At dawn and dusk, the parrots commute, usually in pairs, always yelling at the top of their lungs. They get great echo off the concrete buildings on the mountains. They are freaking loud, and thus hard to miss. The weird thing, is that when you see them silhouetted against the peach-colored sky and hear their croaking calls, they look and sound like pterosaurs.
Or,you know, what I imagine pterosaurs would have sounded like.
There’s something about this place that really reminds me of the time of the dinosaurs. Many of the birds seem like they only just evolved yesterday (I’m looking at you, guans), and the palm trees, ferns, banana plants, and guzmahias are what we think of as the vegetation around when the dinosaurs were…but I lived with those plants for years in Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur, and I never felt like I might be about to see a dinosaur…and KL was just downstream from honest-to-goodness ancient rainforest.
Obviously I’m not unique in this; when science fiction writers wrote about a lost valley where dinosaurs still lived, it was in South America.
I blame the parrots.
Mal has turned a corner with his Spanish, and that corner is “Oh crap, all my potential friends speak Spanish! I better learn if I want to play with them!” You can tell a kid this for a year, but it won’t take at all until he’s living it.
Actually, two of his best friends speak mostly Portuguese, one being from Portugal and the other from Brazil, but their Spanish is better than their English, so Mal’s actually trying to learn and use Spanish as much as he can.
Me, I’m suffering. My comprehension is adequate, and I’m finally getting used to the Caraqueno accent (wherein they leave off syllables, so “por favor” becomes “por fa” and “buenos tardes” becomes “buen tar” and no one thinks my “Buenos TARDIS” pun is funny), but the Merida accent still kills me. They speak for the rhythm of the language, instead of emphasizing the key words, so it’s like listening to a kid read Shakespeare – you hear the soothing iambic pentameter, but the meaning washes over you and is gone.
If I think about it and prepare in advance, I can speak…but if I have to converse, Romanian comes out. I haven’t used Romanian in 20 years, but I’m still more fluent in it than in Spanish, and it’s so close that I can slip into it halfway through a sentence and not notice.
This was a three-day weekend for the embassy, and for the school, but on different days (the school got Friday off, the embassy got Monday off). We didn’t do anything other than I got a mild case of food poisoning. We tried to – the initial plan was to get to Angel Falls this weekend, but turns out there is no waterfall in the dry season. So the backup plan was to take the cable car to the summit of the Avila…but with the rampant power outages we decided that might not be the best idea ever. The DH and I almost got stranded by a cable car in the Transylvanian Alps once, but it’s one thing when it’s two adults. It’s another when it’s with a child who freaks out every time the power cuts out inside his apartment.
I suggested the zoo, but we aren’t allowed to drive to that part of town, and we aren’t allowed to take the metro at all ever, so that option was crossed off. I then suggested we head downtown to a premier chocolate factory on Saturday morning so I could get some chocolate to take back to the States. The DH said “But the 49ers are playing!”
“But I could get kidnapped and miss my game!”
As it turned out, the Niners game was almost as nerve-wracking as being kidnapped.
So ultimately we played board games (7 Wonders, I highly recommend it) and Mal started reading Lord of the Rings…on the iPad, so he can read even when the power’s out. I did my nails and tried to not think evil thoughts when the neighbors started blasting “Gangam Style” for a party.