Meet Los Esotéricos

For those wondering who’s behind the words and images on Exotica Esoterica, some photos from the workplace in our Latin American offices.

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Peter Rockstroh getting ready for work in páramo near Bogotá, Colombia with his trusted companion, “The Shrimp”. This beast is a rather substantial combination of hardware including a 30+ lb, 115 year-old modified tripod originally designed to support a surveyor’s theodolite, capped by a Majestic tripod head, a Chamonix View 8” x 10 camera and a Schneider APO Symmar 360 mm lens for capturing extremely high-resolution macrophotographs. Its nickname stems from, “Acamera” es una cámara, but a cámara grande es uncamarón” (=shrimp) (Image: Wilson López).


Fred Muller photographing two inch-tall leafy liverworts and filmy ferns with a Nikon D750 DSLR on the edge of a cloud forest stream in the Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica (Image: J. Vannini).

Both Peter and Fred go to great lengths to achieve the results shown in their macro images on this website and elsewhere. As Peter says, “Obviously, there are simpler ways to do things. Maybe not better, just simpler”.

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Jay Vannini alongside a mature example of an “interesting” dwarf palm species growing in climax cloud at an undisclosed location in Central America (Image: F. Muller).


Fred eyeing the remains of a airplane downed in an accident in 1969 being claimed by nature almost 50 years later at a very isolated spot somewhere in the Caribbean highlands of Central America. Wreckage from plane crashes, many of mysterious origin, litter cloud forest localities throughout Mesoamerica. This one belonged to a regional air transport company (Image: F. Muller).


Peter caught accosting a frailejón (Espeletia sp.) with a montane princess flower (Tibouchina sp.) in the background at Páramo del Tablazo, Cundinamarca, Colombia (Image: Richard Monteiro).

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Jay taking a breather around midnight with a sociable adult spotted glass frog (Sachatamia albomaculata) at a cloud forest site in the Chiriquí highlands, Panamá (Image: F. Muller).


Ing. Juan José Castillo Mont is an old and dear friend of all three of us. As a Universidad de San Carlos professor he has mentored two generations of Guatemalan botanists and agronomists and is an indefatigable instructor in field and classroom. His knowledge of Mesoamerican flora is encyclopedic and he is generous in sharing it. JuanJo is well known to botanical researchers and conservation biologists throughout the region and has, among other things, coauthored the descriptions of several noteworthy Mesoamerican palm species. We have all spent a fair amount of time in the field with him over the past decades both in Guatemala and elsewhere in the region, and he has helped shaped our views on the complexity of native ecosystems and their conservation challenges. Here, he is shown examining a piece of Philodendron dolichophyllum at a megadiversity rainforest site in the Caribbean lowlands of Panamá and framing a cultivated Peruvian Amazon Anthurium pendulifolium at a private collection in southwestern Guatemala (Image: J. Vannini).

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JuanJo, Jay and Fred heading out from an endangered amphibian field research station located in the Sierra del Merendón, Izabal, Guatemala (Image: J. Vannini).

Peter, Fred and Elleanthus maculatus, Cundinamarca Department, Colombia (Image: R. Antolak).

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