Different Rhythms: Birding and Travel
Apr 22nd, 2010 by robert

For the last day I have been hanging in Tuxtla, the big, hot capital city of Chiapas, waiting for another piece of the travel puzzle to fall into place.  There are only eight days until I fly home. I arrived in Tuxtla after two days of intensive birding with the friendly guides I met in El Triunfo, an incredible place I have not written about. Yet.

Sitting in limbo, I’ve been thinking how birding and international travel are essentially diametrically opposed activities. Two days ago we traveled by car to Puerto Arista, on the Pacific coast of Chiapas, to look for giant wrens and a couple of other southern Mexico specialty birds. We drove down a road with scattered houses and fields, and occasionally we would stop, get out with our binoculars, and scan the bushes. One time we stopped to identify some parrots that landed in a tree. I looked down and noticed people at the house were grouping around a window to observe us observing the birds. I said buenas tardes, but thought how strange to pass through a community without really seeing it. Greeting our onlookers opened a door, and a woman and her son came up to us. I explained what we were doing, and showed her pictures of the birds we sought. She recognized all of them and told us their local names, what time of day they sing, and where to look for them.

I haven’t completely digested this conundrum yet, but it seems like there might be a better way to bird while traveling, such that the richness of travel itself is not missed. The species  list may not grow as rapidly, but so what? Birders, what do you think?

Of course you can avoid the issue completely by going to places where there are no people or culture. That’s what I am doing this afternoon. I leave for another five days in a biosphere reserve called El Ocote. Nos vemos pronto.

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