I dedicate this post to Wiktoria, whom I keep overcharging with birds photos and make l learn more about the South America’s fauna.
It was around the middle of the day when I came back from Laguna de Cuicocha. That morning I’d left my cloths at a laundry and they were supposed to wait for me at five p.m. so I still had some time. I didn’t want to roam through the town nor to sit in some pub. A quick glance on the map. What was in vicinity? Mirador el Lechere and a condor park. The second option didn’t seem to interesting for me but it’s nearby and i was supposed to visit and see things, so well… I went down to the reception desk hoping to see Cameron, an Australian whom I’d met few hours before. He arrived a moment later. I told him my plan, underlining the meaning of el Lechere tree to the local community. It was enough to convince Cameron, interested in spiritualism. We went out on the street and waved for a taxi, planning to get back on foot.
Mirador means ‘a viewpoint’ in Spanish. In fact, the panorama was amazing. At the bottom of the hill lay the lake San Pablo with the tremendous volcano Imbabura on the other side. To the West delineated the silhouette of Cotacachi, to the South the mountain Fuya Fuya. Speaking about el Lechere tree… I’d expected the sacred tree of natives to be slightly bigger. And it’d been on the photo in the tourist brochure. I took few photos. I don’t know what’s wrong about that tree, but it looks much bigger on them than in the reality.
On our way to Parque Condor we walked through a real countryside. The farmers getting back home from the fields, pasturing pigs, scarecrows. On a one of the side roads on a huge piece of canvas a wrinkled old woman knelt and winnowed some grain. I tried to took her a photo, but she raised her head. She didn’t like something about the photos. I wasn’t sure if she didn’t want me to pay for taking them. With mine and Cameron’s poor Spanish we weren’t able to reach a conclusion, so we just left.
In general, the indigenous people don’t like being photographed. I took pictures of few people working in the fields and each time when they realised it, I heard ‘No foto!’.
In the entrance of the park a woman greeted us. She told us to pay 4$ each (all the income goes to financing the park and rescuing condors) and advised us to go quickly to the arena, where the last bird show that day was held. In the stone amphitheatre only one couple of spectators was present. In the middle stood a falconer and presented an owl. I don’t have a good memory to Spanish bird species names. Next came an eagle, another eagle then and a small bird in the end. We were able to take photos with the last one, that I, of course, did.
Cameron asked for a condor. In Ecuador they’re protected, there are only few of them left and all condor shows are prohibited. Two enormous birds were sitting in the aviary. They tried to fly a bit, but with their three-meters wing width they needed more space. A sad view.
Parque Condor is a charity initiative. They rescue birds, take care of them and show them to people to raise the funds on healing and breeding. Eventually they set them free. Although there is something humiliating in the fact of having the chained eagles and caged condors. But, I admit, the visit was memorable.