Thursday, January 05, 2006

Northern Peru - the Maranon Endemics

Entry #7

29 September

We got up at 4:45 a.m. and left the hotel at 5:15. Between last night and this morning, we collected the group's contributions for the driver and cooks - $120 from each participant to be divided three ways between Jose, Raul, and Ivan. We gave the money to Barry to present to them tomorrow morning when we go to the airport.

We drove out of town, arriving at 6:15 at the Bosque de Pomac Historical Sanctuary (INRENA) - another protected area where we heard machetes chopping trees all morning :( This was more VERY dry dusty scrub. We had our last field breakfast - "Eggie Bread" (French toast). We birded in the scrub along the track where we had breakfast and then moved around along the dusty tracks through the sanctuary, stopping to bird at various places. We got GREAT looks at a few more target species - Peruvian Plantcutter and Rufous Flycatcher (see photo). We failed to find a White-throated Kingbird, but had some nice looks at a few "repeat" species. We then drove back to town slowly, looking for birds in the fields along the way, and arrived back at the hotel at 11:30 a.m. I did some catching up on my journal-writing. Then had lunch in the hotel - Sopa Criolla and platanos fritos, and then more journalling during the "siesta" time.

We met in the lobby at 2:30 for a final, relaxed drive to the coast and some birding. We drove to Santa Rosa at the ocean (a fishing village). We stopped along the road on the way to look for swallows. It was sunny (sort of), WINDY, and dusty. We actually walked out through some old fallow fields with some sort of wierd salt grass-like vegetation and some scrubby forbs growing in the sandy soil, looking for seedsnipes ... to no avail. Then we continued down to the beach where we checked out the sandy beaches and the marshes just behind the sand and breakers. It was pretty cold and windy and I didn't work very hard at seeing things .... I was feeling some "end of trip blues" I guess. We did see a Snowy Plover and a Coastal Miner; otherwise it was the familiar gulls, etc. from the first day of the trip near Lima.

We drove back along the coast through the fishing town where we saw numerous boats in various stages of construction - some with only the basic wooden skeletons of the hull and some receiving a final paint job. There were lots of fishing boats pulled up on the shore and there were a few of the traditional reed canoes. They reminded me of the larger reed sailboat (Kon Tiki?) that Thor Heyerdahl built to test whether it was actually possible to make it all the way to Polynesia from Peru (or was it FROM Polynesia? I can't remember).

We returned to the hotel where we spent some time repacking our luggage for the return flights. Then we met in the hotel restaurant for our final bird list. However we were destined for a greater treat for dinner. We took taxis (here the mototaxis were replaced by "the miniature yellow taxi box cars") to Restaurant el Huaralina - a fabulous higher-end place than we'd been frequenting. Appetizers - fried yucca with a great yellow chile dipping sauce. A Pisco Sour followed by a bottle of Concha y Torro (Chilean) wine - Casillero del Diablo - Cabernet Sauvignon & Sauvignon Blanc. There was delicious seafood - a mixed ceviche (raw fish "cooked" with lime juice) of white fish, shrimp, octopus, and scallops. Main course for me - Mero (a type of white fish) a la Pescadora - with a sauce of mixed seafood. Dessert - chocolate ice cream! Being fully sated with this feast, we took our taxis back to the hotel. Barry and Erick went upstairs to their rooms. The rest of us sat around on sofas in the lobby discussing some scheme hatched by Bill and the woman at the hotel desk to get Dan together with one of her friends. She'd given Bill directions to some disco where everyone who was anyone was to meet. Figuring that the disco would be a noisy, smoky, and late night, Dave and I left the "rest of the boys" to their fun and retired. Apparently Dan's "blind date" never showed up but those "dancin' fools" closed out the disco at 4:00 a.m.! They looked a little rough around the edges at breakfast the next morning, but they all showed up.

Birds Observed around Chiclayo
September 29

Neotropic Cormorant
Cinnamon Teal
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Striated Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Savanna Hawk
Northern Crested Caracara
American Kestrel
Common Moorhen
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Gray (Black-bellied) Plover
Snowy Plover
Belcher's Gull
Kelp Gull
Gray-headed Gull
Franklin's Gull
Elegant Tern
Eared Dove
Pacific Dove
Croaking Ground-Dove
Groove-billed Ani
Burrowing Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
Amazilia Hummingbird
Scarlet-backed Woodpecker (Tumbes Endemic)
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Coastal Miner (Peruvian Endemic)
Pacific Hornero (Tumbes Endemic)
Necklaced Spinetail (Tumbes Endemic)
Collared Antshrike
Peruvian Plantcutter (Peruvian Endemic)
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Gray-and-White Tyrannulet (Tumbes Endemic)
Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant
Vermilion Flycatcher
Rufous Flycatcher (Peruvian Endemic)
Tropical Kingbird
Baird's Flycatcher (Tumbes Endemic)
White-collared Jay (Tumbes Endemic)
Long-tailed Mockingbird
Fasciated Wren
Superciliated Wren (Tumbes Endemic)
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Peruvian Martin (Peruvian Endemic)
Blue-and-White Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Sparrow
Cinereous Conebill
Blue-gray Tanager
Collared Warbling-Finch
Saffron Finch
Streaked Saltator
White-edged Oriole (Tumbes Endemic)
Peruvian Meadowlark
Scrub Blackbird
Shiny Cowbird

30 September

Today is Dave and my anniversary (#4) .... what a way to spend it .... jet-lagged on a travel day towards the U.S. - BUT also the end of a fabulous trip! We got up at 6:30 a.m. because we were so used to getting up early that we got up before the alarm! We took a shower to last the next day and a half and put on our last set of clean traveling clothes. Breakfast at the hotel was at 8:00 a.m. - scrambled egges with ham, orange juice, coffee and rolls. We then loaded the luggage into the bus one last time and drove just a few minutes to the airport.

A potentially difficult event with a great relief of a resolution: Terry discovered this morning that he'd lost his passport and after spending a bunch of time with Barry checking with the U.S. Embassy about all the hassles he'd have to go through tomorrow to get a replacement (he and Erick were not leaving Lima for the U.S. for 2 more days), we got on the bus and there was Jose with Terry's passport - he'd found it on the steps of the bus! What a relief!

One last image: Once again the bus goes down a narrow city alley that passes for a street and can't get past some vehicle parked haphazardly in the middle of everything. From the bus we see ... the policeman down the street and some guy who apparently climbed out of a nearby taxi ... all standing in the street in front of the bus giving Jose unwanted and relatively useless hand signals and directions. As usual, Jose maneuvered us out of another "pickle".

At the airport we got pictures of our group with the support crew, Barry presented them with our tips, and we said our goodbyes. Barry got us all checked in for our flight from Chiclayo to Lima. Having had limited opportunities to buy souvenirs in a part of Peru that gets few tourists, several of us bought souvenirs at the airport (I managed a very nice embroidered blouse for 40 Soles). The flight was uneventful - I read a little in my book, dozed, and (as on our previous trip) were entertained by some kind of Canadian "Candid Camera"-type show that had almost everyone on the plane laughing.

In Lima we met up with the Manu Expeditions contact and then said our goodbyes to Barry and Bill, who were going directly on to Cuzco - Barry to go home, and Bill for the Macchu Picchu extension that Dave and I had taken on our previous trip. The rest of us were driven back across Lima to the Hotel Jose Antonio in Miraflores where four of us had "day use" rooms - Dave, Dan, Sam, and I - and Terry and Erick had an overnight (they weren't leaving for another two days. We dumped our stuff in the rooms and went across the street to a coffee shop where we had a light lunch - a lomo saltado empanada and a Cafe Mocha. Then we all walked 6-8 blocks to the mercado, which turned out to be very similar to the multiple, related stalls in Nogales, Mexico that we'd visit from Arizona - you get harangued by shop keepers and bargain for the best price. We did stop at the high end Alpaca III store up the street that had beautiful sweaters, but I couldn't find one that just jumped out at me. My acquired treasures from the market included: an embroidered purse; some printed fabric to make into what???? I don't know yet; a pair of those gathered pants from locally woven fabric you get throughout much of Latin America; and two jackets .... bought the first one and THEN found the one that I really wanted. So now I have two and will have to find some lucky friend to receive the first one! Got back to the hotel and found a beautiful ceramic figure of a traditionally-dressed Andean woman that I bought and had carefully wrapped for carrying onto the plane.

We then went back out at 5:15 p.m. to a restaurant called of all things "Las Tejas" that Erick had eaten at when he was in Peru with his sons a couple years ago. More great seafood - for me a mix of seafoods, a mixed salad and two Pisco Sours. Then it was back to the hotel with barely time to repack our luggage with our new acquisitions before our ride arrived at 7:30 to take us back to the airport. It was Friday night rush hour and this guy, who was a different fellow, did not take the "usual" route down off the bluffs and along the ocean before crossing Lima. We had no idea where we were but it seemed to take much longer than before. We must have gotten there at about 8:30 p.m. This time we were on our own. Dan, Dave and I had no real problems checking in with American Airlines - the lines weren't long at all. But Sam got really hung up in the Continental lines. We finally went through security without him since our plane left first. I wandered around trying to figure out how to spend my last few Soles but I had "hit the wall" and started to get grumpy and couldn't decide on anything. We said goodbye to Dan, who was on a later AA flight back to California and finally to Sam who made it through security and had a flight at about 1:00 a.m. back to New Mexico.

Our flight took off on time at about 11:20 p.m. I slept almost the entire time, waking when the pilot announced the final approach to Miami. We went through customs without a hitch (after a short panic when Dave's luggage didn't appear - turned out that some bozo pulled it off the carousel, realized it wasn't his, and left it sitting off to the side! PHEW!). We rechecked our luggage for the rest of the U.S. trip. We had time for an unexceptional breakfast of orange juice, scrambled eggs, home fries, and toast at some fast food place specializing in Chinese food! We sat in blurred silence until we loaded onto the next flight to Dallas/Fort Worth. There we had a nice big American burger with mushrooms and Swiss cheese, fries, and my "long dreamed of" iced tea ... it was not all I'd dreamed of, but it did have ice and lemons. Again we sat rather uncomfortably at the gate - my body was rebelling at sitting so long in cramped spaces and I couldn't get comfortable. Another uneventful flight to Albuquerque. This time our luggage was sitting on the side even though the carousel was not off-loading yet - apparently it came in on an earlier flight, which I thought was illegal. Then it was a quick shuttle ride to the parking lot where the truck started up right away, we paid a $60.00 parking fee (still cheaper than a round trip taxi ride to our house) and headed home.

Until next time ... the next exotic location ... the next bird!


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