Waking up on a cold, grey drizzly December morning in Seattle, who wouldn’t dream of a tropical vacation, especially on their birthday? It was December 6th and for my thirty-sixth birthday I was determined to have a tropical vacation. So I packed a small traveling bag, and walked out the door headed for warmer climes.
On a whim I decided to detour first to the far southern reaches of South America where I fed slippery little fish to eager and comic penguins. Maybe it was was the penguins that triggered the idea but I stepped out of South America and into the pages of Mary Poppins for my next adventure. A carousel stood in a grassy lawn, one frisky silver-maned horse met my eye whinnying an invitation. I climbed on to his slick shiny back and the carousel began to move. Around and around, up and down, my horse and I raced. Mary Poppins never showed up though, so we didn’t quite have the magic to set free of the carousel and go galloping across the country side. The carousel stopped, I gave the horse a pat on the neck and said my goodbyes, stepping back out of the pages of a book and back in rout to the tropics.
Shortly upon arriving in the jungles of South America I was fortunate enough to glimpse a sleek Jaguar crossing a creek on a narrow log before disappearing into the thick growth of tropical vegetation. I went up into the upper and mid stories of the tropical forest, boardwalk under my feet, orchids dripping from branches and scenting the steamy air. I glimpsed ocelots napping on branches high in the trees while bright green snakes draped over limbs and birds of every color flitted and sang all around me. A particularly charismatic and friendly toucan posed this way and that, allowing me the most lovely photographs as I wiped the fog and moisture off the lens between each shot. It was here, among the birds that I stood for a long time, enjoying all the sounds and flashes of color and the way the bold ones would fly so close over my head as to ruffle my hair with the wind of their wing beats. A White-tailed Trogan gobbled up fruit from branches while a Sun Bittern sat securely on a small nest. The occasional tropical downpour would pass over and I would duck under the thickest branches loaded with epiphytes to keep dry. Then the loud roar of rain would pass and the sounds of the birds and the dripping of water would travel to me through the mist. I sighed with contentment. This was just what I needed for my birthday.
Eventually I knew I would have to start my return trip but I wasn’t in such a hurry that I wouldn’t give in to the urge for a stop in Australia to see lazy kangaroos and have a chat with some Kookaburras (about gumdrop trees, of course). From Australia I made one last stop into the high reaches of the Himalayas, where I was the loan observer of a Snow Leopard and her two cubs.
I finally made my way back to the grey drizzle-filled skies of Seattle, just in time for lunch with my mother-in-law.
This world (and literary)tour made possible in full by the Woodland Park Zoo.