Last time we went to Jamaica (just last year!) Chris and I said we were going to go off-resort one day to do some birding, but we didn't, and I ended up being a little frustrated about it. So this time I told him I'd divorce him if we didn't go birding. Ultimatums are very important for a healthy marriage, I read that somewhere.
So today I'm finally doing some research to see what our options are. Unfortunately it's not looking so good . . . birders don't stay at AIs, and people who stay at AIs and want to do little excursions aren't birders. So transportation to an appropriate place is going to be expensive/time-consuming for not much payoff. But man, it would be lovely to bird Jamaica, just go down and do a real birding trip. I think you could do it up in a week, it seems like, and hit the whole island. We did our honeymoon in Costa Rica, which was a birding trip -- and we were there for two weeks and still didn't see the entire country. We only saw two out of four monkey species! Which means we have to go back eventually. But Jamaica I think we could do.
So of course in searching for tour guides, I'm veering off and finding all sorts of stuff. I found this website called Birding Pal -- if you're a birder, you sign up, and say where you live. And when someone else who is a Birding Pal travels for vacation or business or whatever they contact you and are like "yo I'm going to be in your neck of the woods next month, take me to where the birds are" and you're like "cool" and then you take them birding. Not for pay or anything, just that you are a local person, showing them where the birds are. That sounds pretty neat, and if we were better birders I'd sign up but we're pretty casual.
But so in addition to that deal, Birding Pal also arranges tours, all over the world. But they're not big group tours, I think they're just, like, for you! Whenever you want! (They also have "fixed date" tours with a maximum of SIX people. SIX!) And the packages are not that expensive at all! Because here's the thing, Chris and I, though courteous, are not the most extroverted, friendly people you'll ever meet. You know how people say they went on a guided tour someplace and met the nicest people on the trip? That's not us. We almost never meet people. I mean we'll hold up our end of the conversation on the bus or whatever, but we keep mostly to ourselves. So a big birding tour group is not something we'd be interested in. On the other hand, we did both guided and non-guided birding (on a case by case basis) in Costa Rica, and without a doubt our greatest day was with Marvin (Melvin?) at Savegre Mountain. He was the bomb shit. It was just the three of us all day and he identified birds by ear we never would have recognized, and we waited outside a pygmy owl nest for like twenty minutes that we never would have known was there (that was my first time seeing an owl in the wild! Actually last so far as well) and just . . . he was awesome. And to have that for like a week somewhere? Local guides, showing us the ropes? I think we would like that.
And so now I'm daydreaming. But we're going to Amsterdam next year (Chris wanted to go this year, but what with Jamaica and going to see Jeff later this year we just can't swing it, money nor vacation-time-wise) so it probably won't be until 2014, if then. I also said that we should travel internationally every other year, and during the domestic years see a new national park. Because I haven't seen that many. So maybe 2015. But also our friends will also want to go down to the Caribbean in a year or two again. I hope we go someplace new though, Jamaica is nice and all but there are other islands in the sea. (LITERALLY.) I'm going to be dead someday, and I'd like to see as much of the world as I can before then.