Monday, February 25, 2013

Bats, boas and iPhones


Long time readers will have been with me before on a visit to the bat caves, two Tom Sawyer-ish caverns in the bush on the unpopulated backside of the island with colonies of bats. I was there yesterday with my daughter, son-in-law, and their two girls, eleven and thirteen. Apparently, no one had been there since my last visit several years ago; the trail I cut and marked then was overgrown and hard to follow.

(You might ask how I came to know about these caves. Good question. Sixteen years ago, a friend who was a friend of a batologist (OK, chiroptologist) shared her secret knowledge.)

Anyway, down on one's hands and knees through the small entrance. Inside, the caves open up into substantial, many-chambered grottos. My daughter and two granddaughters led the way.

Suddenly, a shriek of fright. Three shrieks, actually. Curled on the cave floor at their feet -– a Bahamian boa, six feet long and as thick as a child's arm, its black and silvery skin shining in the gleam of their flashlights.

The girls' startled surprise quickly subsided. The boa was as startled as they. It began looking for a place to hide as my granddaughters whipped out their iPhones to take pictures. The boa had no place to go except to stick its head into crevices among loose rocks, which gave the girls a chance to touch the snake.

The bats were an anti-climax after the boa.

I've encountered boas before. What was most exotic for me was the girls and their new iPhones, which seemed to be prosthetic extensions of their senses. When they got back to the house, and WiFi-ed, they uploaded pics of the boa to Instagram. Within minutes, they had dozens of "likes." Within the hour, hundreds. With comments. From her phone, Kate emailed me the pic you see above (click to enlarge).

The iPhone was not only an extension of their senses, it was an extension of their social lives, connecting this small island to their coterie of friends and who knows else. All a bit of a wonder for grandpa, who lives with bats and boas but knows nothing about Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Tumbir.