THE SCARLET ADVENTURES
A FAIRY TALE ANIMATED CARTOON MUSIC VIDEO ABOUT MODERN LIFE,
FEATURING THE MUSIC OF LIQUIDISLAND, WRITTEN AND COMPOSED BY KEITH A. FORMAN.
CREATED AND PRODUCED BY JEFFREY PERGAMENT, ARTIST/OWNER,
VISUAL PHENOMENA STUDIO
ONE PARROT’S JOURNEY FROM FLEDGLING TO MACAW, OR
HOW DID THAT FRICKIN’ MACAW GET CHOSEN FOR THE CD?
A musical adventure animated cartoon featuring the music of LIQUIDISLAND; songs by Keith A. Forman, BMI songwriter and founding bandleader.
LIQUIDISLAND OFFICIAL WEB SITE: www.liquidisland.net
Copyright ©2018 by CEI T/A VISUAL PHENOMENA; all rights reserved domestically and internationally.
Once upon a time, there was a scarlet macaw that seemed a little different from the other macaws. Other birds had interesting names – Carmen LaVida, Coco Merida, Veracruz Sammy – all very cool birds and all hatched in eastern Mexico (except Carmen who was the younger brother of two birds and named after the eastern Mexico city where they lived until last year – Playa Del Carmen, a resort town in the heart of the Mayan Riviera and well renowned for its deep sea fishing and its active nightlife, and not where he and his slightly older bird brother were hatched. Everyone assumed that Carmen was hatched in Playa Del Carmen. Macaws always named their fledglings something relative to their hatchplace).
This scarlet macaw’s name was Cayo and he was as proud as a single male green-feathered, red-cheeked millennial macaw in his prime of 20 years could be. But his name was Cayo. He couldn’t even pretend to come from Tampico, even if he wanted to have been hatched there because his name was Cayo. But he didn’t really mind his name; the truth is that Cayo loved where he was hatched. He was hatched in the United States of America on an island that was the happiest and craziest and most fascinating place he had ever lived. Key West was his first nest; his first flight zone; his first everything that a fledgling would do before leaving the cavity nest and his mother to create and establish his own cavity nest. Cayo never travelled very far from his mother’s nest, however, and the Key West banyan tree on Whitehead Street was large enough and wide enough to be near to his parents but isolated from their birds’ eye view of the world around them.
Cayo loved Key West. Key West, unfortunately didn’t love Cayo. Key West* and all of the United States didn’t love any birds. There was talk of enclosing Key West with a dome cage to prevent any birds from perching or nesting on the island’s trees as they flew overhead from their winter homes in Central and South America and from throughout the tropical Caribbean region below the Tropic of Cancer to their northern homes on the USA mainland and in Canada and the rest of North America.
*Every scarlet macaw learnes two things about Cayo Hueso – 1. no natural ground water to drink; the drinking water comes from Miami through an old pipe and 2. the cats on Key West are known for their 6 toes on each paw, which is more than the 5 toes a normal cat grows – there is something about Hemingway, a bottle of scotch, a big sword fish, a Cuban cigar and an old typewriter in a house on Whitehead Street with a herd of cats that had 6 or more toes on each paw. “A herd of cats?” “Of course I’ve heard of cats!”
The worst situation that could occur is when a bird is hatched in Key West when the mating season came off-schedule and the weather in Belize was too hot, too soon or the wind drifts carried the birds more north-easterly and away from the Yucatan Peninsula across the point where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean met between Cuba and the USA off the coast of Cayo Hueso and that surround the Dry Tortugas, or a hurricane that formed from the desert winds of Africa crossed the Earth’s surface and headed toward the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic Ocean and left a trail of devastation, surface destruction and thousands of dead birds along the way.
The scarlet macaw’s survival instinct causes its procreative systems to over-react to the imminent threat of life-threatening environmental conditions or loss of life and start ruffling each other’s feathers. The seasonal changes force a macaw to fly off course and the prevailing hurricane winds establish a northeast flight pattern instead of north – northwest and, when the luckiest of macaws, can arrive alive yet weather-beaten and wind-tossed in Key West rather than dead in the ocean between Belize, the USA, the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba. That would have been a lethal scarlet adventure for Itza or Chichen LaVida as they flew home the year their boys were hatched.
Rough weather wasn’t the only thing about which a macaw had to battle. Hunters, poachers, landowners who were causing the destruction of habitat through deforestation and the spraying of pesticides for cultivating and selling bananas and other fruits and nuts for export played a significant role in decreasing scarlet macaw life expectancy. Although the average lifespan of a scarlet is 80 years, to fly through life’s winds on the battlefield day after day, when every day is a life and death, in your face challenge, does not allow enough time or natural inclination to make a cavity nest, engage the mating process and fledge the nest of the baby macaws. Throughout Costa Rica, unfortunately for the birds, sometimes a bird would fly in the wrong direction because of a chemical imbalance or disorientation from the pesticide or a chemical in the birdbath water or drinking reservoirs upon which all living species relied throughout the Caribbean and Central American areas, but with modern surface development covering the once-pristine environment and the beachfronts and forests that were the habitat for all the birds, the all-year-round tropical and the winter visitors from North America, South America and other areas of Central America, Costa Rica was not the rich coast where macaws would flock year after year after year. Visitors from Spain never seemed to visit but in recent years, many visitors have come to this region of the world from several locations in the Middle East, from Venezuela to the Rio Grande border between Mexico and Texas, USA, where no birds are allowed to perch or nest. Birds could fly across the land mass and pause to obtain water but unless they were an indigenous USA bird, drink, splash and fly away – no perching; no nesting! This was the humans’ law – to macaws, ground-level erect-walking humans are a strange species of flockers in many ways.
Frankly, all living members of all the species that inhabit this planet Earth have this same water-based requirement to sustain life on this planet. But that issue as the main theme of this adventure is for another scarlet adventure. This scarlet adventure introduces Cayo and Carmen LaVida, brother macaws and members of the LaVida family flock of scarlet macaws from Tampico, Mexico. They are the offspring of Itza and Chichen LaVida, the flock leader and his mate for life. Chichen and Itza were not hatched in Tampico. They were hatched and fledged in Chichen Itza, of course. They met on a very special day in Key West, Florida and this is THE SCARLET ADVENTURE today.
The LaVida family flock of scarlet macaws relocated to Tampico, Mexico from Playa Del Carmen as the urban population of ground-walking humans and the accompaniment of a drug-related nightlife ruffled a few of Itza’s and Chichen’s feathers and as the leader of the flock, Itza gathered the entire flock, destroyed their respective cavity nests and abondoned what had been their private sinkhole paradise for almost 19 years of flying back and forth from Playa Del Carmen to Belize. The LaVida family flock quickly made their nests in Tampico. The flock leader doesn’t have to provide a reason or justification to the flock – 1. they are birdbrains; they cannot think; they are not human; 2. they are followers; there is one leader only per flock of macaws and parrots.
When mating season begins, a bird has to do what a bird has to do. There is a reason birds shake their tail feathers; it is because they have something about which to shake a tail feather or two. Drawing attention and being the attraction are what macaws do to sustain their design for living. The life design applies to all of us: male + female = birth + death = infinity. This formula is the cycle of life for all living entities.
Scarlet macaws live in large families or colonies called flocks. To communicate, they make very loud vocalizations, which can be heard echoing from the cavities of the trees in the forests and bouncing from the concrete, glass, wood and brick man-made facades in the developed parts of the world. The flock of scarlet macaws in which Cayo’s and Carmen’s family flew during migration times always flew from Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula to Belize for the winter and then would return to Playa Del Carmen for the springtime and the rainy season that began in May and usually ended during September. Although macaws could rest for a short period of time in Carillo Puerto, a logical distance between the two destinations, teenagers were known to rule the city, as they are allowed to drive at any age and their parents have strong power over the government. Quads are seen more than cars “cruising” around. Also known as La Ruana, The Poncho, with about 9,600 people, it’s located in the hot Tierra Caliente valley in close proximity to El Crucero, Buena Vista and Santa Ana. Recently, most of its streets were paved. It has one Catholic church with a nun-run school and a plaza with a kiosk in the center. Local families are very tied down and their Mayan nationalities run back for many years. Those families that were the first to become part of La Ruana are the Calderon, Beltran, Valencia, Godinez, Mendoza, Torres, Quintero, Rodriguez, Villa, Cisneros, Garcia, Ochoa, Capilla and Bonilla families. These are the same family names we watch in the news broadcasts about this region of the world.
Carillo Puerto, Mexico = La Ruana (“The Poncho”)
Most of the jobs in Carillo Puerto are in agriculture such as lemons, grapefruit and bananas but specific crops needed to manufacture street level recreational drugs and distribute these drugs around the world also are sown, reaped and harvested to manufacture the drugs that are killing people all around the world day after day after day.. Everybody knew that many members of the Familia Michoacana hold hospitality in Carillo Puerto. Mexican Federal Police declared on November 2, 2011, that the La Familia cartel had been disbanded but there is a new cartel in Carillo Puerto called Los Tequileros, a mix of Templarios and La Familia cartel members. The facts tell a completely different story than the fairytale presented to the world by the Mexican Federal Police.
Today, in 2017, there is a battle for power between La Familia and Los Templarios. La Familia, led by Johnny Hurtado Olascoaga, “El Pescado”, and Los Tequileros, led by Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, “El Tequilero”, are disputing for the control of the drug corridor that connects the sierra and the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero with Michoacán and the State of Mexico. San Antonio de la Gavia, in the municipality of San Miguel Totolapan, is considered to be the center of operations of Los Tequileros.
On August 4, 2015, a video was circulated on YouTube where the then-elected mayor of San Miguel Totolapan, Juan Mendoza Acosta, held a meeting with members of Los Tequileros and while they were drinking alcoholic beverages, he expresses support for this criminal group. “Ponte verga, cocho, just like how we made you win, prick, gives us your hand and it’s not worth it,” a man tells the mayor; the mayor answers: “When will I fail you? So tell me, when will I fail you, assholes?”
In another part of the video they ask “are you going to work with us? You know you’re with us, yes or no?” and he responds, “We will! I will never work with other cochos,” says Mendoza Acosta. Cocho is a vulgar Mexican-Spanish word that has no equivalent in the English language, and mainly used in the dialects of the southern Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and the vicinity. As if all this were not enough to keep a macaw from resting or nesting in the drug-related ground-level war zone of Carillo Puerto, there also are many mosquitoes from the hot, humid weather and all the agriculture around it, just like the New Jersey marshlands that existed pre-development from Philadelphia to Trenton and south through the entire southern New Jersey region. It is said that at any one time, you could count 300 mosquitos on the horses used for the pony express mail delivery between Philadelphia and Trenton and that the riders would wrap themselves with newsprint to avoid being swarmed by all the mosquitos. Even the human species disliked the mosquitos. Most scarlet macaws would fly non-stop from Belize to Playa Del Carmen and never, ever rest or nest openly in La Ruana rather than risk a mosquito bite from a self-propelled, infectious fluid, blood-sucking winged hypodermic needle and why on Earth would nature ever create and produce such an unessential design for a member of a living species?
Humans are a funny species to macaws. Ground-walkers are very strange flockers to a flock of flying scarlet macaws. Macaws come in all different colors from red to green to yellow to blue and some have white beaks and some have black beaks and some have half black and half white beaks and some have them reversed so the white is on the top and some have red lines squiggly around their pupils and some are black and some are white on white but they all are macaws and fly in the same flock and all macaws weigh about 2.2 pounds, the equivalent of a kilo of cocaine or any other mass of similar weight and dimension, ironically, and macaws stand at about 32” (81.3 cm) – half tail; half body length. It never matters to a macaw what color bird feathers you may have.
What does matter to a macaw, however, is where the fledgling hatched. That is why bird names can be a problem for a macaw in a non-birthplace location. The macaws return to eastern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula to mate – the mating season lasts about 6 – 8 weeks for scarlet macaws and every macaw in the LaVida flock hatched their babies in Playa Del Carmen. At least, this is what the entire flock thought. Everyone did have their fledglings in Playa Del Carmen except the leader of the flock and his mate’s two sons were not hatched in Mexico.
No one knew Itza and Chichen LaVida’s secret – every macaw thought Carmen was hatched there because his name was Carmen and they nested in Playa Del Carmen. but they always wondered about Cayo. He wasn’t like the rest of the flock, even when flocking together. But they are birdbrains and never gave it a second thought. Chichen banked on this fact for almost twenty years. Cayo was older than Carmen by a few pecks against the interior shell to break out of the egg but Carmen was larger, more feathered and a trademark handsome male scarlet red macaw – completely covered with brilliant red feathers ever since he was hatched. Cayo had no feathers and was a very pale, pink-skinned baby macaw. Neither bird was the usual macaw baby because they had been born elsewhere – Cayo and Carmen LaVida were born in Key West, Florida and not in Mexico.
The two brothers were illegal Americans living in eastern Mexico under false pretenses for 2 decades. Macaws leave their parents’ nest after the first year but they remain in the same flock and Cayo and Carmen always were close to Itza and Chichen. There was a second secret that the LaVida family had kept for more than 20 years – that Cayo is the first-born even though Carmen is a bigger, more handsome and stronger red scarlet macaw than the mixed color chart of yellows, greens, reds, black lines around the eyes and a black beak that are the coat of Cayo. Bird color doesn’t matter but some birds do have less than beautiful colors or feather plumage. Macaws have learned to consider that one bird is a very colorful bird rather than pointing out the beauty of the bird in the company of the less colorful, less attractive birds in the LaVida flock.
Cayo always thought there was something wrong with him because his brother was a brilliant red-feathered baby macaw and all he could see was how pale and pink-skinned he was while he saw how luxuriously his parents’ feathers were, in full plume during mating season and although monogamous, Cayo’s dad always seemed feather-fluffed when he was near his mother – they were in love with and for each other for the rest of their lives. That’s how it works with macaws. Ever since the two adult macaws had met in a banyan tree in Key West, they always flew as a pair from eastern Mexico to Belize and back and anywhere else that they may fly when either the north or south migration flight had been completed and they could let the flock loose for the seasons in one semi-permanent nesting area. Cayo’s father was a magnificent scarlet macaw who stood taller than most macaws with extended tail feathers. His feathers were bright green with a bright red bush that outlined his upper beak. He could fly at speeds approaching 45 mph and was expected to live for 80 years, just like Cayo’s grand-dad macaw and his great-grand-dad macaw – all scarlet macaws have a life span of about 80 years. When Itza led the flock back and forth to Belize from Playa Del Carmen, he kept his fly speed at 35 mph; 56 km/h, the scarlet macaw average fly speed.
Now 40 years of age, Itza had led the flock for 19 years so far, since November, 1998, following the many drownings that occurred during the hurricane season. Itza’s sons were yearlings and had just left their cavity nest but never flew too far away from their parent’s cavity to make their nests in other trees near the sinkhole reservoir in Playa Del Carmen. This year Itza will not lead the flock. His son, Carmen, who the flock thinks is Itza’s first-hatched offspring, has been chosen to lead the flock to Belize for the winter.
The LaVida family and the entire flock generally were a very close and protective flock of scarlets. Every bird knew every other bird and who they had mated and where they were hatched and from what nest they had fledged. That is, they thought they did – Itza had convinced the flock that Carmen LaVida was their first-hatched macaw from Chichen and himself to protect his family from being outcast from the flock as illegal birds of North America, and that Cayo hatched unexpectedly while returning to Playa Del Carmen from a winter in Belize the year after Carmen had been hatched. That year was Itza’s first year as leader of the flock, and no birdbrain was going to question what the wife of the leader of the flock had to tell them. The lack of feathers on Cayo’s body convinced the lie by logical visual proof. Cayo had been hidden from the world for two years to create this lie for the LaVida family flock. Like his father before him, Carmen spent a lot of time in his first 19 years as a high-flying, brilliant red, highly visible scarlet macaw on a fast-paced “the sky’s the limit” scarlet adventure. He always reviewed the flock’s female scarlets from afar that would try to attract his attention as he flew purposefully by them to attract their attention and to find a mate eventually, but he was the younger son of Itza and Chichen, despite his physical size and beautiful plumage, and was not the one macaw to whom just any female scarlet macaw could shake its tail feathers and think that he would be ruffled, attracted, mated and nested for the rest of his life. He still had 60 years to go. He also had family secrets to protect from the rest of the flock and he didn’t trust any other macaw in the flock. He had to protect his own brother, mother and father because that is what a macaw family flock does. He was the stronger brother and he had a responsibility to his family, but especially to his brother who resigned his pecking order to him, to sustain all of their lives as the top priority in all his affairs as an adult scarlet macaw. Now he was the leader of the flock and he was responsible for the entire flock of macaws – their lives now depended on his actions twice each year to fly south or north, depending on the migratory season they encountered. Carmen saw no hurry in having a mate and enjoyed his private solo high-flying aerobics maneuvers day after day across the warm tropical winds above the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula. Who wouldn’t love to fly like a macaw above the Yucatan Peninsula?
Carmen never wanted to stay in a cavity nest by himself, let alone with any additional macaws with him in the sdame cavity ne for too long. He would fly around in the sky above the Playa Del Carmen beach as fast as he could go and think to himself with his birdbrain about flying to the world’s second largest reef system, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. This reef system extended along the coast of five countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It began near Isla Contoy on the northern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and continued south alongside the Riviera Maya including areas like Cozumel and Banco Chinchorro. It then continued south down the eastern coast of Belize incorporating many cays and atolls. It extended past the northeast corner of Honduras and ended in Nicaragua. As leader of the flock, Carmen could initiate this flight plan to Belize but this path was 100% above water. Carmen knew he would have to fly this path as a solo flight because many of the flock members, older and younger, could not cover such a distance without land beneath their wings and places to stop, perch and rest along the migratory journey, and that is what a macaw flock leader has to decide – birdbrains are either yes or no – there is no third selection for a birdbrain.
Until he met “the one,” Carmen would fly every day to approach his father’s 45 mph flight speed record and challenge him as the flock leader. He wanted to approach 50 mph as a scarlet macaw above the Yucatan Peninsula – he would be the first speed bird to set this mark in the sky. This was what a male macaws do as they mature – challenge the older ones in the established pecking order to claim their respective flock position. For Carmen, his challenge was his father, the current leader of the flock and the one he honors with his life for his life in the macaw family flock pecking order. Fortunately, the leadership role was transitioned gently from father to son without a challenge but Carmen knew he could fly 45 mph. He wanted to fly faster than his father and faster than any other scarlet macaw. Besides, this kept his single-focus birdbrain on flying and not on mating.
Tampico, Mexico; summer nesting region for the LaVida family flock of macaws.
The one who changed this single-minded focus was a prettier, younger version of Carmen in a mirror – same red feathers; same bold brilliance; same proud posture and just as scrutinizing of other macaws as Carmen could be and she was a female scarlet macaw without a mate – alone in the LaVida flock without parents. She was his visual opposite-gender almost exact mirror image twin bird from another nest. Scarlet Playa had known Carmen LaVida since they were yearlings when the LaVida flock finally gathered at Playa Del Carmen after the early season hurricane had passed through their flight path and desecrated the flock, sending the macaws in all directions and killing some by any of several ways – crashing into a standing tree or concrete block structure with hurricane force, drowning in the water below the flight path because exhaustion from going against the wind took every last ounce of strength or they were blown too far off-course that no return to Playa Del Carmen would ever occur. Carmen and Scarlet always were friends but they never flocked by themselves without the rest of the flock of macaws. The last time that Scarlet Playa saw Carmen LaVida alone was the day that Itza told him when he visited his parents’ nest by the sinkhole that he was going to be flock leader. Itza and Carmen immediately took flight to gather the flock and to prepare to migrate to Belize for the coming winter season. He never was able to reconnect with Scarlet before the migration began.
During winter migration, some of the elder macaws and the orphaned families of the scarlet macaws who had died always flew close to the leader’s immediate family because there were no adult dominant males to escort these widowed and orphaned macaws for the winter migration to Belize. The widower macaws who had flight strength flew at the rear of the flock to protect the “6” of the entire flock from surprises coming from behind the flock. This flock system was repeated year after year after year. Except that one year 19 years ago when Itza and Chichen got blown astray by the hurricane’s spiraling high speed winds which carried them across the gulf and ocean water north of Havana and straight onto the island of Key West, Florida in the United States of America, a very far distance and northeast from Playa Del Carmen. Whoever thought that two different macaws such as Itza and Chichen could stay together and lead a flock of scarlet macaws back and forth, year after year, after bumping into each other on a tree limb in a tropical foreign country – two twenty-something Mexican scarlet macaws that fell in love watching the sunset in Cayo Hueso. The two adult macaws began to attract each other because that is what macaws do during mating season. Macaws are typically monogamous. This was love birds at first sight, or should I say perch? After all, no bird ever plans on what tree branch will be the exact final destination during migration upon which the bird will perch. Storm-tossed and weather-beaten, these two loving scarlet macaws paid no attention to the fact that they had been spending more time in the USA than any two Mexican birds should have spent.
Mating season approached and lasted 8 weeks that year and the two macaws would rest and replenish, and repeat this loving activity during the entire 8 weeks in Key West before flying southwest again and returning to eastern Mexico for the upcoming summer in eastern Mexico. The Key West sunsets illuminated their temporary world in an amazing color wash of reds and oranges and golden yellows and their time together was so enjoyable during this first encounter that they didn’t want to leave Cayo Hueso, the Spanish name for Key West so they named their first-hatched bird son Cayo LaVida, since he was born on Cayo Hueso, which is Spanish for Bone Cay, the English literal translation as well as “West” so Cayo Hueso is Key West. Chichen and Itza were birds of Mexico – they would never name their first-hatched bird son an English language name such as “West.”150 miles south-southwest from Miami Beach, Florida where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet each other and 90 miles north from Cuba is the island of Key West. Further out to sea are the Dry Tortugas which is a Gulf of Mexico series of out-islands that macaws do not enjoy. Whether Bone Cay, Key West or Cayo Hueso, the name did not matter to Itza and Chichen. It was the perfect place at the perfect time for their first scarlet adventure together. Cayo and Carmen had not hatched as yet and Itza was still ruffling her feathers all the time.
When the sun sets across the Gulf of Mexico, everyone in Key West stands at the bulkhead at Mallory Pier facing the setting sun as it falls below the horizon line across the Gulf of Mexico and then claps to announce their collective “good-bye” to the set sun that fell below the visible and imaginary horizon line 35 miles away as the macaw flies and only an hour to the horizon that doesn’t exist for Itza, leader of the pack. No one knows how Itza can tell time but he would fly exactly for an hour and the flock would see him touch that imaginary line and then circle in the air above the imaginary line to return to the flock that was waiting excitedly and making several loud macaw sounds in anticipation of his beautiful landings, a trademark for the flights of Itza to the imaginary horizon line 35 miles away from the shoreline.
The Key West humans would turn away from the waterfront when the day ended with its promoted sunsets, and the night began, and go their respective ways as if they never before had met. This also seemed very odd to macaws because everybody knows that birds of a feather flocked together. The entire city was filled with jubilant, semi-intoxicated humans with all types of mating rituals and partners – rarely did you see a pair of humans mate for life with a similar human. The human species now faces a 50% separation of mates rate and that cannot be a sustaining platform and foundation for the life expectancy of this species, can it? The humans that covered the streets, beaches, docks, bulkheads and sidewalks of Key West fascinated the two honey-mooning macaws and when they saw a corner venue that was named The Green Parrot in English and El Loro Verde in Spanish, they thought the island must love parrots and after all, macaws were by species definition parrots. While recuperating together after the hurricane had brought them to Key West, it became time for Chichen to nest in a cavity in their favorite banyan tree and lay her eggs. Cayo hatched in 25 days and his brother, Carmen, hatched at almost the very same time in the very same nest. Cayo wasn’t very pretty as far as birds go. As I said, he had pale, pink skin and little to no down but his brother, although younger by a few shell pecks, had beautiful bright red down feathers as if he were out of his egg for a week before Cayo hatched, instead of a few pecks after him. He was bigger, brighter and younger in the pecking order. This always seemed to bother Cayo – how could he come first but be the runt of the flock? Cayo never let any other macaw or anyone else know how he felt.
105 days after they hatched, Cayo and Carmen LaVida fledged from their birth nest in the banyan tree and began to circle around Key West in the air above the city. Macaws generally fledge after 90 days but Key West is a laid-back place and another 15 days was no big deal to the LaVida macaw family, nesting in the Whitehead Street banyan tree in the southernmost city in the continental USA. The people that walked on the sidewalk below their private cavity in paradise were very different than the people who walked below them in eastern Mexico or Belize. The macaws didn’t understand what the differences could be; they are birdbrains, but they understood that something different was happening in the United States that wasn’t happening wherever else they had flown and nested. Even the beach was different – it wasn’t white and soft and beautiful like Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen or Cancun. Key West was crushed coral rock with big and chunky grains of sandy materials and it tasted like human fecal waste because the beach was inside the coral reef that was located 4 miles from the Atlantic shoreline of Key West and the island had changed drastically since late September, 1998 after getting struck by Hurricane Georges and being submerged in chest-deep ocean, gulf and sewerage water mixed with submerged and floating solid waste products, broken and dead tree limbs, hard surface parts of buildings and small dead animal carcasses for 3 continuous days. When FEMA arrived in Key West after the storm ended to clean this environmental impact, they steamed and pressure-washed the damaged buildings and bull-dozed the remaining dried and decaying mixed solid debris into a giant mound of material and then left Key West as if the post-disaster clean-up was completed. By January, 1999, the Atlantic Ocean inside the reef off of the beachfront of the Conch Republic, Key West, Florida USA, for the first time since water testing began, had tested positive for fecal chloroform bacterial content.
Cancun was getting worse; Cancun was originally a beautiful pristine beach that was lined by forest and the macaws could find a cavity and nest in a very comfortable manner along the oceanfront. In the 1970s, the Mexican government decided to develop Cancun into a resort area. In 2017, it is one of Mexico’s most popular travel destinations and attracts millions of visitors every year. Cancun has everything that humans want to enjoy by the ocean and beach, but it no longer is a comfortable place for a macaw. Without trees, there are no cavities in which to nest and live as free as a bird should be. A cavity nest in a concrete block structure simply is not natural for a macaw to undertake so it doesn’t.
Scarlet macaws make loud, low-pitched, throaty squawks and screams, mostly eat fruits and seeds, flock together as a family based on their hatch locations and mate for life as a monogamous living species. Like other parrots, they are seed predators; they destroy the seeds that they eat and do not disperse them. They have hooked beaks; birds that do not have hooked beaks but rather shorter, simple pointed tips like a cockatoo’s, drop what isn’t eaten or swallowed, and allow seeds and nut particles to return to the earth and continue to cycle in the natural order of the ecosystem. When Cayo and Carmen heard Itza’s loud, throaty screams, they knew it was time to stop whatever they were doing and immediately return to their nest. The boys knew that today was the day – today they were going to fly across the Gulf of Mexico for the first time to their final destination and their next home, Playa Del Carmen. The flight path took them southwest toward Havana from Key West and then they flew over land as they turned due west from Havana toward Cancun at the top of the Yucatan Peninsula. From there, the small family flock turned southward along the coastline of the peninsula to Playa Del Carmen, and the start of THE SCARLET ADVENTURE: ONE PARROT’S JOURNEY FROM FLEDGLING TO MACAW, OR HOW DID THAT FRICKIN’ MACAW GET CHOSEN FOR THE CD?
The LaVida scarlet macaw family had lived in the same cavity nest in a tree that was away from every other flock member macaw nest and cavity. As flock leader, Itza had this one privilege and any other aspects that a flock leader may entertain when other macaws wanted something and would drop their shit on the outside of his resident cavity to let him know they had something for him and wanted something from him in return. Bird bartering was a way of life in any flock of macaws. Some macaws were good barter flockers and some macaws were bad barter flockers. The flock leader was the leader for only one purpose – to gather the flock for migration and then fly the flight pattern as the lead bird in whatever formation the macaw group could maintain. That is why the same pattern is repeated every season – there is only one best solution to every situation – even a birdbrain knows this fact! Itza’s and Chichen’s cavity nest was close to a sinkhole in Playa Del Carmen ever since they first flew there with the yearling baby macaws when they were just over 4 months of age and had fledged from their birth nest in the Key West banyan tree on Whitehead Street. Cayo and Carmen found other cavities in the neighboring trees that circled the sinkhole and although they slept in separate cavity nests, the sons of Itza and Chichen LaVida always spent their time awake flocking with all the other scarlet macaws that followed Itza and Chichen each year when the flock migrated to Belize for the winter months, November through April, and then back again to Playa Del Carmen in the heart of the Mayan Riviera.
The eastern coast of Mexico also attracted thousands of travelers with a cultural interest. The Yucatan Peninsula presents some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world and seafood eaters travel in droves to this part of the country. The sinkholes in the Yucatan Peninsula are filled with extremely clear water that are great for macaws for drinking, bathing and exploring and also for humans for swimming, snorkeling and exploring. The nightlife in Playa Del Carmen had changed over the past 19 years and it was becoming a modern metropolis and presented what nay international metro center could offer in the 21st. Century – the central area of Playa Del Carmen was a loud and vibrant city that came alive with a new wave of humans after nightfall began and the macaws had returned to their cavities at the end of their day doing whatever a macaw does during its day – eating, fluffing ruffling, defecating and flying, perching and whatever else they do. The volume of the nonstop music that filled the night air was not the types of songs that macaws enjoyed repeating. Macaws are considered sociable and affectionate and some talk quite well. Macaws are particularly curious, intelligent birds that require constant stimulation, whether entertaining themselves or in the company of other birds. They form strong bonds with their mate and flock; when these bonds are broken macaws exhibit signs of stress, including chewing or plucking out their own feathers.
The crazy lifestyles and the street level drug distribution situations became a cause for concern to Itza and Chichen and relocated the entire flock to protect their boys for their one last year before reaching the end of their first quarter of their expected lifespan of 80 years. For Chichen, of course, it seemed as if they were fledglings only yesterday. Itza, Chichen, Cayo and Carmen LaVida had lived near a sinkhole where underwater explorers, resort developers with water-based amusement rides and other entertainment ancillaries began to attract more and more human visitors to their once very private sinkhole. The new surface development and increased activity in the sinkhole water reservoir was profit-driven and designed to get the most people in and out of the water quickly and efficiently without any concern for the natural habitat. When the transient visitors and day-trippers who brought processed, chemically treated city food to this pristine sinkhole, the fresh fruits and seeds that were readily available naturally began to diminish. Additionally, the human species waste disposal systems changed the ecosystem for the macaws irrevocably. Many macaw species now are endangered. All macaws are at risk due to the following combination of factors: 1. Macaws face habitat loss through deforestation and environmentally unbalanced, over-developed resort hospitality venues; 2. Macaws are captured from the wild and sold to the lucrative tropical birds pet trade legally and illegally; 3. Hunting, poaching, and the spraying, pouring and spilling of pesticides and/or other toxic or lethal chemicals are just a few more reasons their numbers are decreasing. Chemical defoliation eliminated any residential areas for macaws in Columbia and Brazil also is becoming less and less suitable to sustain a flock of macaws during the winter months of migratory season, when all migratory birds go south for the winter. The region of flight for the LaVida scarlet macaw flock was from Cancun to Nicaragua and back – never vary from the flight path – subject to the conditions about which we have already learned – a hurricane, without which there never would have been THE SCARLET ADVENTURE, ©2017 by Jeffrey Pergament, Author, Creative Developer, Lead Animator, Creative Director and Executive Producer for Barking Dog Productions, an A-V Multi-Media Division of VISUAL PHENOMENA STUDIO dba CEI T/A VISUAL PHENOMENA; all rights reserved domestically and Internationally.
The LaVida adult macaws had enough of this encroachment to their primary residential sinkhole sanctuary and decided to pick apart their cavity nest in the tree and fly to Tampico with the entire flock of macaws. An adult middle-aged macaw couple with 2 male offspring at a critical time in their development and about to fly off as adult twenty-somethings into the wide wild world in which they can fly where the sky’s the limit and to find their life mates and nesting partners as he had found with Chichen. Flying solo as a flock leader is a very big step for a young macaw who hasn’t ever lived far away from its parents’ cavity nest and never flew without the flock with whom it always followed. A macaw cannot attract another macaw in the middle of the flock and at this time in Cayo’s and Carmen’s lives, it was time to determine to which macaw they would mate for life. As sons of the flock leader, all the available female macaws were available to the brothers before any other single male macaws. This is the pecking order. The lie put Cayo second in his selection. Carmen was going to lead the flock to Belize and select his mate at the same time. There always is another SCARLET ADVENTURE with the LaVida family flock of scarlet macaws.
Tampico was the land of plentiful seeds and fruits, and presented itself as a retirement quality location for scarlet macaws. Cayo’s and Carmen’s parents were mid-life at 40 years of age and began to think about their next 40 years together. They were tired of the closeness of their sons and of the lies they had to live for almost 20 years. Chichen had no family flock when she met Itza – her entire flock was killed in the hurricane that brought her to the banyan tree on Whitehead Street in Key West 20 years ago. Itza was the first macaw Chichen had seen alive in several days while flying against the spiraling Category 3 hurricane winds that crushed the rest of her flock into the water below her traumatic and zig-zagged flight pattern, remaining south of the Tropic of Cancer and not getting tossed toward the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, USA where birds of Mexico aren’t wanted or allowed to perch or nest.
Tampico was a beachfront resort in eastern Mexico with white sandy beaches and a flat shoreline. Further inland were cattle farmers and beautiful colonial-era buildings in a downtown core. Tampico was a special place in eastern Mexico and had the perfect tropical weather for macaws with rainfall common between May and September. It also did not have the street life that came with the nightlife in Playa Del Carmen that was coming north from La Ruana and seemed the right place in which to entertain the inevitable final 40 years of life. This finally meant 40 years alone together with Itza and no one else – no flock to manage; no offspring to protect; no humans to observe and avoid – just Chichen and Itza. As I said, bird names are important to birds. When they now would migrate, they could fly at the rear, at a leisurely pace instead of having to set both the pace and direction for the entire flock. Itza would be immediate past flock leader and could fly whatever position he chose. This is the only perk as a leader of the flock in retirement irrespective of your skill or performance as a flock leader.
As we know, Carmen was a brilliant scarlet red macaw while Cayo was a green and red feathered mixture that was late to grow down and was a whipped cream version of both of his parents’ feathered color patterns whether he had his wings down or expanded. In fact, Cayo really did not look similar to any other macaw in his flock. This, too, was something that Cayo always considered in his birdbrain. For some reason, and unlike other birdbrains, Cayo could maintain multiple thoughts at the same time. This was Cayo’s little secret – no other macaw knew he could think about more than one thought at the same time. Once, when he thought he was alone in the banyan tree in Key West when he was still a fledgling, Cayo turned his head toward Bahama Village because he heard a pleasing sound that caught his attention and he thought he saw his mom watching him from another tree on Whitehead Street, protecting him as if she knew he had no idea what was occurring below the banyan tree on the sidewalk and street that may or may not be harmful to him as a potential predator and it was illegal for a bird of Mexico to nest in the USA, and had been lost in his thoughts, doing what humans would call day-dreaming. Cayo was day-dreaming; a macaw that day-dreamed since he was a 30-days fledgling. Chichen always knew that Cayo was different than other macaws but she, too, is a birdbrain and didn’t know what the difference was – just that he was different so she would stay across the street from the banyan tree to insure his safety while he did whatever it was he was doing that no other macaw ever did, relative to all the macaws who ever crossed her flight path and whom she had observed throughout her lifetime. After all, she was twenty-something when her eggs hatched.
All things considered, neither Cayo or Carmen looked like either of their parents. Everyone in the LaVida flock knew Cayo was born in Key West and not from eastern Mexico, and that his name means Cay, an island separated from the mainland, and that was exactly how he felt as he approached the start of the next 20 years in an 80-year macaw lifespan, This was his first adult year as a free bird and Cyao was still pretending to be Carmen’s younger brother. Meanwhile, Carmen was preparing to lead the flock to Belize. Instead of being Itza’s wing bird, Carmen was the lead bird, front point of the flock formation, and the entire flock would follow wherever he flew. He needed a right wing bird and a left wing bird to help him to lead this flight path for his first time. Carmen made a loud and peculiar sound from the top of his parent’s cavity nesting tree in Tampico by the beachfront to make the announcement, “My name is Carmen LaVida and I now am the leader of the flock.” Of course, to the human ear or even a German Shepherd’s ear, it was a symphony as well as cacophony of strange shrills, chirps, throaty tones and multiple whistles in several different octaves all coming from one sound source. Every scarlet macaw that heard that announcement immediately stopped whatever it was they may have been doing and flew immediately to the beachfront area in front of Itza’s and Chichen’s cavity nesting tree and waited for the next announcement – how to form, when to form and then off to Belize for the winter. Carmen had planned to be the leader of the flock for the past five years and had a design to hug the coastline of eastern Mexico during the day with his two friends, Coco Merida and Veracruz Sammy as his left and right wing birds, respectively. Coco Merida, Veracruz Sammy and Carmen LaVida were like the three caballeros their entire lifetimes -that is, ever since Carmen and his older brother first came out to the public world of scarlet macaws in Playa Del Carmen as the two son birds of Itza and Chichen LaVida.
He had a problem, however, that he had to discuss with his two friends before he could lead the flock – he had mentally prepared for a flight from Playa Del Carmen to Belmopan, Belize. The flight path from Tampico was longer and more challenging than the simple hug-the-coastline flight path from Playa. Much more challenging and he had to put his trust and faith in Coco and Sammy – this did not feel as if it would be his finest hour but nonetheless, Carmen gathered his wings close to his chest and looked up into the vast blue sky and shrilled the loudest single tone that a macaw had heard in quite some time. Only two macaws had to stop everything and return to the sound source when they all heard that high octave shrill – Coco Merida and Veracruz Sammy, his right and left wing birds.
In Chapter 2, Carmen LaVida, son bird of Itza and Chichen LaVida and younger hatchling to Cayo LaVida, pretending to be the second-hatched son bird of the previous leader of the flock is the new leader of the flock and about to begin another chapter in THE SCARLET ADVENTURES.
This particular chapter may prove to be the ultimate scarlet adventure of his male macaw lifetime to date. As Chapter 1 ended, Carmen had made a very high-pitched shrill sound to command two of his friends to stop whatever they were doing and fly to the sound source that they just heard. Winter migration was starting and Carmen LaVida was the current leader of the flock of the LaVida family flock of scarlet macaws. It was his first time as flock leader and his first time to fly from Tampico to Belmopan and Belize, since they had moved from Playa Del Carmen after the last northern migration and now it was time for the next winter migration. None of the macaws in the LaVida family flock had ever flown from Tampico to Belize since Itza was leader of the flock. Since Itza was the flock’s finest flyer and the fastest scarlet macaw that any other flock of macaws ever observed, one can assume that at some point between the time he was a young fledgling until the time that he gathered his flock to relocate from Playa Del Carmen to Tampico, which is north and west of Playa and only 6 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, that of the entire country of Mexico, that Itza selected Tampico should indicate that he had prior experience or prior knowledge of the city, yes? Why else would the author include that data in THE SCARLET ADVENTURES?
Tampico is a city and port in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico; located on the north bank of the Pánuco River. The city is located in the southeastern part of the state, directly north of the state of Veracruz. Tampico is the fifth-largest city in Tamaulipas with a population of 297,284. The Metropolitan area surrounding Tampico has 859,419 inhabitants. Economic development during the 1920s made the city a pioneer in the aviation and soda industries. The city was a major exporter of silver, copper and lumber, together with wool, hemp and other agricultural products. Containerized cargo, however, was mainly handled by the neighboring ocean port of Altamira.
In the early 20th. Century during the period of Mexico’s first oil boom, the city was the “chief oil-exporting port of the Americas” and the second in the world, yielding profits that were invested in the city’s “grandiose architecture,” often compared to that of Venice and New Orleans. The first oil well in Mexico was drilled here in 1901 at Ébano. In 1923, the major oil field dried up, leading to an exodus of jobs and investment. Also in 1923, the ground-walking human Rockefeller family flock leader made a life-long agreement with a different type of mate, an economic mate, the king of the entire flock of humans in Saudi Arabia, and they jointly began to drill for oil in the Middle East. This was another aspect that macaws never understood about the ground-walking human species – they found same-gender and opposite-gender business mates and life partners that rarely did anything beneficial for the entire human flock but when they did, the entire human population who held a certain level of awareness would celebrate this beneficial symbiotic life partnership that helped the entire membership of the species. Macaws may be birdbrains but when they thought that one thought they held about the ground-walking humans and all the observed quirks and strange activities they had seen through a birds-eye view of the ground-walking human species, they all had the same, simple, one-word question, “Why?”
Humans certainly seemed to enjoy each other’s company when they gathered together. They always seemed to create a reason to gather together to share one thing or the other, but never figured out how to gather together always for the mutual benefit and protection of all the members of the same ground-walking flock of living human species members. Again, since macaws always gathered together because even a birdbrain knows there is safety in numbers, the same, simple question always returned to their birdbrains as they observed the ground-walking humans. “Why?” Cayo was different than the other members of the LaVida family flock of scarlet macaws. When he thought about the humans below him, he always asked the question, “Why not?” and then he would day-dream about all the possible answers to the “Why not this or why not that or why not try all of the possible solutions?”
Every flock member knew that Cayo was different than the other macaws but his mother knew a little bit more about this than any other macaw since she spent most of her non-nesting time in Key West watching him from across the street in the banyan tree in which they were nesting. To the LaVida family flock members, Cayo now was the leader of the flock’s younger brother. It was good for Carmen to pretend to be the first-hatched son bird of Chichen and Itza LaVida. Being the pretend second in line for the flock’s pecking order gave Cayo the time to day-dream with his baby macaw memories about Key West, how he fledged from the nest in the banyan tree and then had to fly across the ocean and gulf waters toward Havana and then west below the Tropic of Cancer to Playa Del Carmen. All that flying occurred when Cayo and Carmen were 130 days free from their eggs which means to a macaw 130 days following the date of hatch (DOH). Not every macaw is a leader. Only one macaw of any flock can be the leader at any one time, and macaws do not consider aging in their birdbrains the way that humans celebrate birth days. Because most macaws are followers, they consider the lifespan of a family flock member as the number of days, months and years that follow each one’s DOH. Everything in a macaw’s life happens after the date of hatch. A macaw is not a macaw until it has hatched. Before that, it is an egg.
Likewise, A macaw never whistles “Happy Birthday to You” as a macaw song to another macaw on the 365th. day after the DOH. They do shrill and make throaty sounds that represent the length of time from date of hatch but they only keep track of certain members of the flock – they are not intelligent enough to remember every flock member’s DOH. The only concern the flock members have is the DOH of the leader of the flock’s offspring to follow the pecking order for who would be next in line if anything happened to the existing leader of the flock. On the 365th. day after Carmen was hatched, the entire flock shrilled and made throaty sounds to make that date known to all the members of the LaVida family flock. The flock has never again had to listen to that sound and the next time that sound will be created will be on the 365th. day after Carmen’s first-hatched son bird was hatched in the first place. These are the patterns of life for a scarlet macaw of Mexico.
Because they are birdbrains, the flock never considered anything more about Cayo’s name or where he was hatched since he first was introduced to the flock as their second son bird almost 18 years earlier as an emergency birth in Key West that had been a brief lay-over to lay the single egg and carefully wrap the egg once it had been laid in the nest, and place it in a makeshift tote bag to carry the egg safely on the Gulfstream winds to Nueva Gerona, a small island near the southwest coastline of Cuba in an almost straight line south across the lush green island from Havana and almost due east from Cancun. The flock accepted the reason for naming Chichen’s offspring Cayo, since his hatch appeared to be a miracle on Cayo Hueso (Key/Cay West( and that would be enough information for any macaw brain to remember about any one member of the flock that was not the first-hatched son bird of the leader. They all only had to remember that Carmen was the first-hatched bird son and this they did remember. Chichen LaVida, mother bird of Cayo and Carmen, banked on this fact about a family flock of scarlet macaws – they could think collectively only about one thought – who the leader of the flock was.
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Thank you for reading my mind.
Jeff Pergament, Creative Director & Executive Producer, THE SCARLET ADVENTURES.
©2018 by VISUAL PHENOMENA; all rights reserved domestically and internationally.
Chapter 2: THE SCARLET ADVENTURES: FROM TAMPICO TO BELMOPAN IS A CHALLENGING AND LENGTHY FLIGHT PATH.
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