This year’s activities from Ixtapa are a little spare; I'm just throwing everything into one post. I didn’t get to the wildlife sanctuary as much as I have in the past and I didn’t get off site of the resort (we stay the same place each year). The big unique excitement (ha) was getting to know the resort’s EMTs and hanging out in a wheelchair. We’ll get to that in a minute …..
If this is your first time reading a post from Ixtapa, you can find the posts from past years HERE. If you’ve vicariously joined me on this trip before, then you know my affinity for the small, dilapidated and utterly charming crocodile sanctuary just down the beach from our resort, where iguanas, turtles and a variety of birdlife also reside in a quiet lagoon of green water and densely-treed banks.
Among all the residents of this lush lagoon environment, I’m most smitten with the exotic, if slightly silly, spoonbill bird. They’re little devils to capture on film, though. (“film,” that is … rolls off the tongue so much smoother than “digitally.”) They live nestled deeply into the leafy branches of the trees. The first year I mostly just saw patches of pink and the occasional bill. I managed just a few pics. The next year, I dedicated a lot time to finding them and even got to witness them mating (see pics). THIS year I arrived my first day and found a nest with baby spoonbills!! I couldn’t believe it. The babies were feeding right out of the mother’s mouth. I was really quite beside myself at such a sweet score.
A short distance away was another nest with two juvenile spoonbills … it was interesting to see how they mature – that their feathers start out a very light pink and without the vibrant darker pink spots. Also their bills are just little stubby things, not yet elongated into the adult size.
I was so enthralled with the baby spoonbills I didn’t pay attention to much else that day. But I did finally sort-of-vaguely capture these little black and yellow birds that I’ve been trying to for 3 years now. They’re just little things and they flit quickly here and there and stay high, high up in the tree branches, disappearing into the leaves as soon as they land. I’ve learned to recognize one of their songs, though, so this year as soon as I heard it I would scan around and try to get a shot off before they scattered. If you look closely you can manage to pick them out, blurry among the leaves. Next year … these stinkers are on my hit list, for sure.
The next day I came, I paid more attention to the iguanas, which I have also come to love here. I’m not really a lizard/reptile kinda gal. So the fact that I’ve developed such affection for the iguanas and even, yes, the crocodiles, just goes to show that if you take the time to really study something, it might surprise you with an unexpected level of awesomeness. (Though I’m quite sure this will never be true for my estimation of most spiders, scorpions, and some other insects.) I really could sit and study the iguanas all day. Here are some for you to ponder.
Now I thought to myself, “OK, I’ve gotten photos of the spoonbills mating and of their babies, now it would be cool if I could capture them in flight.” Well, guess what. Those critters decided to oblige me and several of them flew back and forth across an open space in the lagoon. I was so excited. I really could hardly believe it. I became disappointed, though, when I discovered that I failed to capture any of the activity in focus. I had presumed my camera would do a better job than I would choosing a shutter speed in the auto sports mode, but I'm thinking I should have just set my own speed on shutter priority. One thing I will say about this photography hobby I’ve picked up … the more photos I take, the more I realize how little I actually know about photography.
But anyway … here are probably the best of what I managed to capture. First, the cheeky spoonbill taunting me – “Will I fly? Will I not? I just might! Or I might not.” -- until my arm gets tired of holding the camera up in anticipation and I lower it. Then, of course, he takes off. They look simultaneously elegant and awkward cutting through the air with their long necks and bills, their long legs dangling down kind of gangly, and their beautiful pink wings fanned out.
Finally, of course, I had to watch some crocodiles. In years past, I’ve found dozens of them crammed together against the fence or under the wooden viewing platform. This year they were scarce, for what reason I don’t know. Maybe I came at the wrong times of day. But here’s a couple smiling beasts for you. The first pic would have been awesome if it was in focus.. Maybe my camera was just on the fritz that day.
The other wildlife playground near our resort is a lovely cove on Ixtapa Island, just a short ride by boat taxi or a pleasant kayak paddle away. Fish come right up to the beach, you can see them just standing ankle deep in the water. (Notice bottom right hand corner of first photo you can see some little fishies in the water; the splashes are pelicans diving into the water.) There’s a surprisingly diverse collection of coral and some truly beautiful fish. We’ve snorkeled there several times now. It’s almost unfortunate that I’ve snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, because nothing will ever compare. But I’ve learned to simply classify that as a wholly different experience. So compared to all the other snorkeling I’ve done, for such a po-dunk little place, I think it’s a great place to go, especially for beginners, being able to start directly from the shore. And ... always a bonus: super yummy tropical drinks! (peeps = father-in-law and family friend with the pineapple-head tropical drink (the punch is inside the real pineapple); me and Erik with rum punch and beer)
And now we come to the demise of the rest of my vacation. I took a spill down some stairs (don't bother asking; I was dead sober!) with very jagged, pointy edges at the pool and majorly sprained my ankle and pretty much scraped all the skin off the front of my leg from ankle to knee with some extra deep gouges and holes thrown in here and there. This is how I befriended the EMTs who fixed me up after the accident and then changed my bandages three times after that. The pain, I'll admit, was quite extraordinary. But I managed still to play games in the shade by the pool and the last night I rented (free) a wheelchair from the resort and had what I could genuinely refer to as fun as Erik wheeled me around ... for those who know him, you're probably already firing up the imagination. Yes -- monster wheelies, bouncing down steps, letting go of me altogether to roll downhill, pushing me as though I were on an amusement park ride on a set of tracks, etc. I even managed a game of ping pong in the wheelchair! And I was besting my opponent, I can't help but add. There was a kid's ping pong table ... it was regular regulation size but about half the height of a normal one, so perfect for me in my chair, but a little more awkward for my full-height opponent. (i.e. Erik)
Also had a wheelchair to meet me at DIA airport ... one silver lining is speeding through customs as there's a special line for wheelchair folks. A couple more birds from the sanctuary for you. (see more birds from last year here) Until next year .....