Feb 10, 2008
Celestún and National Personalities in Jokeland
Do you know what flamingos sound like? No, not like the theme to Miami Vice. More like Canadian geese.
Yesterday was birding mania at Reserva de la Biosfera Celestún -- flamingos, cormorants, sea ducks, pelicans, Mexican eagles, and many more I don't know. Too bad I didn't have Stew the birder* along for the three-hour boat tour of the coastline and estuary.
But I still managed to enjoy myself -->
Fellow tourists: a family from St. Paul, MN; Katya and Jacek from Poland (but currently living in Hamburg) and Rocio from D.F. (aka "Mexico City"). Wilberth, our Yucatecan captain and guide, spoke no English. So Rocio and I did most of the interpreting while Wilberth told us about area's biology and geography. Rocio had the Spanish and a good bit of English. I had some Spanish, all the English, and some biology and earth science -- useful for discssions about saltwater invasion, mineral uptake, water coloring from mangroves, etc.
Now, for more jokes about national personalities:
Heaven and Hell
In Heaven: the Italians greet you, the French feed you, the policemen are British, and the Germans run the trains. In Hell: the French greet you, the British feed you, the policemen are German, and the Italians run the trains.**
Speakers of the World
What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
What do you call a person who speaks one language?
-- [see footnote***]
*who might have visited here in the 90s.
**Suzanne Gilman -- one of my typesetting teammates at the Brown Daily Herald -- told me this joke in 1987 when I didn't know enough to get it. I had to write it down so I could remember. No longer.
- When I rushed into the bus station at 8:03 a.m., the ticket agent said I had just missed the 8 a.m. to Celestún. I was so sad to have missed joining Jacek, Katya, and Rocio for our planned outing. But when I walked into the waiting area -- miracle of wonders -- Jacek was waving at me from the gate. "Hurry!". Man, his face was a beautiful sight.
- How would you feel about assembling a semi-random group of strangers to attempt negotiating our prices with a wide variety of boatmen? When you don't know everybody's price and time sensitivities? When you hadn't much sleep the night before? Rocio rocks. She did all this for us. And we had a really good time.
- BTW -- if you are not the Negotiator, life is easier if you can let go of your desires for any specific outcome. Just let her do her job, and everybody has fun, and nobody gets shot. Although I wasn't our negotiator, I did get to play Treasurer. That job usually means that I end up paying extra to cover world's shortchangers of the world. But on this rare occasion, everybody handed me more money than they were supposed to. Yay for Wilberth who got a good tip. Even after our early disagreements in which money was handed from us to him, then back to us after a second disagreement on price, then back to him after Rocio made the peace at $90 for the whole boat for 3 hours.
- I love all boats. Even boats without lifejackets.
- After the tour -- marinated salad of mixed seafood. Very happy mouth.
Oooh. You probably had some of the best ceviche ever after that tour. And no, I didnt go to that reserve, but it looks fan-freaking-tastic. I wasn't birding yet the last time I went to Mexico (2004), much less when I was in Mérida. Sigh. It's got great birding over there. Am jealous.
Posted by: stew | Feb 10, 2008 5:24:10 PM
It would be particularly apt, though, if the next time I go back I visit the other Yucatecan reserve: Reserva Estatal El Palmar.
Posted by: stew | Feb 10, 2008 5:26:16 PM
I am relieved to discover that "Stew the birder" is a person and not a command.
Posted by: Brian Rice | Feb 10, 2008 9:28:12 PM
Brian: as is she.
My friend Noam ("hi" if you're reading this!) had a rabbit that he named Stew. Stew the rabbit (Sing that one in the voice of Elmer Fudd if you like) once nibbled off part of my shoe while I was having dinner with Noam and his then-girlfriend/now-wife Illysa. Also memorable from that dinner: I spotted a strangely familiar hardhat on a shelf nearby. Turns out that my friend Scott had left it there when we had visited a year or so earlier on a work trip. Noam and Illysa had no idea where it had come from. They were glad for a mystery solved. Here in Mexico, hardhats are used as low-cost motorcycle helmets. Don't ask me how well they work.
Posted by: Phil | Feb 10, 2008 10:50:26 PM
Oooh, the feet photo. Glad to see I'm not the only one who does this.
Posted by: Ginny | Mar 20, 2008 3:34:36 PM