January 18, 2018
Deep within the tropics of Peru, mosquitoes circled like miniature vultures around the lone woman. Hunched forward, steady as a living statue street performer, her long, blond braid trailed down the slope of her back. Her right eye pressed against a spotting scope as if nothing else existed – only the scope, her eye, and the object in view. Hovering insects could not break her deep concentration. Nor could songs, squawks, and trills from tropical birds that under other circumstances would have piqued her interest. With self-discipline honed from years in the woods, she commanded every fiber of her body to hold steady, to wait, to be patient. Several minutes sloughed into history while the biologist continued her frozen stare.
Whoosh— a large shape plunged into the ironwood tree one hundred yards away. The biologist spun her finger on the spotting scope and brought into focus a creature that seemed more mythological than real. Obsidian black eyes, ghost-gray face, a crown of white feathers radiating skyward: a shaman’s mask. Even from a distance, the power of the animal was palpable; it locked her gaze and held it, almost against her will. The hair on her scalp raised and her pulse quickened – the primeval reaction to a predator. The creature was an adult harpy eagle, royal giant of the Amazon – the 3-foot tall raptor that impaled primates with dagger-sharp talons and ripped them open for lunch.
These opening lines of my unpublished novel, Life after Ceviche, lure you into the Amazon rainforest of Peru, where temperatures soar with the eagles and mysterious birds give birth to caterpillar-like offspring.
The Amazon rainforest also spawns human emotions that range from fear to awe. Human encounters become complicated when they are between a man and a woman who speak different languages and who view the rainforest from different cultures.
In my story, Michelle Greenwald, a seasoned biologist and university professor, travels to Peru on an international grant to study harpy eagles. Opportunities and conflicts emerge when she meets Julián, a native Peruvian who is building a traditional cabin for the eco-lodge where Michelle is staying.
As events unfold, Michelle is drawn deeper into the Amazon, and eventually, she must choose between honoring her twenty-five-year marriage or following her heart.
My next blog will reveal a few things about me. What motivated me to write a novel that takes place in the Amazon? Am I Michelle?