We have now lived in our revamped adobe house together for a total of three full days. Today we start the fourth, and I’m the first one up at 5am. You see a different piece of the world waking up this early. It’s like a private window that opens up to a beautiful view that most people only see from a different angle. The first thing I notice are the “sopes,” or vultures. One or two of them were “parking” for the night in a tree yesterday at the end of my sister-in-law’s visit, and now there are six of them, like a family, in a tall tree that overlooks the river and pasture behind our house. We didn’t have sopes in Los Planes, but that’s because there’s no livestock there. Here there’s livestock and more brush animals like armadillos (“cusuco”), and iguanas. One day a few weeks back on a visit, looking at this same view, my husband noticed a gathering of sopes in the hills just past the pasture. “One of Elmer’s Ganado (cow or steer) must have died.”
It was an amazing site to watch. There must have been 25 or more of them all flying in what was almost a cloud of them. They were in a bunch, and then began to fly in almost a tornado like formation, as members of the flock began descending to the ground.
Then, it’s as if they have radar – we could see vulture after vulture coming from different sides, in the sky – but a line of them were coming almost from the same direction. And they did the same thing each time – form a cloud and then descend after circling in a spiral. The sense of hearing, sight and smell must be immensely powerful for these animals, as the distance they were flying in from was several football fields away from the presumed carcass. Bit I digress, now let’s come back to the back porch where I was sitting, a little past 5am. There are some major differences between “here” (Jicaron, in western Chalatenango, and not the high mountain areas that everyone thinks of as soon as I mention the name) and “there” which is now Los Planes de Renderos, just outside of San Salvador.
The biggest are climate and temperature. It feels like almost a 10 degree difference between the two places. And it’s much more dry here. Which during dry season sucks to be here in Chalate, but during rainy season it’s a nice break from the soggy sog wet days, because in Los Planes it usually rains twice a day versus the one here, but sometimes 3 or 4 times. Certain plants grow better there due to the temperature and humidity difference that just can’t hack it here unless you keep them in the shade, water always, and do massive TLC. The other major difference is a constant presence of flies here. Farms, right? Apparently they wake up early too – 6am and there are 3 or 4 of them dancing around my book “No Ordinary Time” about FDR and Eleanor, and the coffee cup which must now always have something covering it – a postcard works perfect for that. But I began to notice some similarities this morning. One in particular cheered my day – a hummingbird (“colbri”, “gorrión”, “pica flor”) was flitting around a tree out back that has yellow blossoms. The Torogoz is another uplifting sight – this one here is a bit smaller than the one who inhabited our previous locale, and seems to have more yellow/orange on his head and back. He’s a fantastic hunter, and I got to see his talents yesterday. He flew off one tree, and in mid-air caught a flying insect, then glided to another tree with his catch.