Photo: Volcano Tenorio, Costa Rica

My niece, Allie Leblanc, snapped this photo from the window of our rented SUV as we drove along a dirt road to the Tenorio Volcano National Park in northern Costa Rica.

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Three vultures, scared out of the roadway by our approach, settled on the fence posts as we drove by. Another is on the ground in front.

The original picture had my hand and my camera in it as I tried and failed, from the other side of the rear passenger seat, to get my own shot. Allie graciously let me use hers, and I cropped my intrusion out.

Vultures are a common sight in rural Costa Rica, but we rarely got so close to them. We were on our way to the beautiful Volcano Tenorio National Park and the Rio Celeste when we saw them.

The word for vulture or buzzard in Spanish is zopilote (soh-pee-LOH-tay). I’ll never forget it, as I do most Spanish words, because of the name of a character in “The Milagro Beanfield War” by John Nichols. (I highly recommend the book; the movie, less so.)

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