‘What those crazy birding trips are like’
I just flew back from a birding trip to Brazil, and boy are my arms tired.
People often ask me what these trips are like. Well, here’s how I often describe them. Picture yourself thrown together with eleven random strangers from all walks of life. For several days you spend nearly every waking moment with these people.
You eat every meal together, you take breaks together, you even spend the night together. (Well, sort of.) You consult, you deliberate, you draw conclusions.
You form bonds and promise to stay in touch. Then, when it’s all over, you go home — and never see each other again. Jury duty, right?
Well, this trip was a tad different. For one thing, there were two people on it that Dude Man knew already.
Before I get to the other difference, let’s talk a little about that eating together deal. The tour company we use (and which I highly recommend and plug shamelessly whenever possible), Field Guides, has been spreading their wings, so to speak. They’ve been marketing tours to wider audiences by enticing birders with Extra Added Attractions. Like, they have birding/wine tours. (See their “Birds and Wines of Chile and Argentina” for just one example.)
They have tours that combine birds and art, too. Like this one with Dutch birds and Dutch masters.
Well. I wanted to call this trip “Brazil and Buffets” because practically every meal we ate was one. A buffet, that is. Some were at the hotels, natch. But others were pretty fancy places — like the one pictured at the top of this post — where you’d fill your plate with all kinds of goodies, then waiters would go around and offer you meats they’d carve right for you from big ole skewers. (Or, in one place, offer you pieces of freshly-baked pizzas from big ole platters.)
My favorites, though, were the by-the-kilo places. You’d fill your plate, then place it on a scale. You’re charged by how much it weighs. My suggestion that each diner be weighed before and after eating and charged accordingly wasn’t exactly a hit, especially later in the tour.)
Oh, the other thing that was different about this trip is that we were missing The One. You know, the person in the group — whether jury or birding trip — who is difficult or annoying or sometimes even a full-fledged pain in the tuchus. Oh, there was this one guy we dubbed “Mr. Sunshine” because he had a darkish streak. But he turned out to be too darned lovable to be a full-fledged One.
In fact, everyone on this trip turned out to be loveable. So goldarned lovable that we made sincere promises to get together in our future nonbirding lives. Will this really happen?
The jury is still out.
Amagansett, New York. November 2022