I walked along a trail stepping over vines as hundreds if not thousands of tiny hermit crabs shuffled away from my feet while a Canivet’s Emerald watched me trip over a rock (above). I stopped hearing something move to my left. I glanced a wary eye hopeful that what moved was not a deadly venomous fer-de-lance, coiled and ready to end my life as I walked through the tropical forest looking for birds. Luckily it was just another iguana. It was my forty seventh day of my birth, a day I was told caused my mother a great deal of pain. Somehow as she now watched our children and I stood at the edge of Central America naked, looking for birds, I felt she was getting a little bit of revenge.
The black iguana came better into view. It was one of the six or seven species of lizard I had seen upon entering the sky trail, leading around this property. I had just finished reading a book called “Jungleland” about an explorer, maybe even an adventurer like me who had come to Honduras looking for the lost White City, or a city of the Monkey Temple and had come home with an understanding. A female green-breasted mango hummingbird buzzed a foot from my nose looking at the intruder in her realm. Her white striped belly with a center of blue so clearly visible before me, I could almost taste it.
The heat oppressed me, as sweat beaded and ran down my back as pigeons and vireos flew away as I continued on the trail carved in rock that seemed of another planet and I walked on the grey trail made up of a local concoction of sand mixed with seaweed forming a sort of cement the cushioned my walk. I ducked under a branch and climbed through a tunnel of vegetation and an American redstart, a migrant itching to make the crossing to the Midwest flitted to my left. Finally I made it to the stairs, fifty five of them that led through the forest to the canopy the flat temple-like construction named Ananda which means “bliss.” A young woman, a goddess maybe, was bent over chanting in some sort of yoga position or something spiritual. I had finally reached it, I had arrived. Had I found Nirvana?
No this was not the monkey temple nor was this a goddess, it was the yoga pavillian and she was the yoga instructor and it was time for my massage. An hour later, I walked back down the stairs and moved on the trail and then I saw number 399, a female Scarlet tanager, I was ecstatic….one to go!
I kept going almost tripping over a lizzard, it was like I could feel it, the holy grail– my record, I NEEDED 400. I willed forward searching scanning for something, anything… and then in a guava tree I saw it, yellow, flitting around, a prothonatory warbler one of the prettiest warblers, one I had painted in my youth, but I have only ever seen one before today………….it was number 400, I checked my pulse, I was still alive, and I had reached a true milestone, 400 species of bird seen in the nude with four months plus to go…..400 and counting.