Bird Watching with Bubba

Excerpt No. 1
Ambergris Island

Perfumers of Paris in the 16" century sought after ambergris, the desired rare ingredient needed to supply their wealthy pompous clientele of twitching olfactory receptors with aromatic stimuli, perfume. The hottest industry in France was for a century dependent on the highly sought after ambergris, a substance secreted by temporarily infirmed whales.

As the whale consumed its limit of indigestible shrimp, krill, grit, octopus beaks and sour sargassa polyps, the objectionable indigestible build-up was disposed of as vomitus bile, regurgitated into the warm gulf of its winter home.

In 1775 Whale Puke island could have been its name had the chart maker for Her Majesty's ship had any sense of humor.

News spread in the old world of an island with beaches decorated in ambergris. Great sailing ships doing business in the Bay of Chetumal began to visit with regularity laying the groundwork for a settlement. Suddenly French alchemists discovered coal tar fixatives could replace the expensive and rare ambergris ingredient from the rapidly diminishing whale population.

Its brief popularity faded, Ambergris was left hanging like a tear drop from the tip of the Yucatan. Its shores now decorated only with the dregs of renegade buccaneers and expatriated pirates who had mated with the Mestizo and Maya refugees.

For 200 years Ambergris' population grew slowly, a place where who you were or what you were didn't matter, wild fowl roamed the island, coconuts ,fell from the trees and fish were pulled from the ocean enough to provide an existence for those who could not or did not want to go else where.

A hideout in the world where pirates and misfits could be themselves without worry of law and order, an island paradise!

In the 1960's drug dealers discovered its unprotected border with Mexico, and it became a drop off point for transportation between the Central American producers and the rapidly growing U.S. markets. Its bars were filled with pilots and boat captains using fictitious names, willing to take risky cargo for some quick cash.

Meanwhile, paradise was entering its maturity, as all paradises do. Tourists were discovering its carefree fishing village. It was unavoidable, Ambergris' San Pedro would soon be filled with pasty white bodies clad in tacky floral print asking inane questions and photographing the mundane.

In the 80"s real estate became the popular scam and Ambergris was learning about a new kind of pirate.

Poor Ambergris, from roly-poly whale puke and renegade buccaneers to Central American drug dealers And now unscrupulous scoundrels were selling bits of her to tourists. When Elbert and I arrived, the coconut industry had died the fishermen's cooperative was not providing like it had in the past. Even Buffet had come and gone. It was the birth of tourism that lured Elbert.

SCUBA diving in the Caribbean was hot, and Ambergris Caye, a virgin in this new industry, was in possession of a hundred miles of the most pristine coral reef in the hemisphere. It was for freedom that I was coming to this island.

The rest of the world was unwilling to accept me for what I was. I had been promised that on this island I would never wear a leash. I would never be fenced and my new life would include what many like myself would die for freedom of expression. He had agreed that for the first time my unique abilities wouldn't be kept a secret.

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Birds of Ambergris Caye

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