Sounds and Signs

This is a series of posts about Belize and Guatemala that starts here.

Exhausted, we arrived back at Don David’s.  There was no bickering between Liz and me; we fell onto our beds and slept.

When I think back on this trip, there are five or six moments when I said to myself, “That was my favorite moment!”  As usual, no matter how tired am, I awoke at 5am.  I got dressed and followed the bird sounds out toward the lake.  I was alone, and the sunrise, the topography, and the birds made me feel like I was witnessing the dawn of creation.

Until I heard the high-pitched, whiny roar of what we in Minnesota call a crotch rocket—someone was up before me, probably going to work on his Yamaha scooter.

But that didn’t spoil it.  I had experienced 30 seconds of serenity, with nothing but the sounds and colors of the world waking up.  Silence, peace, serenity…call it whatever you will…it’s so rare.  I can still recall this moment if I make an effort.  And watch the video I took.

At the end of this video you can see the mountain that resembles a sleeping crocodile. It has a name and a back story that I can’t remember, but local legend has it that it saved the people from some peril and now sleeps nearby in case they need him again.

It’s not just external things that distract us from moments of beauty.  I am programmed by habit to immediately think, “Food! Coffee!” upon waking, and today was no exception.  I ambled up the lawn to the lodge, to find Stan already there.

“Look at my list!” he exclaimed like a kid who collected baseball cards.  He was juggling an illustrated laminated poster called “Birds of Central America,” his binoculars, a notebook, and a cup of coffee.

I don’t know much about birds, but this morning I enjoyed watching them with Stan. “This guide says there are over 740 bird species in Guatemala!” I have no idea which ones we saw, but here are some of the funny names off of the laminated poster: Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Pale-vented Pigeon, Common Potoo, Dusky Nightjar, Cocos Cuckoo, and the Greenish Puffleg. There must have been 50 species of hummingbirds alone.

There were clouds of birds around the feeding platforms.  I managed to snap these two little fellows eating bananas.  Who knew that birds ate bananas?

Too soon, it was time to drive back to Belize.

This time the border crossing was faster, and our young fixers were nowhere to be seen.  Maybe they were in school, uniformed with the money earned from us and other travelers?

It was still a slow process, and loading up on coffee necessitated that we had to use a bathroom.  I led Liz and Trudy on a search.  We found the right shack, one of the many little businesses that had sprung up to take advantage of the hundreds of people crossing back and forth over the border each day.

The sign said, “Toilet, $1.”  As an American, I am always grateful that my currency is so widely accepted.  For $1.00, you got an outhouse perched over the river that looked like the house made of sticks in the story of the three little pigs, and six squares of toilet paper.

The proprietor was trying to explain to Trudy where the toilets were.  “She’s deaf,” I said in Spanish, proud of myself for knowing the word for “deaf”, which is “sordo.”

He turned to Trudy and started signing!  What were the odds of that—that the proprietor of a bathroom business at the Guatemala-Belize border crossing would know American Sign Language?  We all had a good laugh, a good pee, and rejoined the line.

In real time, I have exceeded my limit for stress.  How do I know?  Because I have vertigo.  I feel like I am in one of those inflatable bouncy houses you see at kiddie fairs.

I can handle a lot of stress.  What pushed me over the edge was my decision to sell my condo.  I  can’t take the noise from the upstairs neighbors.  It would be a wonderful home for someone who is deaf, so if you know anyone deaf who is house hunting, please spread the word.

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