We gather in the dining area of the Holiday Inn for breakfast where we meet our entire party of photographers. Included are three Okies, Colin, John, and myself, four North Dakotans, Mike, Alice, Rod, and Jerry, and three from Montana, Jan, Tom our leader, and his girl friend Linda. Outside, a large van awaits, driven by Carlos, our chauffeur for the entire stay.
After a long drive, we arrive at our first birding lodge, Mirador, overlooking a beautiful green valley with a rushing river at the bottom. The Mirador is nothing like the Holiday Inn but it is adequate and we are not here for creature comforts. Who needs hot water or temperature controlled rooms anyway?
As it turned out, we had to stay at a motel three blocks from where we booked our lodge as we were bumped from our rooms by government officials. No further explanation. Our room was stark and devoid of amenities except for a TV that we never turned on. One towel apiece, no washcloths, two bars of soap. One overhead light. Tile floor. Luke warm water.
After a morning shoot with stunningly beautiful hummingbirds at multiple feeders, I had my first Ecuadorian beer for lunch, a Pilsener. It comes in a 22 oz. bottle and is quite palatable. Cost? Two bucks, such a deal. Our meals here are typical of what we would eat throughout our journey. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, no sausage, no bacon. Lots of brown bread but not toasted. A fruit dish was a common side. Coffee or café’ as they pronounced it, was slow getting to the table and rarely more than luke warm.
Lunch was fried potatoes, chicken strips, soup, and some vegetable that I forget. Probably broccoli.
Twice, I ordered fried shrimp for the evening meal and it is was delicious. It seems different than the American version as the cooking oil, whatever they use, is light and thin, and doesn’t leave the crusty oil coating that we are used to.
The next day, we continue to improve on our shots of the hummers. A small trail winding beneath the lodge had several gorgeous flowers that resulted in some decent images. But a gardener pointed out an amazing green lizard, so hidden and camouflaged it was almost impossible to see. All of us were thrilled with opportunity to photograph it. The lizard didn’t move more than ten inches in two days.
Colin slipped on a wet board while crossing a foot bridge and took a hard fall. Thankfully there was no damage to his camera equipment. We photo geeks do have our priorities you know.
The remainder of the day is cut short by another afternoon shower. We use the time to edit some of our shots and to download from our cameras to the laptops. What a change from the old days of film where you had no idea what you had until several days after returning home. The instant feedback allows corrections to be made in mere seconds, then shoot again until you have it right. Makes you wonder how Ansel Adams ever lived without it.