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Jacaranda in Argentina

"To the east and to the west
it’s raining and will rain
a blue flower and another 
from the jacaranda

The sky in the sidewalk 
has been drawn 
with foam and silk paper
from the jacaranda…"

(Jacaranda Song by Maria Elena Walsh)

For those who were raised in Argentina, these words bring memories of childhood, of songs we used to listen and sing a hundred times, and of course memories of the jacaranda trees that lined the streets and decorated the sidewalks of Buenos Aires with their lilac carpet.
Eritrea bill with JacarandaI couldn’t have imagined then that the jacaranda tree is as popular in Africa as it is in South America, and that Ethiopia and Eritrea are filled with these trees. As a matter of fact, the drawing of a jacaranda decorates the 5 Nafkas bill of Eritrea.

Much less, that I was going to build a family adopting children from Ethiopia and in Portland, USA, so far away from the jacaranda trees of my childhood. Because in this beautiful city, we have pine trees and cedar trees, oaks and maples. but none of those gorgeous trees that cover the city landscape with blue flowers, the weather is too cold for them here.

Jacaranda in AfricaHistory tells that the jacaranda, an endemic tree from Argentina, was first introduced in South Africa in the year 1888 by J.D. Cilliers that took 2 specimens from Rio de Janeiro to Pretoria to plant them in his own garden. The tress became so popular that in 1898, James Clark, an horticulturist, signed a contract with the government of the city to plant hundreds of trees. The trees adapted so well that nowadays Pretoria has over 50.000 of them and it’s even called the Jacaranda City. This tree is very popular all over Africa.

There is a legend in the Argentinean province of Corrientes that tells the story of the origins of the jacaranda tree. According to the tale, there was a Spanish girl named Pilar with dark hair and blue eyes that emigrated to Argentina and settled in the Corrientes province with her father. There she fell in love with a native, Mbareté. The father of the girl disapproved the romance so the two of them had to run away together and built a hut by the river. After hiding there for a while, they were discovered by the jealous father Jacaranda flowerwho in a rage killed them both and left their bloody bodies on the ground. The next day showing remorse for what he had done, the man came back to the place where the killing took place, but he discovered that the bodies were no longer there. In their place grew a beautiful tree with a strong trunk and blooming with blue flowers. The man then understood that God felt mercy for the lovers and that’s why He turned the young man into a beautiful tree and that the eyes of his daughter were looking at him in every blue flower.

So when I travel to Ethiopia to get my children, in some way I will be going back to the landscape of my childhood and with luck I will get there to see the jacaranda trees in full bloom, modest trees that once a year explode with color.

I leave you a link to a video of two beautiful jacaranda trees blooming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHBYwIqMyjg