01 April 2006

Umbrella Birds Inspire Bad Mood Woman To Remember Another Life Disappointment!

In searching for a picture of an Umbrella bird, I came across this page about Costa Rican tourism and birding and read this excerpt:

"Not today. We wait 30 minutes, maybe more. It is approaching 4:30, dark shadows spread across the forest floor. No umbrellabird. Not even a plain antvireo to break the monotony. The bellbird is still bonking from somewhere far away. Liddy rests her aching sacroiliac on a log. Melvin toots the coke bottle. The prospect of retracing the steep and winding trail in the dark looms. No hooms today. Howler monkeys don’t count. We head back for the station. Tomorrow is another day, Melvin assures us. We will come early.

"Ten minutes down the trail we encounter Robert, the station keeper, followed closely by two guys who have the confident look of people who know exactly what they are doing. One has an $800 pair of Swarovski binoculars clipped to a shoulder harness. Robert and his buddies are moving at a breathless pace up the steep slope headed for the lek we have left behind. Much later in the dining hall at the station we get the story.

"It is the old story: we should have stayed. Around 5 o’clock the umbrellabirds appeared, they put on a spectacular display with their brilliant red chest sacs fully inflated and lots of hooms. We can only sit and fume at the smug descriptions."

Almost the same thing happened on another trip I'm extremely grateful for: when I went to Uganda, Africa in 1997. I knew what I was doing was special, but the farther I get from that experience, I know, I'll just feel more and more fortunate for it, secondly, knowing a tiny piece of Africa only makes me want to see, know and do more there. Anyway.

So, I went on a Habitat for Humanity trip there. While I was there, I made friends with Beth and Amy. Beth was, then, a 37 year old nurse in Chicago and Amy a 27 (probably alcoholic) lawyer. So, there we were, three decades of (2) women and a girl, with our flight home approaching and none of us wanting to leave. We found a safari for $500 for 7 days. I called my parents at what was 4am their time. I asked my mom, she asked my dad what he thought, to which he (intelligently) responded, "well, she's already there...". Wired money, an awkward moment with a man taking covert pictures of me at the bank, and a few slices of pizza later, we were picked up and whisked off to a national park. Just us three white midwesterners and, Jeffery, our driver and soon to be friend. God, it kicked ass!!!

The story I'm indending to tell here is this one: After a night of drinking (of course) Beth, Amy and I rise at Jeffery's beckon and roll out of bed in and into our Range Rover. Today's goal was lions. We got up around 4, because the cats like the cool of the morning. I mean, for the dudes, those manes are BIG! So we drive out into the reserve. This beautiful expanse of African grasses. We drove around bushes for a while (they like to camp out under them (I got nervous, because what if we DID see one and it hated our guts? Or was...um...hungry?!). (Not that I'd be much to eat, I hated the food. Everything was deep fried in peanut oil for the previous 2 weeks of our stay and I lost some serious weight. Thank goodness I never had issues with eating or I may have never returned to the US ;) .)

Anyway, we drive off the track for vehicles because we're just shit out of luck. A truck of lovely Brits follows close behind. Driving, driving. We see a MASSIVE anthill with an Impala's (I'm sure a very nice Impala, but we all have a purpose, right?) LEG on it. This makes us think: lions. Although the leg did look a little old. We drove for a while longer and finally turned it in and turned around. The Brits stuck it out.

So a little later, we're at breakfast and we rehash the morning's events with the Brits. They drove for about 20 more minutes and saw a lion AND a lioness! I gave them my address and they sent me the photos they captured of these amazing animals. I had it hanging in my freshman year dorm room to remind me to keep driving.

So, not really a life disappointment, more of a fabulous (and addicting) adventure. But wow, we were so close!

This makes me want to write more stories. The hippo at dinner story; the frog in my bed in CR story; the elephant charging us story. I could go on. But, alas, I have to go to work.

I'm happier now.


At 11:35 PM, Anonymous M&D said...

Please write your stories. You have wonderful photos to illustrate them too. You have a way with words too. Your parents will love reading them, but more importantly, YOU will love reading them later. If you eventually have progeny, they will be blown away by what their mother, grandmother did when she was their age.

At 4:06 AM, Blogger Susie said...

M&D That's why I want YOU two to write your stories! Because I'M blown away by them. I'm so glad Grandpa got around to writing his down. I think we'll be glad for it for generations to come, too. Thanks for the encouragement. You're simply, completely, hands down, the best. I love you!


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