Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Assuming Memory And Mortal Fatigue

Trey and I returned from our honeymoon last night. Costa Rica is the most beautiful place I have ever been. I couldn't have asked for a dreamier honeymoon!

Nine of our nights there we slept under mosquito netting, separated from the outside by windowscreens or nothing at all. Our first night we were overwhelmed by the lack of ambient light and the incredible array of noises. We are accustomed to the rumbling of trucks, of our landlord's son yelling incoherently outside our window or stumbling up the stairs -- not the eight million nocturnal voices of the Central Valley.

The second night, I woke up scared because something was rustling all around our cabin and actually asked Trey to look outside with a flashlight, I am embarrassed to say. But after that, it was amazing to fall asleep when it was dark to the sound of the ocean, to wake to birdsong, the crow of an actual cock, the lightening of the sky.

One thing that saddened me a bit was how I had to resort to technological metaphors to gush over the natural phenomena. Upon my first sighting of a Scarlet Rumped Tanager, I thought the bird had been banded. The Montezuma Oropendola has a cry that sounds like Trey's cell phone powering up -- there were birds that sounded like "a video game when you lose a life," the bird that sounded like Trey's digital camera, the breathtaking leaf-cutter ant colony that was like "that factory in Metropolis", the dragonfly that looked like "Tinkertoys" or "something from The Sharper Image". The bird we referred to as "the liquid bird," who woke us every morning with a piercing series of lush triplets was revealed to be the Riverside Wren. And lo! all the literary references to wrens made sense, those metaphors blushed at last with real meaning.

My sense of hearing changed so much over the course of our trip -- so much so, that, frozen and sleepy in the back of our cab last night, traveling away from LaGuardia, I heard a full and melancholy sound, a resonant wail that reminded me of the sweet-tempered weimariner at Aviarios del Caribe asking me to play fetch-the-coconut with her one last time. I turned around to find the voice's source.

It was an ambulance.


Blogger spillah said...

So lovely, Lillet!

There is little better than sleeping in the woods, and being spooked by what could lie nearby is just part of that beauty. Similarly, I made my uncle check the locks on my teeny bungalow near the jungle in Rajasthan, and sure enough a monkey returned later to rattle the door. His screech when I woke to look for him was one of the best moments in my life.

1:06 PM  

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