Bird Families

Sickle-winged Nightjar / Eleothreptus anomalus

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America Latina, or the story of first love

No one is as lucky as crazy.

- I want to leave, Shura. To go very far ...

Yulka, my little strawberry

When I was in school, teachers called my mother there more often than others. I am deeply convinced that the only reason for this was the sadistic pleasure they received, seeing how the poor thing was worried about her son - an innocent little angel. During one of the most serious showdowns in the presence of the director, the class teacher, who, I must say, would be more suited to work in the Gestapo, said to mother:

- If you showed more rigidity in upbringing, your Little Johnny, perhaps, would rise to a C grade, and in a few years, perhaps even to a good one.

“I’ll never be good,” I said sadly.

“That soldier is bad,” the headmistress said edifyingly, “who does not want to become a general.

It was at the height of socialism. Just before that, several students from our 1 "A" left for Israel and the United States, and the situation in the school was heightened to the limit. And I had just read Fiedler's Call of the Amazon and Darrell's Three Tickets to Adventure, so I replied with a phrase that turned out to be programmatic:

- I do not want to become a general, I want to go to South America.

School years passed from bell to bell, and at the prom, the head teacher asked me:

- Well, what about you, Dinets? Do you have any plans for the future?

- Yes. In ten years, I will organize an expedition to the Amazon.

At that time, a week-long tour to Bulgaria was the main event of their lives for many, and the Amazon seemed as distant as the Red Spot on Jupiter.

Therefore, I was not at all offended by the head teacher for her reaction:

- Eh, Dinets, Dinets! Will you never be normal?

The teachers' predictions were fully confirmed: I became one of the most qualified loafers and truants in the country. Probably, during the existence of the USSR, no one happened to travel around it like the former poor student Vovochka. I also rode in almost all neighboring countries, up to Egypt and Laos (the funny thing is that all these years I had continuous work experience), but exactly 10 years passed before I managed to earn enough money to travel overseas.

Until then, as a rule, I had to travel alone - it is very difficult to find a company for a long expedition at my own expense along the wild lands. But to South America I decided to take a girl named Yulia with me (to the surprise of my friends, who said that I was “going to Tula with my samovar”). Such, at first glance, a self-destructive step is explained, first of all, by the completely unique personal qualities discovered in her. The choice was correct. Although Yulka, who until then had not been further than the Sea of ​​Azov, had a very difficult time, she went through all the trials with amazing courage and endurance. I even gave up the original intention of using it as an emergency food reserve.

Actually, we were going to drive from Mexico to Antarctica along the Pacific coast of Central and South America and return along the Atlantic side, then flying home from Cuba. Alas, for a year of hard labor (at the computer and at the sewing machine, respectively), we managed to save only 10 thousand dollars.

Therefore, we started the route from Nicaragua, got to Ecuador, then Yulka returned home, and I rolled south to Tierra del Fuego and returned to Moscow from Brazil. From the islands I managed to see Galapagos, Juan Fernandez and Silver, but the Antilles, Falkland and Easter were "dropped out".

Although the continent as a whole turned out to be much more developed than could be judged by the literature available in our country, we still saw much more interesting things during this time than most of our fellow citizens in their entire lives. In this book, I will give some practical recommendations in the hope that at least one of the readers will be able to escape from the gray swamp of life and get to the wonderful land of the real sun, the real sea and the real forest.

In South America, there are no terrible wilds with herds of bloodthirsty anacondas and piranhas, which Russian travelers love to describe in "Moskovsky Komsomolets" and "Around the World". There are also no Indian tribes that are not familiar with the white man, with whom our tourists supposedly often meet. To see at least some wild nature, one has to go very far, and even then it is impossible to say in advance how much it has survived there. But if you do find a piece of relatively unspoiled jungle and spend enough time there, many wonders await you - if, of course, you know how to see them. There are almost no such "historical and architectural" sights on this continent as in Europe, Asia and North Africa. The main thing here is mountains and forests, seas and glaciers, volcanoes and caves, and especially fantastically rich flora and fauna. So South America is a naturalist's paradise, be he a professional (like me) or an amateur (like Yulka recently), but not for a person who is alien to such things.

Note, however, that fear of the "jungle" is the lot not only of the general public, but also of many people associated with them by occupation. Shortly before our departure, my mother visited the Institute of Tropical Medicine and received an official instruction on "safety in the tropics of South America." The document began with these words: “Only a chemical protection suit (you can buy it at our institute) provides full protection against deadly infections. It is especially dangerous to swim, walk barefoot, be bitten by insects, approach forests and water bodies. " Then followed horrible descriptions of ulcers, fevers, and tumors. Mother almost turned gray after reading the terrible "instructions". We swam in rivers for many months, walked barefoot through the forest and fed mosquitoes, but we almost never sneezed, although, perhaps, we were just lucky.

A friend introduced me to a man who had been a KGB resident in Colombia for many years. “It’s very dangerous there,” said the fighter of the invisible front, “but you can survive, only, for God's sake, do not approach the jungle.” “What else to do there?” - I was sincerely amazed, but I could not find a common language with the poor fellow. Just imagine: a person has lived in the country for many years and has never risked at least out of the corner of his eye to look at the most interesting thing there! He didn't even want to feel sorry for him: he was to blame ... By the way, this KGB agent argued with my friend on a bottle of cognac that we would not be able to get from Nicaragua even to neighboring Costa Rica, let alone other countries. So far, this bottle is the only income we have received from the trip.

So, on May 17, 1995, my birthday, we ended up at Sheremetyevo with half of the required visas in our passports, a hundred Spanish words in our heads, a couple of rather heavy backpacks and yellow faces (the last week we had to work almost around the clock). In an inner pocket closed by three fasteners (from pickpockets) I had an indulgence - a letter from my office in three languages ​​with a request to render all possible assistance to the two "great biologists". We have tried to keep all clothing and equipment in green or camouflage - this allows you to get closer to the wild fauna and easier to get into national parks bypassing the ticket booths.

- Are you going to war? The border guard asked us sternly.

- Worse! - We answered cheerfully, handing him the passport - my chewed and new Yulkin.

And then - Shannon - Havana - Panama City - Managua. Over the Bermuda Triangle, Yulka suddenly got a mysterious ear pain, and I was very worried about her - after all, immediately after a twenty-hour flight, we had to climb an active volcano. Slightly staggering, we got out of the plane and plunged into the hot light of the temperamental tropical sun.

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