The taxi driver spoke rapid, enthusiastic, incomprehensible Spanish. Something about no taxis could go to the park, so we would take his truck instead. He backed the taxi to the curb half a block away and escorted us to a pickup truck. I had a momentary flash of uneasiness as I watched us leave the grid, possibly be kidnapped and never heard from again. Just momentary, though, as I climbed into the back seat. The driver, Juan, took the back roads to the park, passing through villages we hadn't seen yet, then climbing hills on rutted or cobblestone roads. Narrow roads. With drop-offs. Talking on his cellphone. However, we did get to our destination. I realized that taxis would have a hard time with going in the back way. Juan told us he would wait for us and there would be no extra charge. He said most people aren't in the park for more than 45 minutes.
The condor park is a labor of love. Simple, with good habitats for the rescued birds, clean. An English-speaking proprietor - I'm thinking South African from his accent - introduced us to the place, and then we walked through a small museum and then the various habitats. At 11:30 a.m. the proprietor held a demonstration with about eight birds, including one eagle in a free-flight demonstration. The bird disappeared for 15 minutes and then returned to the man's gloved hand. I could tell the man loved the birds. And they all returned to him. My only regret is that all the signs and explanations were only in Spanish.
Juan was snoozing in his pickup when we got back to the parking lot. Our drive home was partly on the Pan American Highway since he needed to stop for gas. There's a festival going on in Otavalo this weekend, so the traffic was heavy and the traffic light was out. I suspect that's why we went the back roads on the way to the park. We paid Juan $8 for the ride to the park, and $10 for the ride home because of the length of time he'd waited for us while we walked the park and viewed the demonstration.