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Ellison Cooper, today's guest author, has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in locations all over the globe. Ellison has worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC, and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. She now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. Ellison's debut novel is Caged.
Welcome to the book club, Ellison...
While working on an archaeological project in grad school, I spent nine wonderful years living in the jungles of Belize. For many of those years, I slept in a tent way out on a 350,000-acre nature preserve. Yes, I encountered a few jaguars in the wild. Turns out that they make a deep chuff chuff sound when they'd like you to back up. I killed poisonous snakes with my machete--aggressive pit vipers called the "two-step-snake" by the locals because, once bitten, you would take two more steps and then die. I even desperately climbed trees to avoid roving packs of territorial peccarys, grumpy little boars with sharp tusks.
But, by far the most fearsome animal I encountered in the jungle was an attack turkey.
This was not some gobbling American turkey, this was an Ocellated Turkey, a beautiful iridescent rainbow-colored terror machine! Picture two inch razor-sharp spurs flying toward you in front of a twenty pound whirlwind off squawking feathers. I've been told that these turkeys aren't always aggressive, but one Ocellated Turkey decided that our jungle camp was in his territory, and he terrorized us for months.
Our camp was set off of an old gravel road used by loggers to haul out mahogany logs. Every morning after breakfast we would head to our work trucks parked along the road. From there we would drive out to our dig sites where we were mapping and excavating ancient Maya ruins.
But the trucks were clearly a threat to "Mr. Tom." In order to get to our trucks, we had to make a mad dash along a narrow trail through the jungle. And Mr. Tom would be lying in wait, roosting somewhere above us in the dense foliage. We would hurry along the path, hoping to make it before he leaped out at us. Once he went on the attack, we would scatter, screaming, making a desperate run for the trucks. At the trucks, we would peal away. Sometimes he would chase us along the road for half a mile!
I wonder if he loved the feeling of running off those big mechanical monsters. And who knows, maybe he (or she) had young near by. After all, we were the invaders there. I still fondly think of that turkey every Thanksgiving...
Thanks for reading my Belize story! I love hearing from readers any time. You can find me at ellisoncooper.com
-- Ellison Cooper
Welcome Ellison to the book club, ellisoncooper.com
** AUTHORBUZZ **
DISORDERLY CONDUCT (Mystery) by Mary Feliz
Fans of Louise Penny and her Three Pines residents will feel at home with my whip-smart, quirky, ethical characters who value the strength of their community ties and who treat dogs like part of the family.
Go to: AUTHORBUZZ click on DISORDERLY CONDUCT to read more and to email author Mary Feliz, you'll get a reply.
* This month's Penguin Classics book is AMIABLE WITH BIG TEETH, by Claude McKay. I have a Penguin totebag to share with a lucky reader. Start reading this month's Penguin Classics book by clicking this link, and enter-to-win for your chance to win the adorable totebag.