It’s January 2018 and we have a special guest here in Costa Rica, who could possibly love Ella more than Jason and I! It’s Christopher, younger brother to me, Uncle to Ella.
Christopher has been here before and still refers to Costa Rica as the ‘humming bird’. There aren’t many humming birds around where we live, just the occasional toucan, lots of noisy green parakeets, flocks of equally vocal black birds with long tails, Mot-Mots, Chachalacas, wood peckers and other colourful tropical birds which I’ve never seen before.
It’s hot and humid and Christopher, who doesn’t like drinking water, is feeling the heat. We’ve also run out of baked beans and the local ‘Frijoles’ (black beans) are just not cutting it.
Ella is intrigued by Christopher. She pulls herself up by his legs hairs as he lies on the sofa having just about woken up, “Ouch, don’t do that”, says Christopher softly… Ella examines him with a smile But it’s not long before he’s up and hugging her, telling her he loves her and trying to get in a million kisses before she crawls off to play with a plastic bottle.
My days are busy. Christopher has been with us for over a month. The morning baby routine now involves helping my brother get himself from the sofa to the bathroom, then with more prompting and assistance its teeth- brushing before coaxing him out to the kitchen counter. (You can read more about christopher life here).
I feel the heat now too, it’s almost stifling when I wake which is unusual. The birds that populate the palm trees in front of our small bungalow are singing and squawking loudly, clearly no sweat to them in these temperatures. A few of the neighbours including the restauranteur are not the birds best friends. ” They drive me crazy”, Jiro the chef next door told me as he stood, shaking one of the trees with both his arms, while stumping his feet. Then another neighbour who is back just for a month was pacing around the pool for over 20 minutes banging a plastic container like a drum, making me wish one of the birds would just poo on him! The poor birds, mingling happily in the trees on their way out in the morning and on their way home at dusk, only to be suddenly shaken around or startled by the angry humans down below! But these hardy birds keep coming back bird by bird.
Christopher is a home-bird who loves going on holidays. But not just any holiday. Unless he’s staying in a lovely hotel with a buffet breakfast, jacuzzi and a lobby where we can enjoy an evening drink, then we’re not talking about a holiday! And so, our little bungalow didn’t get five stars, which means this Irish bird is homeward bound as soon as is possible, which means Ella and I are home ward bound too right in the middle of winter. The two flights ahead, five and half hours and then six hours are not what I’m looking forward to, but as my mother would have said ” It’s like eating an elephant: bite by bite”.
It is now June. I add this last paragraph with some disbelief. Sadly the beautiful bird chorus that has been the sound track to home-life in Costa Rica was halted dead yesterday morning. The night before at dusk I watched the rental-manager walking around with an air rifle shouting birds out of the trees above . His partner in crime fishing one out of the swimming pool. I wanted to go out and ask them what they were doing, but Jason warned me that approaching someone with a gun is not a good idea.
This morning I noticed splashes of blood on the wood panelling along the side of the house and a few hours later came across the beheaded body of a black-bird leaning against Ella’s floatation device; a patch of blood staining the blue material purple. I spoke to the gardener about the massacre of birds and without hesitation he replied, ” It’s better they shoot all of them, they defecate everywhere and carry disease”.
There are some friendlier bird-control methods available such as putting netting over the tops of the trees or having artificial figures of predators. I never knew birds could be considered such pests…