we are walking down from the volcano, just leaving a canopy of cocoa trees and moving into the full heat of the sun. there is animal movement and we stop to watch a bird explode from the trees, warbling and bustling and trailing a beautiful blue tail behind. we turn to each other and whisper quetzal
though we know they are green and this isn't it. but we are humbled and feel sanctity.
when i think of magpies, i think of ill-omen, drab death, vague danger. the guide points and tells us urraca, the word dangling from his tongue like a jewel, and then in pained english: magpie. we look back to the bird, magnificent, preening on a branch heavy with sweet green fruit. urraca, we repeat, awed. magpie.
this is how i learn that nicaragua does not conform herself to pallid gringo expectations. and when i later realized that i hadn't ever actually seen a magpie before then, i began to understand that perhaps those expectations have no justification for being, in the first place.