‘But we did catch the Birding Bug’
If you’ve missed me (and/or my stories), may you find your reward in Heaven. Or maybe South America. Which is where The Dude and I spent the last couple of weeks — in Guyana, which is a country we had to look up on Google Earth.
We’d both remembered that movie Papillon, with Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen, where Steve’s character escapes from Devil’s Island in French Guiana. But we couldn’t decide whether Guiana was in South America and Guyana was in Africa. Or the other way around. (The Guiana/Guyana thing didn’t help.) And of course there’s Uganda (where we’ve been) and Ghana (where we’ve not), complicating matters even more. Turns out Guiana and Guyana are both in South America. But only one of them is famous for its Kool-Aid.
Yup. Guyana is where the Rev. Jim Jones took his followers and, ultimately, treated them to a Kool-Aid Party. Grape, it was. (Take a sec to check out Jim Jones’ Wikipedia entry. It actually lists his “Occupation” as “Cult Leader”.)
Anyway. Enough about Crazy Cults. The reason you didn’t hear from me wasn’t because I sipped any Kool-Aid, but because, once we hit the Birding Road, there wasn’t any internet. (There wasn’t any hot water, either. Which, trust me, took a whole lot more getting used to.) We did, however, have plenty of hot and cold running birds.
We saw shield endemics. And leks of mating Capuchinbirds. And many feathery others too numerous to mention. (No, I did not take photos of said birds, preferring instead to “just enjoy them”. Others took plenty, though, including The Dude. Though, if he remains true to Dude Form, his will never ever leave his camera.)
The birds, of course, were amazing. But you know that “Birding Bug” I mention “catching” in the subhead? Well. It was a Actual Bug.
The Bug in Question was a hitchhiker we encountered early on in the trip. We had been warned to zip our bags when not in use, especially if our bags were located on the floor of our cabins. Well, guess who didn’t read the memo — or pay attention when I read it to him?
You got it. The Dude was fussing with his camera gear one evening when a beetle the size and shape of a VW strolled casually into his backpack. Naturally Dude Man enlisted my help trying to get him out. We unpacked all the backpack’s gear, then tried shining a light in there, shaking it upside down, and even (very gingerly) examining the seams. We didn’t see Mr. Bug leave, but since we couldn’t find him anywhere, we figured he must have slipped out somehow and gone out to find some new bug friends. Then, seeing as how we had to get up at 4:30, we loaded the backpack back up with gear and tried to forget about it. (Urk.)
(Needless to say, we used our flashlights even more judiciously than usual when tiptoeing to the bathroom that night.)
Next day, after hours of bouncing along a red-dirt road to our next destination, we were just settling in to our new digs when The Dude unzipped his backpack. Eh, voila! Out strolls Mr. Bug. And disappears under the bed. The same bed upon which I had earlier found a “mint” on my pillow which turned out to be gecko poop. “Happy new home, Mr. Bug; we hope you like Surama!”
Next night, after a long sweaty day of bird-studded traipsing, we were steeling ourselves for another cold shower when out pops Mr. Bug — making a beeline from under the bed to my bag. When I reached for the zipper to deny him entry, he actually jumped on my hand. I yelped in surprise (this was, as I mentioned, a Very Big Bug) and shrieked for The Dude’s manly assistance. “Get him off me!”
So there we were in partially-clad disarray, jumping around trying to dislodge and discard this darned bug. When The Dude finally managed to capture it with his bath towel, I urged “Throw it outside!” To which The Dude responded “But I’m totally naked!” “Just do it!” I hissed back. “They’ve all seen naked people before!”
So much for Mr. Bug. Speaking of “creepy crawly critters”, as our guide called them, we did rack up quite a few: millipedes, crickets, termites, lizards, the afore-mentioned geckos, and even a couple of (gasp) snakes. But, as far as we know, Mr. Bug was the only one with whom we formed a lasting bond.
Of course I have more Guyanian Adventures to relate. But time is short and this post is long. Let me leave you with a photo of our Nightly Ritual (other than the cold showers, that is), the Sundowner Toast: a shot of El Dorado Rum, made right in Guyana and served up in little Guyanian flag-embossed shot glasses. Which did get to go home with us in that backpack.
Amagansett, New York. February 2019
22 thoughts on “Nope. We didn’t drink the Kool-Aid”
Poor Mr bug, although he is sort of lucky that you took him on a mini human safari! 😉
Yup! That Mr. Bug never had it so good!
Looks like a fab trip!
Except for the bugs. And the snakes. And the gecko poop…xoxo!
A great adventure – although I;’m not sure I would have gotten that close to get a shot of the rattlesnake – that’s all part of their plan!
Hahaha! And those rattlers are schemers!
What an amazing trip! And, I kinda love that the bug took up residence with you. It sounds like that beetle had character. 🙂 At this very moment, my kids are “housing” spiders in a small terrarium. They all have names, but something has started to happen that the kids aren’t too sure about. The big spider has started to eat the smaller ones. I mean, it was bound to happen since they have nothing else to eat in their terrarium. Anyway, I appreciate insect encounters, and yours made me laugh. Great post, Alice!
Uh-oh. Looks like you’ll be needing to practice up for a “Nature” talk soon. We had turtles in a terrarium when we were small. But we didn’t have to watch them eat each other (!) Thanks for reading xoxo
Wow–and OK my skin is crawling now. Glad you’re back safe and sound. I think I could get into the birding thing but not the bugging thing. Funny, was just telling my boys about the time there was a shrew in our bed in France. No, no rodent is adorable when it crawls over your toes when you’re sleeping!
A shrew in your bed in France?!? That beats gecko poop any day! Thanks for reading — and for sharing your critter tale!
Too bad you weren’t able to get a pic of the Bug’er. Loved reading this. But, didn’t we have fun?
We sure did have a blast. One of the Best Trips Ever! And yes, it’s too bad I didn’t get a photo of Mr. Bug. I was too busy jumping around!
btw, i heard that it wasn’t actually kool-aid. it was a knock-off called “Flavor-Aid!” Even in death, they were taken advantage of.
Yes, I saw that too. As Trump would say, “Sad.”
Looks like a fun adventure even if you were bugged out for a while. That’s part of the excitement! When we went to Panama, we stayed in a cute German cottage that had spiders on the ceiling as big as dinner plates!!!! I was afraid to sleep most of that trip although we only slept there one night. Love the photos!
Yes, we (sort of) got used to the critters. The gecko poop on my pillow was a bit much, but a little dab of Woolite took care of it (!) BTW, our next trip is to Panama. Stay tuned!
Wow! You’ll love its wild side. I need to pull out my photos and blog about it.
Yes, do! I love to read about your adventures xo
Never thought I’d see a “Jonestown Massacre” tag on one of your posts!
Hah! Neither did I, Roy. Neither did I!