guess that’s the reason my orchid was so easy to take care of? I water it about once a week, when it rains I put it out to soak up the downpour and it’s happy that way. So since it wasn’t that hard to take care of the Thai orchid, one day at the local fair I saw a really gorgeous mini orchid in a plant and flower stall. I took it home after some haggling, they were much nicer than the other orchids so the price was quite higher. The flowers stayed opened for almost two months and now it has a new stalk sprouting.
So that is how I ended up changing my vision about these little flowers, so fine and so pretty. You could say that I learned a lot about them, trying to take care of them. But not only of them but other plants in general. Thank you orchids for lying to me all those years, only that way could I get to know them properly.
La orquídea llegó medio herida con un tallo de flores creciendo entreverada en si misma y no logró florecer. Yo tampoco no sabía donde ponerla, si en el balcón bajo el toldo, o en el patio con mediodía de sol, o adentro de la casa….ni con que agua regarla! Un par de veces la regué con agua embotellada. Finalmente un par de meses después y harto crecimiento de hojas, empezó a brotar el primer tallo de flores y hoy mi orquídea tiene ocho flores idénticas a las de la foto y un tallo más que salió la semana pasada. Esta orquídea es la más común, la que encuentras en todos los mercados, en atados para los templos, casitas de espíritus y altares a dioses chinos. Si no me equivoco hay unas grandes granjas de orquídeas de éste tipo en Chiang Mai.
Y así es como terminé cambiando mi visión sobre estas florcitas tan raras y bonitas. Se podría decir que aprendí bastante sobre ellas, intentando cuidarlas. Y no solo de ellas si no de otras plantas en general. Gracias orquídeas por mentirme tantos años, solo así pude conocerlas mejor.