Week 7(a)

by spaghettipirate

How quickly a week seems to go by when you are least expecting it. In this case, it is my last full week here and it has flown by in the blink of an eye.

The short of it? I am very much alive and well.

The long of it? Well this is why we are here, no? So read on friend.

And because of my terrible computer situation – I find that once again it has come to fill in the blanks for the events of last week.

I do apologize for my sudden and unintentional lapse into silence, but allow me to try to make it up with you as I walk you through what my life has been in these last few days (see: week)

Where we last left off, I had just come back from the castle of Chapultepec and the days have since blurred together. In honesty when I had come back from Friday’s adventure – which we will get to in a second – I was exhausted and so I resigned myself to falling asleep early.

And so on.

Friday: Friday’s adventure was to go to the Chapultepec Zoo. This is one of the largest zoos in the world, and the best part is that it is free admission to everyone every day of the week. Things such as the herpaterium or the butterfly garden cost a fee, but anything that is not in a building is free for everyone to see.

And what crowds! I am not sure if it was because we went on a Friday, or if it is because vacation season is upon Mexico, or some combination of them both, or if it really is that crowded every day of the week.

To say sardine like crowds would be exaggerating a bit, but it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch of the truth of the matter.

We arrived around 13.00 – again with the fighting for a parking spot, although this time we found free time for the small price of blackmail which rang in at 40 pesos.

That being that the street parking is very – and I mean with vulture like monitoring – closely guarded by groups of people who wave their towels at you into their parking spots.

And if you don’t pay you may ask? Well then expect to come back to find your car keyed, wheels punctures, glass shattered, and/or and of them above.

It’s a big fish eat little fish situation in a city where corruption and money under tables rules the day. I am not saying that the United States is any better at corruption – surely it is not – but the openness of the blackmail and the corruption is something I find drops my teeth.

Of course it’s a big fish eats the smaller fish situation and sad to say we are the smallest fish in the tank. And while it’s not the 40 pesos, it’s the notion of “this is my oxygen, this is my sidewalk and you must pay up or else” that gets me.

And when the “or else” isn’t made lightly, you do what you must.

But okay, we made it to the zoo in one piece, and began our tour of the animals we would find there.

While most of the animals look well enough fed, what was seriously disappointing – aside from the fact that you mostly come to see vegetation as the animals are all hiding from so many screams and eyes – was both how they kept the ostriches and the Capuchin monkeys. To a lesser extent to rhinosaurus too was is a sorry state.

If it is for want of money or experienced zookeepers, I am not sure.

What I am positive about is that the ostrich was beyond plucked. The ostrich they kept in a pen with some horse or another. But the shocking thing was that this ostrich was just about as naked as the day we arrive into this world. There were hardly any feathers on this poor giant bird, and it’s wings looked skeletal as only the long white tips remained. A ostritch is supposed to be this be intimidation feathered animal, and this one looked sickly with no feathers. If the horses were bothering it, or not, I am not sure. From what I saw, there was no harassment. But I do think that a bird of that size would not allow itself to be plucked like a turkey for Thanksgiving without a fight. I am inclined to say that it was sick – and whatever the zookeepers were or were not doing needed to change.

The Capuchin monkey was alone in his pen – remember these are animals that live in large social groups – and was pacing back and forth stressed and anxious from either the amount of people or his being alone. The other monkeys were kept in groups, but the Capuchin monkey was kept alone.

The rhino’s horns too had started to fuse into one, for the shorter one had grown and grown until is started to grow downwards and into the primary horn. I am not sure if this occurs naturally in the wild – but again I think that the zookeepers should have trimmed or taken care of his horn, at least.

But okay enough with the sad news.

The good news was that they had about 5 giraffe’s in a large pen, and I even snapped a cool picture of a giraffe bending down for a drink of water. (Giraffe’s are my favourite large animal) They looked well taken care of.

And while they didn’t have otters, this zoo did have two white tigers, which, although they were lurking in the back of their pen, were easy enough to spot against the green foliage. They’re such a rare sight – for they are not albinos – that to have two of these animals was a treat to see. I also have a few friends who love tigers, so I can imagine their jealousy.

The other best part was seeing all the big cats that were out – perhaps because it was close to their dinner time or because the high heat of the day and the peak of the crowds were thinning out.

They have black panthers and regular coated ones, so it fun to see them being cats and working hard – sleeping, that is.

After the zoo we wanted to go to the botanical garden but they too closed at a stupid early hour and by the time we left the zoo it was 17.30 and all we saw of the botanical garden was the plants kept close to the gates.

It did give a good opportunity to see the pictures by Miguel Ramos again, which together with the cactus’ nearby made for a happy me.

Dinner was a taco pig-out on the street of the hungry. Aptly named because on this street every building is inviting with their smells of cooked meat and tacos.

We had some of the best tacos al pastor eaten right there on the street, and washed it down with a juice from La Michoacana that was strawberry based.

There were also plenty of people eating cow tongue in their tacos and it is my goal to go back before I leave to have at least one tongue taco because it has genuinely piqued my interest.

And of course to go back for seconds and thirds of the tacos al pastor.
Saturday: We woke up early on Saturday and I went for an easy jog around the lake while my aunt and I waited for Alejandra and Jorge to show up – because they too had expressed in coming to see the giants of Tula.

In the end Jorge didn’t come with us – because being 16 and rebellious without a cause ended up with him getting into a spat with his mother. My aunt was just about thisclose to getting him to come along, but a phone call interrupted and in the end it was just us three girls.

So we got to Tula while they were open, and while the tickets that they gave us for this archeological site were from last year and not nearly as pretty, the site is not as empty as they would have you believe.

The indians who founded Tula were the Toltecas – although they too often mixed with the Teotihuacan indians. This made for the sixth archeological site that I have been too and while the stone giants were not as large as my aunt had made them out to be, they were still on top of a 15 meter pyramid and still about 3 meters in height.

One of the men who works INAH (the archeological types) gave us a free talk about the area and that before the Toltecs found the Aztecs there were no human sacrifices. But now in the middle of the site there is a lifted stone platform where the human sacrifices were made.

Additionally the Toltecs too looked toward the night skies, but did so by the means of a reflecting pool from inside one of their chambers. The palace was divided into various rooms, from where warriors were allowed to only the high priests.

And the giants?

Turns out that they’re some of the famous kings of Tula, who because they wanted to ascend into heaven were dressed up as victors of the ball game, but we can tell the difference between real players and the politicians by their footwear. The players wore knee-high boots, and the politicians sandals.

So because my aunt had a bridal shower to get to, we booked it home where Black was waiting for us, on all fours, feeling much better like a baby foal who just learns to walk for the first time. We are all very pleased at his recovery, in that he feels strong enough to walk!

My aunt went to the bridal shower – and Ale Jorge and I ate Mexican style pizza – which doesn’t come with tomato sauce on bottom – and then while we wanted to see a film, the seats were all sold out so we settled on fro-yo instead.

Which I don’t call a bad compromise at all.

And then we went the rest of the evening watching whatever was on TV – and my aunt came home long after they left, close to midnight, wearing a plastic diamond ring and an apron.

It seems to me that she had a good time.

But we would need our sleep because on Sunday the trek to Guadalajara would begin.

Sunday: To think that we had started out the road trip so well, only to need to double back after 30ish minutes on the road because my aunt had left her cell on the charger.

In the end it was okay because it meant that I could eat my tamale and not have to throw it out.

The drive was anything but direct, because we stopped at Queretaro, and Tequisquiapan. We had wanted to stop at the Pena De Bernal, but time ran out on us. And to see the world third largest rock? I don’t think I am missing out on much.

We brought the dogs with us, and you have never seen so many people croon over the tiny little dogs. The dogs of course were nervous but they behaved.

Tequisquiapan is a market place of joys and wonders, because there they sell a little bit of everything.

We bought caramalized walnuts and I bought myself another stone frog – the stone came from one of the mines nearby. My aunt bought place mats, and we just walked and walked among the stalls until hunger got the best of us.

We made friends with other Chihuahua owners and lunch was a nicely sized and seasoned salad full of slices of chicken breast and goat cheese and olives.

The next stop was Queretaro, and while it was less crowded – for we got there around 17.00 – we had shaved ice and watched as the estudiantinas called for people to follow them. The estudiantinas are more famous in Guanajuato, but I am glad that the culture is still alive.

In the end I liked Tequisquiapan over Queretaro, but both little pueblos I find charming. Plus when the weather is fine you can just keep going – especially when you know you have a 4/5 hour drive in front of you.

Mexico is a bigger country than you think it is.

The drive was pretty uneventful until the last leg where Tlaloc let it pour just as the night had fallen and our high-speed was reduced to a fair crawl.

They say that Guadalajara is number 2 in the world for lightning storms, and I believe it, for the entire ride was light up by cracks of lighting and the thunder heard far off.

When we finally arrived at the houses we are staying at, it was near 23.00 and aunt 2 was upset because tomorrow would be her birthday and she had to work, so she was expecting us earlier to hang out. (Sorry, not really sorry – we will be here through Sunday)

So we collapsed into Uncle’s house with a horribly hard bed that left me with aches in the morning – but would be later fixed with a plethora of blankets and sleeping bags.

And so the next post comes about my last few days here in Guadalajara, look to that this evening.

Today seems to be a fairly clam day, indeed it is 12.16 at the time of writing, but we may go bowling if I can convince my aunt to take me outside. And with the weather turned, it just might happen.