Issue 166, Summer 2003
I. Conspicuous Leisure
The Scottish Brewer and his wife have not joined us this afternoon for our trek through the forest of Tapantí. They are protesting the mud. Boycotting the birds. Outraged by the sloppiness, the untidiness of nature. How they conceived of an ornithological tour that did not require hiking through muck, I cannot conceive, but the Scottish Brewer seems to have imagined that the birds would come to us. Regrettably, the Duck Man and his wife are undeterred; they come up the path behind us, talking loudly. Manuel, our guide, has shushed them repeatedly but to no effect. Our only hope now is to outdistance them, but every so often, through the canopy of green, from amidst the vines and leaves, I hear a distant quack and know that they are out there still, the Duck Man and his wife, somewhere in the jungle, gaining on us.
We are fourteen: six married couples, the General, who has come alone, and Manuel. There are the wealthy Scottish Brewer and his wife, who seem to fe…