Friday, May 18, 2012

Sand in Places . . . Nest of Snakes

There was only two free days before we had to leave.  Before we HAD to get back to school and work . . . before we had to give up paradise! So . . . logically we filled it.

Approximately 10 miles from our house is a Zoo . . . if you will!  Really it is a small collection of birds, spider monkeys, and reptiles . . . amphibians.

We had seen it about a million times . . .traveling to and from the airport, Cancun, and other sites.  We passed it and thought how could THIS be a zoo.  It doesn't look anything like the Dallas Zoo, and Lord knows that place isn't top notch.  It certainly doesn't look anything like the Ft. Worth Zoo.  The Crococun Zoo, there on the highway . . . passed by many everyday . . . is quite unassuming.

A few years back we were down for a couple of week.  Always being the kind of vacationers to pack a vacation full with things to do . . . sights to see . . . and little rest or down time.  We finally decided to hit this place up!  It was just the 4 of us and so we decided to see what it was about.  We piled in the car and drove approximately 10km to the Crococun Zoo.

The lobby was under construction.  We decided to stick with it.  Just standing in the lobby . . . we were hot, dying of thirst and being bit by mosquitoes.  We bought some waters and bug spray and headed off with our personal guide through the complex.

What set this zoo apart from all the others was that they offered a hands-on experience and so we decided to return again this trip.

 Last time Jake was in a stroller . . . this time he was a full blown walking and not listening little boy . . . how I loved that stroller time!

We set out to arrive right after it opened . . . thinking 1 - it will be cooler in this not so cool spot located far from a beach and 2 - we will be most likely to have a private tour again.

Boys are dress, bug spray in hand, water bottles in the bag, snacks for the boys . . . and we are out the door . . . leaving all the lazy bones back at the house to sip on pina coladas . . . how I long to be back there being a lazy bone!

We arrived.  We park.  We know the drill . . . we go buy our tickets.  Holy Shamoly!  The lobby is nice, there is a breeze and there are mosquito bands for sale . . . $20!  No cans, just these mosquito bands called Quitos. Side note - I got the name - looked them up when we got back to the house.  They are NOT sold in the US . . . wonder why?!?!?!  They last 15 days and would be perfect for scoots when he goes away to camp!

Clearly the bad US economy has hit here . . .prices went up and food for the animals decreased! Jake was free, Scoots was $15 and we were $25 each.  The lady taking our money pulls out one bag of food.  Last time we each received our own bag . . . each of us . . . AND now the guide has to hold the bags.  Who knows . . . but we go with it and negotiate for one more bag of food. Seeing that she would be better off just giving in . . . she caves!

We are asked to wait in the courtyard as we see a taxi van pull up.  We would rather have a private tour.  We attempt to bribe the guide to go ahead and start us, but he was too young to be tempted by cash!  What is wrong with kids these days?

The other families join us . . .it is two couples each has a baby approximately one year old, bags and strollers.  The loud guy cracks a not so good joke. My boys just look at him with the "really dude" face.  He ended up being very funny and all were really nice.

The guide greets us and starts to tell us about the zoo.  He says "Do you know what Cancun means?"  I do, I heard this information the last time we were there.  I sit quiet but my son remembered.  "Cancun means nest of snakes" was his reply.  The ladies are not pleased.  The guide explains should you hear a rusteling in the trees it is probably a tree snake.  He explains how we should be on the look out for them.  I really want to put this information out of my brain!!!

We are off.  First stop is the birds.  The guide tells us about the birds, where they come from, what they eat and their special skill.  Each child poses with a parrot. 

Looking back over the pictures I wish I had moved Scoots out of the sun as it is not a good picture.  Jake on the other hand . . . great lighting but seriously scared of the bird!  Fine by me . . . no bird pets in our future!

We then move on to the small crocodile tank.  The guide pics one up, he talks about the eyes, ears, their breathing.  He opens the mouth to show how to regulate their temperature and it looks as if there is no place for food.  Tricked again . . . they have a trapped door where the food goes. 

Pictures all around - both children had no problem with the crocodiles!  One of the grown men from the other group was scared . . . notice the mouth was rubber banded???

On from there is the snapping alligator turtle, no hands on experience here.  The guide says those turtles are mean! 

We next see iguanas.  Big ones . . . small ones . . . green ones . . . and some not so greet.   We are not allowed to hold these.  But seriously several were larger than our youngest child who is 41" tall!

Once through the iguana exhibit aka looking at them through 3" glass which stand 5 ft tall while they are 2 to 3 feet below our level . . . because they can jump . . . Yup, good thing they are 8 feet below us!

Last time we were here the "wearing a snake" thing was kinda cool.  Then once done I remembered it was a boa . . . so with that in mind I was more mindful of the boys wearing a snake!

Jake was a little scared . . . and I know this only because of the picture.  He didn't put up a fuss or freak out with the snake around him.  You can see how uneasy he is and I because very uneasy as this snake started closing in on his neck!

Scoots is a pro but looks just a little uneasy.  The father's picture from last time was one of sheer fear.  This time he mustered a brave face for his boys!

 Snakes to Lizard.  Yup - this was the same kid of lizard that bit Sharon Stone's husband between his toes, and probably led to their marriage falling apart . . . lizards can do that!  This komoto dragon is one ugly fellow and rather big!

Back to more snakes.  We passed by probably 8 containers holding snakes from those found in Mexico, to the most venomous that they have, to the tree jumpers, garden snakes, green snakes, tiny snakes and then the mother of all snakes . . . an Anaconda! 

Once the Anaconda spotted our youngest sons at 41" and 40 pounds it was hungry.

He slithered from his spot past my husband . . . our older son . . . me . . . onto our youngest.  The entire time we are standing at his enclosure I was thinking of Jennifer Lopez in the movie Anaconda with Ice Cube and that snake was beyond scary!

The guide informs us they are building a new enclosure for him with cement walls and bullet proof glass - it is needed because his strike is so powerful.

The guide also filled us in on the anaconda's eating habits . . . as the park is closing . . . one of the staff drops a live chicken in the enclosure.  The chicken hops around, clucks until the anaconda is done and he squeezes it to death.  He said the snake needs to feed every 15 days and that the blood bath from a chicken being squeezed until it pops is a major mess!  Not sure I will be eating chicken any time soon!

There was also a Burmese Python there . . . but it was far less interesting. Really after Britney did the whole dance thing with one . . . it has been overplayed!

Once we were done with the snakes we rounded a corner to the croc pit.  Really it is more of a water hole for them to cool off in, trees and brush for shade and a place to lay their eggs.  As we approached the gate we noticed a croc laying in the walking path through this exhibit.  The guide entered the exhibit, walked up behind the croc . . . lifted his tail . . . and the croc got up and walked off.  OH and he happened to walk back by the gate where we were all standing.

 The guide assured us . . . here in Mexico . . . in the middle of the jungle . . . that entering a crocodile enclosure was a completely safe thing to do . . . sure why not?!

As we entered we were met with the walking croc laying in the brush to the right of the entrance.

We precede up the path a few feet only to notice the croc in the water starting to thrash.  He doesn't want us in there . . . he wants us to know he is unhappy. 

One of the couples with the baby decides they are out! 

We press on!  Just 5 steps further along we encounter another croc.  As you can see this one was also laying in the middle of the path.  Our guide manages to take our cameras and moves around him without provoking the croc.  He crouches down and tells the families to get in the frame.  Seriously they are less than two feet from the tail of the croc.

Meanwhile . . . the water croc has gotten out of the water . . . and he is coming for us.  Being someone who always had to have a plan . . . I decided if the croc got close enough . . . I would shove my Louis Vuitton demin bag in his mouth.  It is probably the size of the couple's baby and who care if I lost the bag or if things became damaged - we would be safe . . . right . . . sure great plan!

Thankfully I still have my bag.  The croc did come closer.  He squatted on the edge of the path.  We moved on down it and the croc sat there hissing at us.  Loving this hands on encounter stuff!

The day wasn't over until we had fed, touched or had pictures taken with many other inhabitants of the zoo.

The color on the Peacock was beautiful.  They blue looked like it had a light on it. 

 We all had the opportunity to feed the deer some bananas and eucalyptus leaves.  The monkeys got grapes and nuts.

The temperature was starting to heat up so our encounter ended at the right time.  We would absolutely do this again . . . it is close to our house, reasonably priced and who knows what encounters we might have the next time.

Overall it was a fun, educational and a  slightly scary encounter.  This stull doesn't happen in Dallas or anywhere in the US.  You can only do this kind of encounters in a country where business owners don't fear litigation.

We have so many fun stories to tell and lots of pictures to remind us.  We asked Jake what was his favorite part . . . "Being chased by a crocodile."  Not sure that is exactly what happened but that is his story and he is sticking to it!

Upon our return to the villa . . . the lazy bones were in the pool . . . the pina coladas were all gone . . . and the massage therapist had just arrived.  Now THAT is my story and I am sticking to it!

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