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From the balcony of a Best Western, Cairns, Australia

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Pallavi is feeling a bit under the weather. While she catches a nap I'm sitting on a third-floor balcony writing a lengthy catch-up post about Lake Titicaca. The sun set about an hour ago, and the hotel lights are casting long shadows of palm trees over the pool and the courtyard patio below me.

A sudden shadow passes over my netbook monitor, so fast that I think for a moment that I misinterpreted a blink. The sound of wings makes me look up, but whatever bird passed by has flown over the roof, and I go back to writing. Then, only a moment later, the shadow passes by again.

So I stare out into the dark, looking for whatever nocturnal bird is hiding in the high reachs of the palms. Looking for feathers and an avian beak, I'm caught offguard when what drops from the trees, spreads cape-like wings and swoops into an ascent is a bat. A very, very big bat. A "Christopher Nolan, call your casting agent because this guy needs a role in your next movie" bat. About ten feet from my head it banks sharply upward, and I think I hear it thump on the roof above me.

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