Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Laguna de Apoyo

I’ve arrived at the Spanish language school FUNDECI/GAIA on the Laguna de Apoyo, about an hour and a half east of Managua, the capitol of Nicaragua. I’m here to improve my still quite modest Spanish skills. I’ve been traveling and working in Spanish speaking countries for a while now, and finally found an opportunity to focus on the language itself, rather than hoping to incrementally get a little better through prolonged exposure. The latter approach has gotten me to the point where I can get around on my own, ask people stuff I need and understand most of what they answer me. So that’s my starting point here. I now want to go beyond that to where I can have a conversation in Spanish about more than just the weather.

Plus, the birding isn’t too shabby here either.

I just got here, and I’ve seen and heard a handful of birds, including a first lifer: Pacific Screech Owl. They must be common here, last night I heard two around the house. This is an Orange-chinned Parakeet, a common species in much of Central America.

I spent three days on various buses from San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, with stops in Guatemala City and San Salvador, and got here on practically no money at all. Parts of this journey I knew all too well: hey, there’s the police station where we got pulled over and got a ticket for having only one, not two reflecting triangles, a couple of months ago. A ticket I could only pay with mexican pesos, of little value to the Honduran police officer. Hey, that’s where they stopped us and needed to hear all about our project. That’s where we got gas.

Most of Guatemala was new for me. Between Guatemala City and the Salvadoran border, I saw forests blooming with orange flowers – three colors for as far as the eye could see: green mixed with orange, and blue.

Now I’m here in Nicaragua, at a place with a pleasant, relaxed international atmosphere. It's great to see people I met a few months ago at the Golden-cheeked Warbler workshop in Honduras again: Jeffrey, Aura and Pablo.

The food is great and the swimming in the lake here is quite fantastic.

This is a Hoffmann’s Woodpecker, the common Melanerpes woodpecker in these parts. This is a successful genus: wherever you go in North and Central America, there’s usually one of these species around, often quite abundant.

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