At Playa Esteron, one of the first things that I noticed were the pelicans in an enclosure. Cool birds, I thought. I had only ever seen pelicans in nature documentaries, swooping in to eat fish with their big pink pockets of a throat.
One day I woke up earlier than everyone else so I left the cabina and took a seat at a table with my journal. There was a light breeze. La Tortuga Verde resort was quiet, with few resort tables claimed. One of the staff members there, Cesar, brought me some tea.
One of the pelicans left his perch to walk towards the ocean. He stared out towards the water and began to flap his wings to fly, but he couldn’t fly because he was missing part of his wing.
Cesar was walking by and I asked him, “What’s the name of this bird?”
“His name is Alfred. “ he said. “Tom rescued him off of one of the islands in the gulf.”
The Tom that he was referring to is the owner of La Tortuga Verde, the resort that I was at; a fast talking man from New York City who had somehow ended up in El Salvador owning an eco resort.
Cesar and I stood silently for a bit and watched Alfred as he stood with the ocean in front of him, trying to get enough momentum to take off.
“He would’ve died if Tom didn’t bring him here.” he said.
“Does he do this every morning?” I asked.
“Not every morning, but sometimes.”
Later when I met to Tom, I asked him about Alfred. Tom said that normally they rescue birds that have twisted wings, rehabilitate them and then send them out back to the islands. But Alfred had one wing partly severed and he was bleeding badly so they brought him to the resort.
It’s been 5 weeks since I left El Salvador, but I have found myself thinking of Alfred the Pelican. About what it must feel like to fly, and then to not be able to fly. I think about what caused him to lose that wing, and why I stupidly didn’t ask.
I think about how Alfred will go to the beach some mornings, before all of the tourists wake up, to try to fly away, but he won’t be able to. I know that he will miss flying and it makes me sad to know that he is probably out there right now trying.
Follow up to the post on my Habitat for Humanity El Salvador build. I was stumped by this image in our mortar pictionary game. This was a Dragon, drawn by Mark B.