Friday, March 22, 2013

Lightning Bugs!

Last weekend I went with Diana's mom up to the farm in Chiquinquira for a few days. Since Diana's over in Germany and Spain for a while taking care of some work stuff, it was a great opportunity for the two of us to get to know each other better (and especially not on a crowded bus during some trip to a doctor's appointment). We had a lot of chances to talk and I learned a lot about her and her history. It was fun!

During the days, there's lots to do around the farm but the highlight's always when everyone stops what they're doing and we go down to milk the cows. After my dad's visit, he mentioned to me one day how going to milk the cows was like something out of the 1800's since it involves a donkey pulling a cart and hand-milking. In fact, I know he's right because Diana's family has been doing this same basic process in the same place for well over 100 years.

After the sun sets and we've eaten dinner, there's not a lot to do. Diana's parents usually end up watching one of the two channels that they can get on the old television and Diana and I will read or just hang out. One of the things that I enjoy is looking at the stars because there's so little light pollution. Every time I look up, I'm amazed at how clearly I can see the milky way, stars, and even some planets. One night, after Diana's mom had gone to bed, I put on a warm jacket and went out to check out the stars. What I saw once I was outside surprised me and made me flash back to summers when I was growing up in Philadelphia.

Lightning bugs! Fireflies! What ever you call them - there were tons! I hadn't seen lightning bugs since I was a kid and had no idea that they were in other parts of the world. I spent the next probably 30 minutes chasing them around the farm trying to catch some. I can remember that we used to get a jar and fill it with our bounty but, this time, I'da been happy catching even just one! I'm not sure if it's because I'm old and can't see but it was waaaay harder to catch them at the farm. I'd like to think that it was because there is (almost) no ambient light making it very hard to see them while their lights were off. Yeah, that would be greaaaat!

After feeling embarrassed at my lack of lightning-bug-hunting skills, I went and grabbed my camera to take some photos. It would have to be easier than catching them, right? After all, there were hundreds blinking on and off. Well, let's just say that I wasn't much better taking photos of lightning bugs than I was at catching them. This photo shows three greenish glowing specs towards the left-side (and this was the best shot I got out of probably 200...):

Later, looking over the photos, it reminded me a lot of trying to take pictures of the river dolphins in Puerto Inirida, Colombia, a couple of years ago. In that case, instead of lots of photos of almost nothing but black, the photos were almost nothing but water. Fortunately, digital photos cost nothing to take and nothing to develop!

It wasn't until I sat down to write this story that I learned lighting bugs are a type of beetle and are found pretty much everywhere in the world where it's warm, humid, and there's water around. The light is their version of a Mercedes or a McMansion; it's used by the males to help them pick up chicks. Having lived in California, Mexico, Spain, Japan, and Germany and not having seen them in any of those places, I just kinda' figured that they were an east-coast United States thing. Wrong! Yep, still learning something new every day!

A not-so-clear photo showing a lighting bug up close:

What a blast! I couldn't believe that there were lightning bugs in Colombia! This country has everything (except a good marketing department, of course)! The next morning, I couldn't wait to tell Diana's mom all about it. She listened patiently like she always does but, at the same time, kinda' had that "are-you-crazy" look on her face. I totally understand but how could I resist being right back to when I was a kid running around the neighborhood on warm summer nights collecting bugs?


  1. Tambien está genial esta historia. El tiempo q has pasado con mi madre es muy valioso, en cierta forma siento celos porque le has ocupado el puesto a mi esposo, el tambien la amaba mucho, la respetaba y la admiraba terriblemente. Pídele que te cuente la noche de rumba que tuvieron. Te felicito!!! tu lograste atrapar una luciernaga...nosotros nunca logramos atrapar una!!! Es muy grato saber que disfrutas de nuestro pais. Gracias por elegirnos. Besos PP

    1. Yo no se que puedo decir! Muchas gracias por tus palabras bonitas. Me alegre a tener este tiempo con la familia y especialamente con tus padres. Gracias!


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