I start up my brand new MacBook to upload lots more amazing bird photos but something is seriously wrong. Two words, in suitable blood red, appear in the top right corner of the screen. “Safe Boot” they taunt. I have never seen this before. I enter my password to get access to the machine but it is refused! My Mac is FUBAR.
I do everything I can think of. Nothing works. I cannot write blogs, I cannot upload photos, I cannot browse the web. Very bad news.
From my phone, I post a plea for help on my Instagram feed, @ryutaro_higa. I am on a desolate beach some way North of San Blas on my way to Mazatplan.
10 minutes later, the learned Robert Mallon from Okinawa, gets back to me. He explains what to do. I do it. Safe Boot is vanquished and I am back in action.
Two conclusions: first Instagram is amazing, post a message from a beach and hundreds of people get it immediately; second Robert Mallon is a hero!
So as you know the principal goal of my trip to San Blas was to see lots of birds. I realize that to do so effectively I am going to need help. I go to the Tourist Office. Er, this sounds very chrome and glossy. Not so, it is a room with a delightful lady in it. I mime birdwatching guide. The smiling lady gets it and 10 minutes later a young man shows up. This is Jose Antonio. He explains that he is busy for the next few days but, as of 20th, we can go birding.
I look at a clump of undergrowth and maybe see a warbler, which one I have no idea. Jose Antonio, before even looking at the clump of undergrowth, knows what birds are there just through the songs. He then points out masses of birds, hardly any of which I would have seen alone, and of course he knows exactly which obscure warbler or humming bird is which. He is amazing.
What is more, he is a really nice guy and speaks excellent English. We spend 3 days together and see a vast number of birds, the majority of which I have never seen before.
We cruise through swamps as the sun goes down. We are high in the mountains as the sun comes up. In between we are in fields, lakes, even Tepic city park. So many birds! What joy!
The photos represent a small percentage of the species we saw. Importantly missing are all the Warblers, Humming Birds, Trogons, Flycatchers, Sparrows, which are very difficult to photograph.
So, this is his website: mexicanbirding.com. Forget your next vacation. Go to San Blas instead and hire Jose Antonio!
It is paradise. Perched on a cliff top overlooking the ocean, it has a sprawling park of huge trees and coconut groves. There are 2 swimming pools, hot water showers, flush toilets, a restaurant, fast wifi, hence all the recent posts, and above all birds!
This morning I stumble out of the camper at 8:00 ish and see this.
There were also Citreoline Trogons but the photos are too poor to expose here. All that in the first 15 minutes of the day encourages you to lie down for the rest.
Frigate birds I have seen previously, usually flying very high and far away. I blurt, “Look, quick, a frigate bird!”
I tell you, when it comes to ingesting fish and other stuff that started life in the sea, then the west coast of Mexico is hard to beat. In San Blas, if you stop, close your eyes, spin around and open them again, then you are facing a fish restaurant.
These restaurants are rarely more than shacks with palm roofs and earth floors. The cooking is done over a very slow burning grill, more smoking than grilling really. The menu is look at the grill and choose what you want.
The market is overwhelmed with fish stalls.
I go to an upmarket restaurant, one that has a menu.
You look out onto the ocean. Frigate birds and pelicans drift by. The meal, with 2 mugs of homemade limonade, comes to $8:00.
I fix up a meeting at the bridge for 7:00 am. They were to boat me around the estuary swamp land that surrounds San Blas. I am there at 6:45, still terrified of being late and thus unworthy. I sit in a cafe and order breakfast, refried beans, eggs, warm tortillas and Nescafe. By 7:15 no one has shown up. I start to sob into my refried beans. An older guy, riding by on a very beat up bike, comes to comfort me.
“I have boat, come. I not speak English!”
5 minutes later we are skimming over the estuary towards the swamp. Anyway, this reinforces my ever strengthening opinion that organization is grossly overrated, especially in Mexico. Not a criticism.
Incredible trip. Ricardo, for it is he, has a fantastic eye for birds and we see so, so many species. The photos are small selection. My biggest problem was that we got so close to the birds and reptiles that my big bird lens had too much magnification, allowing only close ups of heads or other body parts.
Slow internet equals no posts. Happy New Year dear readers, a small but distinguished bunch!
I head off to San Blas in Nayarit, Mexico for a 6 week trip of hardcore birdwatching fun.
It takes me a week to get there. There is too much to say. The US and Mexico are huge and very scenic.
I burst into Mexico at a tiny place called Lukeville. For the first time I get all the documents for legal driving in Mexico. Normally everything is so chaotic that I give up and just drive – never been busted. About 15 miles South of the border there is a big shiny new building where I get my Temporary Importation Permit, my Tourist Card and insurance. I feel very old.
I drive down the west coast of Mexico. There is nothing here. I stay in a hotel in a Puerto Libertad.
There are a lot of fisher folk chopping up fish.
California, Arizona, Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit 2,300 miles. Well done truck! What is more the dreaded turnbuckles did not budge an iota. I settle into an idyllic camping spot in San Blas where I am only disturbed by coconuts thunking into the ground and by the grunting of White Faced Ibis that cluster around.