ECUADOR 2001: mad in pursuit

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4 at the feederWednesday, 4.25.01
Bellavista Cloudforest

Last evening was quieter. Yesterday's lodgers left after lunch and a Canadian couple arrived. They were quieter, content to read. Four others showed up for dinner, but they must be staying elsewhere. We had two orders of hot mulled wine with dinner. And I've started the habit of kicking J whenever he starts in on the same story with the same people.

 We crawled into bed about 8:30. I really wanted to continue reading but the light draws too many moths. A giant pea green beetle pounded up against the window at my elbow, Junebug-like. We've been leaving the light on in the bathroom overnight. By morning there is a menagerie of colorful moths and more delicate flying things. I don't really mind except when they are in the toilet, not relishing the thought of their panicking against my bum.

I am beginning to appreciate the infinite variability of the ecology and microclimate here. By the end of the first 24 hours we thought we knew it: misty sunrises, rain at 1 P.M. and hummingbirds who preferred the feeders with the perching ring around the bottom. Now we don't dare predict anything. The mists and the rains come and go, hiding and revealing the shapes of trees and mountains. One minute we are open-mouthed at the magical Chinese painting before our eyes and the next moment we can barely see the tree in front of us, then -- suddenly -- everything is crystal clear and blue sky shows. The rain comes -- P.M. rather than A.M. but who knows when. And the hummingbirds follow their own chaos theory, clustering in a frenzy at one feeder or another, leaving us with our grand human -- and totally erroneous hypotheses. "It's dusk, they must roost overnight in that nearby tree, so that's why they are in a frenzy at the feeder they've ignored all day" -- nice cohesive theory proven totally wrong the next evening. Never ask why. Speculation is meaningless and only serves to make us feel superior and in charge for the moment. (Maybe it's mob behavior on the part of the hummers -- they assume the best juice must be where the biggest crowd is -- but there I go, beyond hypothesis to outright anthropomorphism.)

It would have been so easy to organize a coherent scheme, an order of thought and life, a harmony. All that was needed was the usual hypocrisy... [Hopscotch]

J on trail [F]Morning hike. About 2 hours. We went uphill on the narrow route [F] to the road, then around on the road back to the dome. Route [F] is largely a deep, damp rut between steep mossy banks. We went slow enough that it was pleasant -- J could have used the walking stick he fashioned yesterday, but we forgot it. We ran into Sharon ("the hummingbird lady") who was tracking her mixed flock -- interesting that she could see and hear what we couldn't. Obviously, watching every day helps.

At long last, showers! The joy of not bathing ran its course. The water was hot and the air not too chilly. Fresh underwear, socks, and shirt: such luxury. I guess we're ready to resume urban living.

Quito, La Casa Sol

How civilized it feels to be able to flush one's toilet paper again (at Bellavista we had to remember to put it in the wastebasket). 

It took us two hours to drive back from Bellavista. Our taxi driver kept up a lively -- and patient -- conversation in Spanish, explaining some of the things we saw as we went along.

We got settled in our same room (#15), with the added luxury of a TV, with remote control, no less. But what, no cable? No CNN? We weren't in the mood for silly local game shows. After some wine we walked down the street to the Boca del Lobo for mulled wine and a light dinner. Now, back to reading.

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