5/11/10: Cabanaconde, Peru
Here’s what happened this morning:
We had a delicious breakfast of eggs and fresh-baked bread at our hostel, then we boarded a bus to a condor lookout over ten kilometers outside the city. Zhou and I had met some Peruvian ladies on Lake Titicaca, and they had seen 14 condors – the biggest, most graceful, most majestic birds that you could ever imagine – from this lookout. 14 condors! We could only hope to see one. At first things were slow – it was still very cold outside as the sun had just peaked over the mountains. Then we saw one – a beautiful bird glided effortlessly over the world’s deepest canyon, spreading its wings so wide that their shadow seemed to span the entire chasm. It swooped overhead, it’s mighty talons nearly swiping Zhou’s winter hat, then ducked back out of sight. Not to fear though, another condor soon soared over the canyon, then another, then another. Pretty soon there were more elegant birds in the sky than there are varieties of Heinz. All together I counted 76 condors in the big parade. With a few cows and horses close at hand. Remember the guy who told us seeing a condor was the highlight of his life? Well multiply that times 76. It was truly an amazing morning.
Wait – Dad’s here? He’ll know the truth? I can’t exaggerate too much? Shoot. I better tell the real story. Here’s what actually happened this morning:
We had a delicious breakfast of eggs and fresh-baked bread at our hostel, then we boarded a bus to a condor lookout over ten kilometers outside the city. Zhou and I had met some Peruvian ladies on Lake Titicaca, and they had seen 14 condors, which are big birds. Zhou and I have seen a couple before. They’re nice. Along with hundreds of our tourists, we sat at the lookout for about two hours, and we actually did see 60 condors – but that’s by my Enron accounting. Every time a bird would disappear behind a rock and then reappear again – that was two different condors. There is a slight possibility that we actually only saw two condors the entire time, because we never saw more than two together. And the worst part was, they never got closer than what felt like a mile away – it was almost as if they had a restraining order from the tourists. One time I pointed out a condor flying in the distance, only to be corrected by Zhou, “ummm, that’s actually a piece of fuzz floating near your face.” (Stupid depth perception…) It was an ok morning. And that’s the truth.
However! During our scenic canyon-side walk back to Cabanaconde, we did see 16 more condors (for a total of 76 – I didn’t make that number up). And several times they actually flew pretty close. When you can see the individual feathers on the bird’s wingtip, condors are surprisingly fascinating creatures. I still would never go as far as to say seeing one is the highlight of my life (the poor guy who did sure gets made fun of on this blog a lot), but they are beautiful birds.
You know what else is beautiful? Colca canyon. Here, have a look.
Picture of the Day: Zhou sprouted a tail while pretending to be food to encourage the condors to get closer.