I love stories with a character that can identify birds by sound. Some people, particularly in third world countries, know all the birds by sound and sight but know different names for them. Some have a similar knowledge of mammals. In Central America people call jaguars, tigres, which can be confusing because, to a gringo, tigers are striped and jaguars are spotted. When I was in Costa Rica, I saw an ocelot. Seeing cats in the wild is rare. I was with a skinny guy named David. We saw a quick flash of a smallish wild cat dropping from a tree branch. We gave chase. We did not see or hear the cat again. Later, a bull chased us. I turned and chased the bull back. David and I were hiking from somewhere near Monte Verde to a lagoon at the foot of a volcano called Arenal. Toby, a graduate student from the United States living in Monte Verde, told us there was a boat taxi service that would take us across the lagoon so we could visit the town of La Fortuna. There was no such service but armed with a combined vocabulary of dozens of Spanish words we managed to explain our situation to a local who found another local to take us across the lagoon. There were plenty of taxis waiting to drive us the rest of the way into town. We watched howler monkeys resting in the roadside trees as we drove. As soon as we exited the taxi, a young man invited us to a party and promised us, “Muchas pussy,” while making a shape, opposite of phallic, with his fingers intertwined while moving his palms apart. Inexplicably, we ended up not attending the party even with such promising party favors. We did go to a restaurant that served, “comidas typicas,” or typical food. A beautiful, purebred boxer walked in while we were eating then walked out and was promptly hit by a bus.
I was just listening to a story on the radio, and there was a character that was described as having, “learned to recognize all the birds by song.” That is what made me write the first sentence. I had no idea that was going to lead me back to the time when that dog got hit by a bus.