El condor pasa.

The Andean condor is said to be the largest/heaviest flying bird on earth.  We took a sometimes bumpy mini-bus ride up to Colca Canyon in the hope of seeing them as they rode the thermals up and out of the canyon.  The locals and guides know almost exactly what time they take flight on a day-to-day basis.  We followed our guide’s plan and left the lodge early in order to take in yet another once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We weren’t disappointed.  As if on cue, those magnificent raptors accommodated us tourists much as the local Andean people have learned to do.  The birds soared.  The people put on their magnificently hued traditional costumes.  The people don their costumes to earn a few Peruvian soles.  We tourists happily provided the required tips for their trouble.  The condors soar because that’s what they do.  No tips required.

Almost every tourist on the mountain had a camera hoping to get just one decent photo of one huge soaring bird.  The truth is it would take a better camera than mine and a photographer much more patient than I to get a good shot.  The locals have this knowledge in advance so they are at the ready with magnificent photos taken by some professional from who knows where and they sell them to people like me.  I don’t mind telling you I was glad for the opportunity to buy them.  I would love to give credit to the photographer(s) but no such information came with the pictures.  I tell you this in order to tell you that the shot above and the two below are pictures I took of photographs I purchased on the mountain top.

We didn’t see any condors up this high.  The cross on the right of this photo is up on the rim of the canyon where we people were.

The shot below is very much like what I was seeing and might have been able to snap if I were a real photographer.  The fact that I didn’t shoot either of them doesn’t bother me.  I’m grateful that there are talented people who are able to capture them for the rest of us.  Thank you, whoever you are!

I did take the photo at the bottom of the page.  It’s a little like the “Where’s Waldo?” books some of the older grandchildren used to beg for when I took them to the book store.  You may have to look hard to find the condor, but he’s there.  Happy hunting!

Do you remember back in the early 70s when Simon and Garfunkel had a hit song called “El Condor Pasa”?  I loved the song at the time.  Still do for that matter.  I did a little research and found several conflicting stories about Paul Simon’s acquisition of the song.  I have no idea what the truth of the matter is so I won’t comment except to say that I have no doubt about Simon’s integrity.

Daniel Alomia Robles wrote “El Condor Pasa” as a part of a zarzuela, a Spanish operetta.  Simon and Garfunkel made it famous and now it’s the best known song in all of Peru.  We heard it everywhere we went.  If you would like, listen to it here.  I chose this version because 1) it’s beautiful, and 2) this one gives an incredible slide show of Peru, mostly places I saw while I was there.  Wonderful!

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