LUTMAN'S 2016 BRAZIL BIRDING TRIP

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Report 0. That's right, Report ZERO. Monday, September 5, 2016. The Story. The Flight to Brazil.

THE STORY

After our second trip to Kenya, guided by our friend and professional bird ID guide Steven Easley, it became a possibility to take one or more big trips and crack the 3000-bird barrier in our world life bird list. There are about 10,000 bird species in the world. Steven suggested that his brother Kevin, who we met and enjoyed as a guide during our first Kenya trip, had been recently leading birding tours to Brazil, and that might even get us to 3000. Hot Dang! We contacted Kevin and over the next year or two, worked out a plan. It was a possibility for several other people to join us, but for one reason or another, nobody else signed up. {I think the Zika virus scared some people off, our friend Lee was going to come with a friend of HIS, but in the end, chose not to.}

So it'll be a private tour. The best kind for us, because in a big group, we are slow to get to the scope, which is likely set up for a new life bird, but it may have flown by the time we get to the scope. Birds do that, you know. {We had "warned" Kevin that we are older now than the last time we travelled with him, ten years ago, and may not be able to navigate trails that are too steep or strenuous but given enough time, we can usually get to where we need to be. We have been walking the hills behind our local golf course for a month or two now to get ourselves prepared for the physical part of this trip. We have also been studying the birds from two books Bob has obained so that we will know what we are looking at (hopefully). Bob sets the pictures up on the computer so I look at them like flash cards and try to identify them. OMG!! There are so many and many of them look so alike each other, the antbirds, antshrikes, antwrens, etc. But we love to do this so we are not completely ignorant in a new country. I feel good if I can get 2 of their 3 names (Ferruginous Ant Bird, for example) who, by the way, looks identical (to my eye) to the Bertoni's Antbird}

For several years, Sharon has repeatedly asked me if we are going to lose our frequent flier miles on American. We have taken quite a few trips inside the US where we could have used them, but American usually makes an intermediate stop to the places we want to go. So we usually wind up on United, charging the tickets on our American credit card, racking up still more frequent "flier" miles. So finally the opportunity has come. American flies to Sao Paulo, where we need to get to. We pay 110,000 miles each, round trip, plus I buy extra leg room seats for an additional $65 per person, for all four flight legs.

So "we are flying free," which is to say we are using frequent flier miles to pay for our trip. {Yea. Bob. My travel agent extrodinare}

Neighbor John takes us to the San Jose airport, leaving home about 10:30. We have already checked in via the internet, and count five items of one sort or another: two big black suitcases, a smaller red carry-on, my backpack and Sharon's handbag. The magic number is FIVE. Plus we each wear a fanny-pack. We have cleared all the checks and lines and are in our waiting seats about 11:30 for our 1:39 flight. We like to get to the waiting area a couple of hours before the flight if possible. The extra time allows for a) bad traffic, b) traffic accidents, c) forgotten-gotta-go-back-home-and-get items, and so on. Nothing like a reading a good book or studying the birds of Brazil while waiting for our flight - in the airport. {Now, I am not sure of the timing of this, but the day before we left or maybe even today as we are on our way to the airport, I discover that we will not be returning Sept 28, Wednesday but on Thursday, Sept 29. This would not be a problem except that I scheduled to see clients on Thursday, "the day after we get back". Luckily, I only have to contact one person to change their appointment but now will end up seeing clients right after we land when we get back in San Jose. I don't want to cancell them all. It's crazy enough that their therapist goes on these long vacations. I'm thankful for texting so that I can contact the one client and change their appointment}

Because of Sharon's cane and my own feet problems, we are able to board American Flight 103 early, and we settle into seats 12D and 12E for the trip to Dallas-Fort Worth. We get there uneventfully, which is the best way to get anywhere, about 7:30 pm. A wheel chair fellow pushes Sharon to our Brazil gate, stowing our carry-on on a rack on the back of the wheel chair. Nice. {We ask for the wheelchair for me now if there is any doubt about getting to the next gate on time. They take such good care of you when you do}

We board American Flight 963 and occupy seats 18E and 18H. We settle in, getting dinner and next morning, breakfast. There seems to be an infinite number of movies to watch, selectable on the screen on the back of the seat in front of us, so there's no straining to see a screen over the door or hanging from the ceiling.

During the trip Sharon watches two or three movies, and I study our bird books and use the Filemaker Pro database I have built containing the bird names and paintings, so you can look at a painting, guess the bird's name, then uncover the actual name. These paintings come from two Brazilian bird books - one for the Atlantic forest, which is roughly parallel to the Brazilian coast, but 20-50 miles inland, and the other for the Pantanal and Cerrado - hotter areas in the interior of Brazil. {It's fun for me now, after our trip, to recognize these names and have memories of them each. Before we left, it was a big blur to me where we would be staying and birding.}

Read more details about the trip planning and overview in Brazil2016List.html.

 

And now, on with the events.

Here I am, in the San Jose airport, birding vest on. This vest is to discourage any potential pickpocket from thinking I have anything valuable on me. It is working very well. So far, no pockets picked. How many pockets would a pickpocket pick, if a pickpocket did pick pockets?

We travel uneventfully to Dallas, get Sharon into a wheel chair piloted by a very friendly Ethiopian fellow, board our flight to Sao Paulo Brazil, and arrive in Sao Paulo early in the morning of September 6th. {How exciting to travel to a foreign country!! Adventures to follow}

It should be noted that the flight to Brazil did not happen as quickly as it took you to read the last sentence.

Cheers,
Bob {and Sharon}


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