Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Evenful Birding Sunday

So today we decided to take a stroll (ride) down to the everglades.
They are sort of the second cousin to the Okovango Delta in Botswana, but they quite nice, if some what built up and controlled.
We wanted to do some serous birding, even though we had both birded the 'glades twice before.

The road is the inevitable tar road. Makes stopping difficult .
Anyway we arrive at the visitors center and the sign there says something like $5 per person, $10 per vehicle, etc etc.
So we say to the male blond behind the counter we want to pay for a car and can we buy a map.
"Sure thing."
"So, how long is the road"?
"About 24 miles", he says. ( here they still use miles, but sell Coke in 2 litre bottles and have a decimal currency, for my SA readers)
Cool.
We get in our car and we can't see actually where the road starts, but after driving around looking we find a road that starts

With this sign.
Well, there are buses standing around and another sign says that cyclists must stop for vehicles, so we cruise in.
I mean, we paid, so we must be authorized, right?

Very cool, actually.
We were doing some good birding, and also saying that is sort of reminded us of Botswana.
Only here you don't crack a few beers while you drive, because they lock the key up and throw you away.
So we busy checking out a Kingfisher, and as I pull away, I hear
Aaaaayyy!!!!!!
Frack, we nearly shat ourselves.
Next thing one of the Rangers that drives the Tram/Bus thing, which has pulled up behind us, walks up to us.
He is so the moer-in that you could hard-boil an egg in his butt.
"Do you know how many laws you have broken?"
"Laws, what laws?"
And then he goes into a rant and rave of how we are not allowed to drive on this road and that the police are right behind him and that basically we are in deep, deep shit.
He was ejecting spit and foam from his mouth, he was so mad.
Literally.



He stomps off and the next thing, this the cop pitches.
He like stands behind me and in a military type voice asks me,
"Is this a Renal?"
"No," I say, "it's a Volkswagen"
I wondered why he was asking me if this was a Renault.
I mean what has the fracking cars make got to do with it?
" Give me your renal 'greemnt, sir"

AHA!! a rental agreement.
We gave him our passports, St. Maarten drivers licence, international drivers licence, and renal'greement


He disappears into his flashing car and starts talking into the microphone, typing on his computer, and writing up a storm,---frack.
Another cop car pitches, light a-flashing in the everglades.


Well, the birds were certainly gone, but maybe the flashing lights would attract some mating fireflies....


After about ten minutes, he emerges and give us back our documentation.
One by one.
He then reads us the riot act.
This time he is giving us a warning. No summons, no fine. No swat team.


But if we ever do something like this again, under article frack knows what and according to act whatever, we will probably get the death penalty, if we lucky...



And now we must turn around and he will escort us back.
Being South Africans, we were hysterical with laughter as we drove back.
Although we were innocent this time, generally Sa's ask for forgiveness before permission.

Pissed off cop in authorised vehicle.
Well, it turns out that we had gone down the Tram/Bus/ cyclists route by mistake, and that the real road, which was a public road, was five miles from the entrance or the park.
'Ole blond boy-ranger at the counter forget to tell us that.
So we tootled down the main road and turned into the right road.
And after a while we hit ...


THE FIRST GRAVEL ROAD WE HAVE FOUND ON THIS TRIP!
Very cool.
Even without any beers.
Unlike in Botswana, but hey, who are we to complain.
And so the 'renal Vola became a 4x4.


Now I has written before of how I think this car is a piece of shit.
It did not take long for my theory to be proven.

As I stopped to photograph some Khaki Bos in the everglades ( can you believe that khaki bos grows here?) I looked back at the Vola and the fracking headlight was gone.
No shit.
That must have been the BANG! Anne and I heard a little way back.
We even stopped to see if any cop/ranger was stuck under the car, but unfortunately there were none to be found.

So there was a whole lot of walking and reversing and some more walking that took place.
And then, I kid you not, that pissed off cop drove past.
Evil glare and all that.
Frack him, anyway.

I found it, and I earned 50 Brownie points.
We put it on the back seat and I refitted it at the end of the gravel road.
I have never had a headlight fall out of a car, and believe me I have driven on much, much more rough roads than the video shows.

Make no mistake the glade have some pretty places.


And like this dude, all's well that ends well.
We went back, and had a brilliant meal at one of the restaurants that Lynda recommended,
( thanks Lynda :)
And like I said all's well that end well. especially if you not in jail......
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