Monday, May 05, 2014

4 Months (or so)

I don't know if there is a kid or former kid out there who hasn't tried to dig all the way to the other side of the Earth. China is the usual assumed destination if you are in the U.S.. My agent told me that the word for the opposite side of the earth is an antipode. The almost (very nearly) antipode of where we live in California- is Mauritius. And so for four months now, we have lived here on the other side. 

You can't predict how a place is going to be from reading about it or looking at pictures. Before moving here that was what I had to go on- that and Fred telling me about Mauritius.  At first it was all so overwhelming. A van came to pick us up at the airport with our pile of suitcases and bicycle cases. The funny thing about the bikes- they are useless here. Riding on the roads is taking you life into you hands, but the cases came in handy during a flash flood where Fred and I had to divert the water away from the house. We used the bike cases as dams , along with some kitchen trash bags we filled with water and some others we filled with rocks. 

Many mornings, we wake up and open the accordion doors onto the back yard and let in the breeze. The birds have gotten used to that sound as the "breakfast is being served" sound and they all come; Madagascar Fodys- especially an orange colored one with spiky feathers on his head we call "Billy"- after Billy Idol. Billy hangs with a group of sparrows. He is with them, but keep to himself. At first he was terribly shy- didn't come near the house and sat out on the lawn- an orangish red dot out there- and gradually, he became pretty comfortable and now often times, he is the first bird waiting for breakfast and complaining if we are late to deliver it. I love Billy. There are red bearded bulbuls that travel in pairs and zebra doves...the Mynas have a complex and varied range of calls and the village weavers are family centered birds who build their nests in palm trees that they enter from the bottom . Clever birds. I never grow tired of the birds.  

I can't remember a time in my life without birds.  At home we have our little parakeets ( who are under very good care of their new flock leader)- parakeets are flock birds who are used to having their voices carry over long distances and the unsuspecting pet buyers who come into per stores are often unaware of this and so many birds wind up being abused or neglected because of their natural instincts. 

In California we have our hummers. They zip through the air in every which direction at high speeds, yet they are so small and delicate. During the day their hearts beat at 1260 beats per minute, but when they are sleeping, it drops to 50-180 bpm. Incredible creatures- and far older than us homo sapiens .

Birds have been around some 150-160 million years (present day estimate). Homo sapiens - about 200,000 years...we are youngsters compared to them...

So birds- they are making this place feel more like a home- not the people, not anything else- the  birds.  After I post this, I will cut up some baguette from our local boulangerie for the birds breakfasts. I look forward to opening the doors and seeing Billy- or the rest of our flock. 

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