I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been in Costa Rica a few years ago for 9 days on a citizen scientist expedition to support the study of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in its wintering grounds. On that trip I met Ernesto Carman, Jr., our in-country birding guide (a dual American & Costa Rican citizen) and his fiancée, Elaida Villanueva Mayorga, also a birding expert. The two have since married and kept our expedition group up to date on their continuing birding success.
A couple of months ago, however, we received word from our study expedition leader, naturalist Bill Hilton, Jr., that Ela had undergone cranial surgery to remove a brain tumor. Now she faces chemo and radiation therapy. Ela is a beautiful young woman and Ernesto an obviously devoted mate. At Bill’s request, alumni of many of his Operation Ruby Throat field study expeditions sent checks for a special fund he set up to help defray some of the costs of medical care and replace some of the income lost from their principal occupation, leading exotic birding tours, while Ela is in therapy and recovering.
Today I received an email from Bill letting the Operation Ruby Throat alumni contributors know that he had personally delivered a check to Ernesto and Ela and extend their heart-felt thanks and intentions to contact us individually.
It’s funny how we never know where our next opportunity to help someone will come from. That we cannot imagine where we will next cross the path of a perfect stranger with whom we will form a strong bond. In this case, the opportunity to meet many wonderful fellow expedition travelers and form continuing relationships started with my first purchase of a bird feeder with money given to me as a special gift. The good that goes around does get paid back – or paid forward – however you want to think about it.
Today’s news from Costa Rica hit close to the heart.