Festival de Las Aves: A Migratory Bird Festival in Mexico
On the coast of Baja California in Mexico, you watch as a festival for the birds erupt alongside the valley of the volcanoes. Where the ocean crashes into rocky coasts, children sing alongside you, harmonizing in unison for the land and the animals while teenagers dance traditional cultural expressions for the migrating coastal birds. All harmonize together with nature at el Festival de las Aves (Festival of the Birds).
Entering Mexico from the US at Tecate
One way to enter from the United States to Mexico is at Tecate, where you are welcomed with warm smiles and friendly greetings: this was our experience as we traveled by our self-converted van for the first time exploring a different country. We just finished days of driving down the west coast of the United States, migrating south through California.
We watched as wildfires destroyed the Earth throughout the hills of CA, we experienced the winds in Yosemite with trees crashing down on all sides, and we saw the dust that was forced to grow rows upon rows of trees. We watched the land being used against her will; water pumped into places of drought; humans manipulating what is not theirs for what we want and need. We passed through all of this with the goal of arriving on the rocky coast of the Valley of the Volcanoes in La Chorera at the house of Don Alvaro.
Reset, Camp, and Hike Volcanoes
The plan was to stay a few days, to rest and enjoy the hiking that surrounded the volcanoes. We spent the next few days hiking among the volcanoes, walking the coast, observing the wildlife. Time was abundant to steep in the ocean-rich air and walk the lands that were going to be celebrated shortly. Without knowing, we had arrived at the location where an annual festival was about to take place, a festival that brought together local communities and travelers from abroad to express their gratitude for the birds that migrate along these coasts. We were told that on Sunday, tents would tower above tables that were going to be filled with local food, music, and dancing for an entire day.
So you find yourself looking at each other and decide immediately after hearing about this celebration that you would stay.
Extending the stay would end up being one of the best decisions that we had made on our journey thus far.
Let the Celebrations Begin
After being drained from seeing how people treat the land and animals throughout the States, it was much needed to see people assembling for the celebration of life. Sunday morning arrived, and you are greeted by coffee and breakfast, and of course, a morning hike to the volcano. Walking among the dunes, you start to see cars arriving in the distance. The feel of the black sand flecked with gold soften under your feet: a beach unlike any before. After hiking, the time came to return to the campsites, to set up a tent among the festivities, and to partake in the preparation for the festivities – excitement begins to fill the air.
The Festival Begins
As if it were blossoming from the surrounding nature itself, you watch as the festival blossomed to life. There were dances performed by local children wearing colorful attire that mirrored the richness of celebration that was unfolding in front of our very eyes. The happiness, the smiles, the life that erupted from the festival rippled through the tent and out into the surrounding environment. You revel in a richness that can only be experienced from seeing what nature has to offer and offering up gratitude in return. Here, that was in the mixed form of music, dance, and education.
Rescued Birds of Prey Released in Celebration of the Bird Migration Festival
Dispersed between dances and singing were demonstrations from a local bird rescue foundation from Ensanada where you watched the gentle care given to injured birds prior to their recovery and return to the wild. Among countless locals and global participants, you wait in anticipation as the team arrives with a host of rescued birds of prey, teaching the community the importance of their roles in the ecosystem. They explain to you how important it was to not set out poison for rats, to clean up the beaches of plastic, and to protect their natural world. Children and adults marvel at the birds alongside you, all of who are truly exquisite.
The festival began to wrap up in one of the most moving acts that you have ever seen. The bird rescue team brought out a box, a box that contained a hawk that had been injured. Now healed, the raptor was ready to reenter the natural habitat. You watch as the door opens, a second chance is offered: a new beginning. Very few times are any of us offered a redo at life, but here on the coast of La Chorera, this incredible bird was. With full force, the returned bird soared along the coast with unquestioned passion. The pull that you feel from experiences like today will linger long past the tents being disassembled and packing up to head home. The pull that you feel to be more aware of the world around us, to see and be aware of what you tend to see with your eyes closed, and to do what you know needs to be done.
Here on the coast, you are given a rare and breathtaking second chance to care for our world, one that can take flight if we give back what we take.
What Experience Changed Your Mind about How the World Works?
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