Q & A
For the week of December 7, 1998

q.gif (241 bytes) Is there more grass, sand, or dirt in the rainforest?
Mi-mi M., New Jersey, USA
a.gif (169 bytes) by Shefaali Desai...University of Pennsylvania...12/01/98 from Queensland

The crowns of trees in the rainforest form a canopy. This canopy blocks sunlight from the ground. Because of this, grass, which needs direct sunlight to grow, can’t survive in the rainforest.

Sand is formed when quartz, a rock in the earth’s crust, is broken up into very tiny particles. When trees in the rainforests drop their leaves on top of the soil, which contains sand, the leaves prevent sand from building up like it would in a desert or on a beach. Since there is no grass or sand build-up to cover the dirt, you would find more dirt in the rainforest.

q.gif (241 bytes)Do you like being in the rainforest?  Do you get to eat some normal food?
Rachel D., New Jersey, USA
a.gif (169 bytes) by Robert Sgroi...University of Richmond...12/02/98 from Queensland

I like living in the rainforest. There is an incredible variety of plant life all around us. There are at least two hundred species of trees per hectare in the tropical rainforest (a temperate forest holds ten to twelve tree species).

At any time of the day there is some type of wildlife walking around the Center. Usually we can hear birds calling; at night we occasionally see a few hundred bats flying overhead; pythons like to use the same footpaths that we do, and there are numerous small mammals around.

We’ve also been able to take advantage of the waterfalls, swimming holes, and rainforests hikes that this area has to offer.
When we cook enough food, it is all you can eat, three meals a day. At the moment, mangoes are in season; they are a sweet, orange fruit—not quite as large as a softball. We’ve also had a taste of crocodile meat at a crocodile harvesting farm, but that is not usually on our menu.

We occasionally have lychees, which have the consistency of a grape with a thin coating. I’ve developed a sweet tooth for passion fruit—it’s small with a thick skin and the seeds inside are the edible part. There is food which grows in our backyard, including bananas and japodecaba (from which jam can be made). Froot Loops are about twice as big as the ones in the U.S. A couple of other great foods here are yabby; this is the smaller version of our lobster, and the jackfruit, which can be the size of a watermelon and is eaten in easily separated sections.

q.gif (241 bytes) Does anyone get sick?  Do they use medicine from bottles or medicine from plants?
Ed and Doug, New Mexico, USA
a.gif (169 bytes) by Rae LeGrone...University of North Carolina...12/01/98 from Queensland

Some people have become sick while they were here. Usually, it’s nothing serious, just the body’s reaction to a tick bite or being tired.
We use medicines from bottles for headaches,colds, or flu. The hospitals around here also use the same medicines as they do in the United States. However, some people still use aboriginal medicines and rainforest plants to cure minor health problems.

For bug bites called "scrubage" that itch much worse than mosquito bites, we use tea tree oil that comes from native plants. I even used latex from a plant to heal a small cut. It’s amazing what can be found in the rainforest; you only need a good guide to show you around!