Today was International Vulture Awareness Day, but no one at the Chilean National Zoo knew it. 

We walked about 2 km to the Parque Metropolitan which includes the zoo, a funicular, a giant statue of the Virgen Mary on the top of San Cristobal Hill, and a bunch of other stuff on the eastern slope we didn’t see (including a swimming pool that are parking lot guard really wanted us to check out).  

At the zoo, I watched an Andean condor juvenile practice flapping off his tall nest in the (single!) raptor enclosure. I also watched two red pandas nom on some bamboo and a brown bear and vicunas and guanacos and a crazy giant rabbit  with a squirrel tail that is native to Chile. I meant to write its crazy name down so I could look it up later.  

Most non-salespeople don’t speak English. My Spanish is rudimentary at best and I am having to learn more, fast. I tried information booths, cops, guards, concierges, waitstaff… nope. You know who speaks English? Nearby latinos on vacation from New York, Puerto Rico, etc.  They’ve been helpful. “She means ‘marble’.” Or, “apparently this drink is not to be missed.” Or, “¿Quiere llamado por ustedes?” That last one from a very nice young woman in the elevator who wondered what my “problema enorme” was after I was a bit histrionic on the way back from the latest concierge.

But, I’m trying.  

Those condors were way more popular than any other vulture I’ve ever seen. Not penguin-popular (eye roll), but kids were squealing about seeing them, and there was a small crowd.  

Categories: Adventure Stories