Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay...cantaba

My father's lawn is being visited daily by a rare black pheasant. There are usually one or more cute little female pheasants nibbling around at the time, over which he affects to watch from a distance.

Another rara avis lives a few blocks away from us in Antigua − a parrot that can bark like a dog! It may not be quite as startling as the Alsatians or St Bernard's that typically lurk in vocal readiness just behind the iron garage doors, but it definitely sounds canine. And according to the housekeeper in the next-door property, its owner has also taught it to croon that famous old ranchera Cucurrucucu Paloma! I didn't get to experience this phenomenon live and unplugged, but it can't have been any worse than the recent rather constipated version by Caetano Veloso.

Otherwise, it's an extremely quiet neighbourhood. Most of the homes are occupied solely by their guardians and receive but occasional visits from their absentee owners. Almost every passing tradesman bears his own audio signpost though: a signature noise to alert anyone shaded away inside these private strongholds that a buying opportunity is moving slowly along the road outside. It's fun to listen out for them. My personal favourite is that of the knife-sharpener; clearly fit to purpose.

'Jardines' is bordered to the west by a finca (Pavón) with sizeable coffee plantations shaded by Gravilea trees, some of which have been left inside the residential area to do a similar job for patches of what currently passes for common land.

Arzú's is the largest house in the area, not that you can catch even a glimpse of it through its thick protective armour of plaster and vine-covered walls and magnificent, towering ficus. He keeps a private menagerie in the grounds − you can sometimes hear the chatter of monkeys and there are wild rumours about a giraffe!

Some pics from around 'Jardines de Antigua'.

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