Finding a Quetzal in the Costa Rican Cloud Forest was just the beginning. Sometime after that moment Caleb found the bird that remains, to this day, one of his favorites. 

The nocturnal, endangered Kiwi bird. Flightless. Long-nosed. Native to New Zealand. 

I didn’t even know what a kiwi bird was until Caleb introduced me to it, through pictures and narratives explaining all he could learn. It wasn’t long before his entire fourth grade class – in the middle-of-the USA-Colorado – had become enchanted with the faraway kiwi.

And it wasn’t long before I knew I had a new mission…get Caleb to see one. Remember, he’s my muse, and meaningful trips are about the unique and the beautiful experiences I can create around what is loved and enthralling. This was perfect!  

We started with a trip to the San Diego zoo, where, strangely enough, they have an exhibit. Almost too easy. We have friends that live there, it’s a fairly quick flight from Denver and I’d never been to San Diego, so it would be a win on many fronts. So, off we went. 

Caleb was beside himself, excited about finally seeing a live version of his adored kiwi. We got to the zoo, went to buy our tickets, and I anxiously asked the ticket seller how to find the most important exhibit of all. 

And, the bottom fell out. 

Of all the animals at this renowned zoo to be “off-exhibit” on that specific day, why, oh why, did it have to be the kiwi bird?!  That’s right. No kiwi. I knew what would come. The tears. The heartbreak. Maybe even a full on tantrum. And they did. But I’ll give it to him…he bounced back and enjoyed the day. Made better (if not perfect) by a wonderful young woman who was creating watercolors of people’s names using images of animals. Kiwi bird, surprisingly (not), was not a choice. She, like me not so long before, had no idea what one even was. But we googled a picture and she made it happen, and did a beautiful job. A picture cherished to this day. 

We left San Diego with wonderful memories, a special watercolor…but no live kiwi experience. 

My work was not done. If I couldn’t find a kiwi bird that had come to the states, we would have to go to the source. New Zealand.