Outside of the resort walls the sidewalks are uncrowded as I jog along a main thoroughfare of the city. Every so often someone, Mexican always, will cheer me on and wave as I pass. On the other hand, the few tourists that venture onto the street look past me, avoiding eye contact as if I might be mad and could infect them with insanity.
I don’t blame them for avoiding me. What they see is this old man wearing a tattered, blue tee shirt and bright green shorts that have a label that says Guinness on the side. His shoes are a brilliant red and his beard is white and unkempt. The wispy, blond/white hair is too long and flies uncontrolled around and back of his head. HIs scalp and forehead are pink from sunburn, and he is soaking with sweat. He is obviously nuts.
Still, I enjoyed my slow run in the balmy weather of Puerto Vallarta, especially when I thought of the frozen streets in Missoula. A bridge crossed a small stream of clear water where I could see a Snowy Egret that stood on one leg, still, waiting for a fish or frog to appear within spearing distance. A tangle of vines with green leaves reached down from the bridge and dipped into the water. Further downstream a pair of children ran along the sand, in and out of the grass along the bank.
Most of the the view during my jogs was not of nature but instead on one side of the sidewalk more resorts or shopping centers and on the other the busy street filled with buses, taxis, cars and trucks. At the end was a large harbor where a huge, monster of a cruise ship was docked. A long line of passengers who’d just disembarked were passing through a gate taking advantage of the port of call to do some shopping at the nearby mall. This was my turn-around point.
The round trip distance of my jogs was about two and a half miles, just enough to give me enough exercise to sweat out the toxins of tequila from the previous night. My reward was being able to jump into one of the pools at the end of my run and then sit in a jacuzzi for ten or fifteen minutes.
It was always a pleasure to watch the pelicans as they hunted for fish. The awkward looking birds with short, round bodies and wide wing spans actually looked graceful as they floated above the water’s surface. They would follow each other in a line of three or four as they hunted. Suddenly one would fold its wings and dive down into the sea where it would submerge and swim under water and then come up and fly into the air with a rubbery pouch filled with water and fish.
High above the pelicans the black frigate birds would soar, barely moving their long wings as they caught the rising air currents. Bright crimson badges could be seen on the male’s chest while the females had white heads and chest patches. The bodies resembled crows but the wings were long and slender. The tails were elongated and forked like swallows.
It was mid morning when a young mother and two children were close to the ocean when a man came down the beach with a pail of entrails, no doubt from one of the restaurants. When he threw the mess of guts into the surf, the area was quickly filled with diving pelicans as they fought for the treats. The children thought the birds were great fun and they ran to get closer to the action.
The riot was soon joined by frigate birds as they wanted their share of the treats in the water. They were at a disadvantage as the pelicans could carry large chunks of intestine in their pouches while the frigate birds could take pieces into the air only to drop most of their prize after snipping off a bite.
Both pelicans and frigate birds are large, almost as big as eagles. The sight of the small children among the feeding frenzy was unnerving, almost like a horror movie, but the kids just laughed and threw sand at the birds. They ignored their mom who was clearly concerned about the commotion. But, the calamity eventually calmed down as the food was either devoured, carried away or swept out to sea where it sunk to feed the fish.