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Remembering Rosa: March 2012 – Sept 2,  2016

Rosa came into this world weighing maybe 20 grams, all pink with unruly yellowish down. I, nor any other human, knew her then. I also never met her parents, but I imagine they loved her, and cared for her. They stroked her body with their beaks, pulling at the sheath of her new feathers so they could sprout rainbow and rise over the earth. But then one day men came to her home, broke into it, and pulled Rosa screaming from the warm comfort of the place where she was safe, loved. At least that is one version of her early life. Another telling is that the men hacked into her pine tree, and felled it to get to Rosa on the ground. However she became a prisoner of human desire, she ended up with broken legs and wings. Her parents swooped, calling until they were hoarse, but to no avail. They would never see Rosa again.

Rosa now entered into a dark time. Men bound her in a burlap sack so she wouldn’t move and could be easily moved from the fields to the nearby town. She was given little water, and heard no longer the sounds and words of comfort that she had known before. No attention was given to her brokenness, even though she cried in pain as she was moved clandestinely from house to house. New men with a different vision for how to meet desire, found her in squalor, fed only corn mush. Her legs were swollen, scabbed over from where the bones had once protruded (see photo above). Tomas Manzanares, he himself with deep scars and bone wounding from those that would take from both indigenous and parrot alike, took care of Rosa, nursing her to some semblance of health, at least enough to grow out her feathers, though dull and damaged with bars of stress that told the story of how her life was full of such loss and sorrow. I saw her pictures from afar and wondered if she would ever fly, let alone live.

Anayda caring for Rosa

Live she did, finding her way to Anayda. Anayda and her spouse Santiago, and other villagers, had been taking in rescued scarlet macaws and yellow-naped parrots for the past 2.5 years in the village of Mabita in La Moskitia, Honduras. Rosa joined this liberated flock, though she had to be hand carried from branch to feeding platform to porch. I met her when she was nearly 18 months old, a sad and pain-ridden being. She cried constantly, her lungs were congested, she was desperately thin, her ears leaked fluid from a mite infestation, and her legs were bowed out – one side from a break, the other, dislocated at the hip. She could not extend her wings either, both with internal tissues scarred and joints contracted, evidence of the early fractures that had not been tended to or allowed a chance to heal. I thought she would die, and said so to Anayda. “Without you, Rosa will not live.” Anayda heard that as a charge and did not let Rosa die. She continued the treatments I began, and never let Rosa out of her sight. When she went to Nicaragua to tend fields, Rosa rode in her shirt, both of them behind Santiago on a motorcycle.

Rosa in September 2013

I next saw Rosa when she was two, and she was a fine thing. Still fearfully thin, she had regained her health, her feathers had grown in shiny and shockingly red, the disease gone and replaced with some feistiness. By three she was attempting short flights, abrupt in their landing but able to get her closer to her companion Anayda, and the other macaws. Macaws, being macaws, would often pick on her, but some were her friends, such as Lempira who preened her feathers and kept her company at night. Then Lempira healed enough to fly, so he would go off with all the other macaws, leaving Rosa often alone in Casa Ara. That didn’t stop Rosa from engaging in the world, using her beak for balance and to walk, taking hobbling steps with her bowed legs and curled feet to get to food and to companionship.

Rosa had found a safe home in Mabita, Honduras - now two years old

I got to spend two months with her near her 4th birthday. I wondered about her future, all broken, so un-macaw-like with her diminished ability (earth please forgive me for such thoughts). I am a hobbler too, legs in declining function, so it is perhaps really myself whom I judge for being less than my species can be. I watched Rosa closely, and found a fierce friend, for she taught me that even the broken can yet shine and serve.