Catching the stare of a flamingo is slightly unsettling. The bird’s unblinking, reptilian eyes contain beady black pupils within a bright yellow iris, and the creature can be both fascinating and unnerving to look at.
The flamingo pond is one of several unique features within Parque Bicentenario, located along Río Mapocho within Santiago’s communa of Vitacura. Expansive, well-manicured grounds provide a sense of design within the park. Sleek ponds complement dark-green lawns and an intersecting network of lightly-colored sand paths suitable for running.
Visitors utilize Parque Bicentenario in different ways; some lounge under umbrellas in adirondack chairs, enjoying the view of the Andes, while others bring children to play on metallic and multi-colored jungle gyms. There is also a large oval fit for recreational sports, events, and concerts.
You will find the colony of flamingos towards the back of the park, feeding through hooked beaks, balanced on one reedlike leg with the other bent forward at an awkward angle. Near the flamingo pond lies an easily-missed underground sanctuary. The living-room sized space is circular with perimeter seating and an empty middle. The room is cool and quiet with a small statue of the Virgin on one end, lit through a small aperture in the simple concrete dome above.
An elevated promenade runs along the southern border of the park towards Mestizo, a chic and open-air restaurant found on the east end of Parque Bicentenario. Stone pillars taller than men support the angular structure of glass, slate, and lacquered wood. It is common to find a sharp crowd relaxing in the afternoon on reclined furniture with coffee or chirimoya juice.
There is activity in the park during the day and evening, when it is possible to get beautiful photographs of Santiago’s skyscrapers at sunset.
Completed in 2011, Parque Bicentenario commemorates Chile’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810. It is is accessible by bus or on foot from Metro Tobalaba.
By Michael Sun