As you drive the Puerto Rican countryside, it's not uncommon to see a truck parked off the highway with a huge "Exotic Birds" sign, but the offering is almost zoo-like in variety. They boast chickens, ducks, rabbits, kittens, puppies, pigeons, ponies, land crabs of assorted colors, and even the big draw, exotic birds… but it's on the side of the road, so um, what gives?
I know I'm new here, but this is a little weird. The birds, rabbits, kittens and puppies I understand, but chickens and crabs? That's a little odd even for me, and I'm verily the young prince of odd.
And while we're at it, when did the roadside bird guy start offering $2 pony rides… and what the heck is a roadside bird guy anyway?
Chickens? Are you seriously selling chickens?
As it turns out, many of our neighbors have, yes, not kidding here, chickens. Not for eggs or meat, but as a traditional sort of pet. It's no tradition I've ever known, but apparently if you live in the dry scrublands to the south-by-southwest of Puerto Rico, your traditional pet of choice is a chicken.
And why not? They're handsome, clucky, and only wake you up before dawn with their cock-a-doodle-doing, and by "before dawn" I mean all night long… yes, that's a charming pet right there. In all fairness, the neighborhood dogs aren't on a much better schedule, what with all their nocturnal yapping.
The puppies are cute, as Dominic quickly discovered, they love to lick Cheeto fingers, but ducks are simply fowl. And land crabs can't make for much of a pet. If you've ever tried cuddling up to a snappy exoskeletal snuggly of this variety, you know all you're going to get for being Irish is pinched.
While it doesn't make for much of a zoo, it is worth popping in for a visit, even if you don't have young ones in tow. At the very least it's an exercise in cultural exploration if not just cultural tolerance. I don't even want to talk about the cockfights, but that's good because I'm young enough that I'm not allowed to go, and I'm sure it's for the best, because, though legal, I'm not sure that's any sort of thing I'm ready to see.
Above - I know it's a bit odd, but crabs in red, white, tan and blue are all available for sale at this roadside exotic bird emporium... They aren't even birds, people, even I know that!
Above - Maybe it's just me or my terrible command of Spanish, but to the best I can tell, this Polly most certainly does not want a cracker... she wants to be let out of her dime-sized cage.