A coastal forest on the Dominican Republic’s Southeastern coast. Sea level.
The coastal forest where Lidia grew up is now part of a national park. Its floor is primarily limestone bedrock, and there is a very thin layer of red top soil and sand. In between cactus, “judío” and “buena madre” are cenotes that provide water for the entire village and all of the resorts in the neighboring area. She points out the “almáciga” tree. Its wood is used to start fires, but in the 1980s, she said that it was the tree that was used to make boats to escape to Puerto Rico. The authorities stopped the practice, and now they call the tree “gringo,” because of its red peeling skin – a reference, she said, to the all- consuming tourist industry which both protects the plant life of the area, while consuming enormous amounts of water, and limiting her community’s access, too.