The big island seems to alternate between vast swaths of barren lava sheets, lush jungle, and scrubby desert hillside. Seeing how the micro climates change from one place to another has been fascinating, and one of my favourite aspects of the trip has been discovering the range of plants that characterise each one.

My absolute favourite has been a tree system we found on the northeast side of the island. I call it a system because although it appeared to be a single tree, it had no single trunk or central core—instead it was a complicated tangle of trunks and roots and branches that anchored it to the ground and propelled it upward and melded into great magnificent ropes of living tree. We climbed inside and around it like kids in the most marvellous treehouse ever.

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