Monday, September 28, 2009

Dr. Seuss Goes Birdwatching

Before Julia and I left for Minca, we were perusing her guidebook for helpful things to see and do. The book mentioned that aside from organic coffee and picturesque walks through the jungle, Minca was also known for its many, many birds. Julia's guidebook devoted almost an entire page just to cataloging bird names. Among others, the book listed: the chesnut piculet, the blue-knobbed curassow (which to me sounded more like a cocktail than a bird), the tyrian metaltail, and the brown-rumped tapaculo, not to be confused with the Santa Marta tapaculo. Now, I couldn't tell you what a brown-rumped tapaculo looked like if my life depending on it, but with a name that could come right out of a Dr. Seuss book, how could it not be ridiculously cool?

We spent Saturday just wandering around Santa Marta, exploring the town and then heading off to the beach. It was hot and steamy, but the water was exactly the right temperature, and cleaner than the water along Cartagena's beaches. Saturday night we had the most amazing Mexican food I've had since the last time I was in California. After that we wandered down to a different beach and made some new friends from our hostel.

Sunday morning we wandered through the market, trying to find the bus that would take us to Minca. After getting lost among juice stands and bicycle-repair shops for awhile, we found the "bus" to Minca. The small car looked like it had been made long before the Berlin Wall came down, but Julia and I squeezed in along with 4 other passengers, and we headed off to Minca.

The walk through the jungle was perfect. We walked about an hour away from the town of Minca, scouting for birds. We'd decided to name at least one bird for ourselves, but there didn't seem to be any around. Our destination was a pool and waterfall which used to be a sacred site for the Koguis, the tribe which inhabited the mountains before the Spanish came. The pool was beautiful...the water freezing. After our swim, we sat out on the sunny rocks to dry. Suddenly I started to notice several red dots appearing on the tops of my legs. I looked on the backs of my legs and realized they were covered. Julia and I had been attacked by jenenes, tiny mosquitos that you can't see but which cause deep bites. It was time to go

On the way back, we kept looking around for birds, hoping to see something that we could christen. Alas, the only thing we saw was a rooster. Rooster jungle pigeon...? Tomayto-tomahto. Perhaps the elusive jungle pigeon will have to wait until the next time. Maybe after my jejene bites heal, I'll consider going back.