Sunday, April 24, 2011

Maybe We Weren’t Put On This Earth To Rape And Pillage And Ravage

Social Flycatchers. Ever present companions for birders throughout eastern Mexico. Sick.

*Written during a brief period of Fear and Loathing in early April, 2011.

I can see the home stretch in the distance, just beginning to appear out of the dusty haze. Sometimes it seems so far away though…last night I spent vainly attempting to fall asleep, coated with sweat, blindly swatting at mosquitoes in a blanket of heat, removing small chunks of cement that had fallen into my tiny cot from the ceiling, dreading the inevitable case of food poisoning I could feel gaining steam in my gut. A visit to the bathroom culminates with some long cockroach anteananne waving at me from a crack in the wall. They run things around here, not me.

The night passes.

Field work folks…it may seem glamorous, but shit! At times it can be a bummer. My accommodations here are a far cry from the resort condo in Hidden Valley, PA that Bat Conservation International generously provided, or the legendary Comfort Inn of El Centro, CA, that came complete with the world-famous Zebra Bar…no, those days are long gone, echoes of the past that grow a little fainter every day. I can hear Carlos giddily torturing Sloth right now (Sloth is a cat, not a sloth), and it does not help calm these nerves that have been exposed from constant insomnia and food poisoning. As a result no one was able to man the tower this morning so we probably missed several thousand migrants heading north, which is pretty shitty…but on a positive note, I can say that we’ve counted well over 230,000 migrant raptors this spring already, and have almost no big gaps in our count time, which seems to be the exception more than the rule here…

Right. Where is Lourdes when you need her? What has she been doing since that fateful spring 3 years ago? Does she still commune with Burrowing Owls? Has she forgotten those special moments with Caroline? Jesus, it seems so long ago now…things have changed, as is the nature of Things to do so. Maybe next time you go bird the Salton Sea, please stop into The Zebra Bar at El Centro’s infamous Comfort Inn on a Wednesday or Saturday night, and see who is working…it will undoubtedly be a good-looking girl (they actually advertise the hotness of their bartenders…which is funny for a place like El Centro), but there is only one Lourdes. Please note that this bar has no other redeeming qualities and I give it no further endorsements..unless you happen to be staying at Comfort Inn, then at least you are in a position to appreciate it’s convenient location.

Echoes of a strange and varied past on a cloudy afternoon in Mexico. Rain has been threatening all day. The tanagers, orioles, doves and grackles all seem to be happy with a cool break in the weather, and I’m right there with them. Maybe today will be the day that long-legged fiend called the Crane Hawk makes an appearance…but, if today is at all like the other days, that’s pretty unlikely.

My coworker had an episode of sorts last night, which has perhaps put me in a frame of mind to think of more….heroic times. Said coworker’s event was complete with vivid hallucinations (“Gah! There’s snakes coming out of the walls!”, followed by uncontrollable giddy laughter) and dilated pupils. How embarrassing!

While I’m missing the comparative normalicy of San Francisco’s brand of weirdness, I just finished a Richard Brautigan book (Trout Fishing In America/The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster/In Watermelon Sugar), which was pretty good. Brautigan was one of SF’s late great writers. I’ll end with a poem out of The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster.

The American Hotel
Part 2

Baudelaire was sitting
in a doorway with a wino
on San Francisco’s skidrow.
The wino was a million
years old and could remember
Baudelaire and the wino
were drinking Petri Muscatel.
“One must always be drunk,”
said Baudelaire.
“I live in the American Hotel,”
said the wino. “And I can
remember dinosaurs.”
“Be you drunken ceaselessly,”
said Baudelaire.


  1. Great post -- and we know you're loving every minute of it. Nothing like field work to get the creative juices flowing.

  2. Thanks Codger! Im looking forward to catching up on what youve been up to on your blog. I'll be in California on Saturday, so that should be soon.