Posted by: ktzefr | March 20, 2010

Tidbits on the equinox, birds, Chichen, Costa Rica, books

El Castillo, Chichen Itza

Flipping through an anthology of traveler’s tales about Mexico I came across “Pig in the Rain” by Jim Conrad.  Jim, a fellow Kentuckian, is watching the equinox in Chichen Itza this weekend.  At least I think he’s still in Chichen.  Jim’s a naturalist by profession and a traveler, a wanderer, by choice.  For the last several years he has lived mostly on the road across the US and all around Mexico, studying the flora and fauna and diligently posting a weekly newsletter called Jim Conrad’s Naturalist Newsletter.  He provides scientific and lay info and descriptions and photos of the plants and animals he meets along the way, and he writes about the local people and culture, too.  It seems he never meets a stranger (that’s a real Kentucky trait, I think).

The last time I came back from Mexico I was stumped by some blue birds I had seen.  Everyday they came to the same spot in the scrub jungle close to the hacienda.  They’d dive in the pool for insects, pretty blue feathers catching the sunlight.  I couldn’t identify them; so, when I read that Jim had wandered to the same hacienda near the ruins in the Yucatan, I emailed and asked him to check out the blue birds.  He did, identified them as Yucatan Jays, sent photos.  It’s a small world.

Check out his website if you’re interested in plants and critters or how the Mayans build their traditional palapa-roofed houses (he’s helping build one; click here to see), or if you’re simply curious about what it would be like to grab a backpack and go — whenever and wherever the mood strikes. (Read about Chichen Itza and the Equinox on an earlier blog post.)

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Frogs: Guanacaste Pottery

I’ve had a lot of interest in my post, Dreaming on the Sarapiqui: Family Ecotourism in Costa Rica,” (earlier post) and I wanted to make a note of a great little book to read if you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, if you’ve already been, or if you’re just dreaming.  Costa Rica: A Travler’s Literary Companion, edited by Barbara Ras has 26 stories that are organized by region of the country. Although Costa Rica is a small country, it has diverse regions and habitats — high-mountain coffee plantations, lowland banana and pineapple plantations, cloud forests and rainforests and hot savannas.  The authors representing such a variety of place have very different stories to tell.  Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, says in his forward to the book: “I am sure…travelers…will receive a more authentic, more profound impression of our country…for having been in the company of these writers.”  (Amazon.com has this little gem for just over $2 in their “used books” section.)

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