Mexico’s Magnificent El Triunfo Reserve, Part 1
May 20th, 2010 by robert

El Triunfo. It’s a legendary place among birders because of two rare birds, horned guan and azure-rumped tanager, but it is so much more. Officially called La Reserva de La Biosfera El Triunfo, this biosphere reserve guards one of the few pristine wildernesses left in Mexico, including the largest contiguous cloud forest remaining in Mesoamerica.

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tripping home
May 1st, 2010 by robert

I wake light rising house sparrows jabbering in the verdant shadows like mexican abuelitas comparing travesties of past husbands and walk seven blocks past sleepy store openings and snorting buses and past a flatbed truck unloading its gristly pile of half-cows already swarming with flies into the market I cross to a chocolate factory for first and last chocolate con leche walk back to eat breakfast alone before colectivo arrives to carry me away too early to airport check pack no charge and take binoculars wander outside expecting grackles but finding plenty plus a lifer pass security with shoes on and full water bottle mount plane via stairs with last breath of oaxaca air to enter sterile time capsule that disconnects people from one reality and dumps them into another having endured various levels of abuse this time into mexico mexico chaos after three point five hours of nonstop animated chatter about make-up and lovers and qualquiera cosa between the two señoras seated next to me sounding like magpies or grackles or self-same sparrows not knowing I hablo español grounded again I eat last tacos al pastor check pack to alaska gratis again pass security with shoes and water to gate where boarding every person is patted down including frail old lady dressed in lime chiffon and carry-ons scrutinized by stern tsa sorts until ensued delay had them rush last fifty passengers including me without even checking boarding passes for long boring flight to L A where the full national paranoia blossoms in obtuse procedures interminable lines and pointless demeaning ignomities a man drops his windoze laptop on my shoeless foot before the xray machine which hurts like hell but the man is relieved my toes broke the fall of his dell then they pat me down once through portal despite green light and again with pen and wallet now in hand he finds ipod headphones in cargo pocket insists I go back and put them in a tray through the xray still holding up the long long cueue my shoes and pack hanging abandoned and cleared they pat me down yet again even though they cannot see the zapatista tshirt I wear underneath fuming I don shoes amidst others humiliated wondering is this how life should be until without further incident we fly to seattle and are disgorged post midnight into a shuttered airport with zombies walking aimlessly or lying prone on seats or floor but it all is familiar now and after four hours of mock sleep I buy a bagel with cream cheese and lox like usual and a triple shot short cappuccino to greet the day and know I am almost home.

Lagos de Montebello
Apr 28th, 2010 by robert

After going to Oventik I looked into going to another Zapatista caracol, La Realidad, which lies close to Laguna Miramar, a large, pristine lake surrounded by tropical rainforest. I would spend a night in the caracol, and the next day hike into the lake, through the jungle, to camp on its shore for a night.

Unfortunately there is an arduous journey to reach La Realidad that requires about eight hours standing in the back of a truck pounding down a rough dirt road. The journey itself did not put me off, but I was a little short on time because I (joy!) had managed to insert myself into a trip to the biosphere reserve El Triunfo. No, the journey was complicated by social unrest in the region. Not so long ago the federal government (the army) had evicted several Zapatista communities from the edge of the forest, in order to expand the Aguas Azules biosphere reserve. Paramilitary forces tied to the army also have been threatening Zapatista communities, or even attacking them. The region is tense. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 28th, 2010 by robert

San Cristobal is a hub of political activity in southern Mexico. Many non-profits are based in the town, working for all kinds of causes. The Zapatista rebellion of 1994 was directly felt in San Cristobal and the surrounding region spreading eastwards to the Lacondon forests. Although the Zapatista army is demobilized, it has catalyzed a vibrant political movement called La Otra Compaña. Spreading throughout Mexico, especially in indigenous communities, is the simple concept that the current government is bad government (mal gobierno), a government that is structured to support the interests of business and the wealthy. This is a worldwide concept. Its logical conclusion is that the political system does not work in the interests of the poor, and that an entirely new system needs to be built.

I decided to dig a little deeper, Read the rest of this entry »

Huítepec, a Scrap of Cloud Forest
Apr 27th, 2010 by robert

Huítepec is a well-known place among international birders. It has a fragment of cloud forest protected in a reserve close to San Cristobal, and cloud forests can be so much fun to bird! As well as crescent-chested warbler, various trogons and other cloud forest species, I was on the lookout for the fabled pink-headed warbler.

The first time I went to Huítepec I caught a ride to the entrance in time for it’s 9 AM opening, already late for birding. The gate was locked, and I waited. Read the rest of this entry »

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