Sunday, September 28, 2014

Paseo to the Lima Zoo

This Friday I was fortunate to go with one of my fifth grade classes on their field trip to the Lima Zoo: "Parque de las Leyendas." We left Puerto at 4:30am and arrived around nine at the park. For only S/.10, or $3.50, we spent six hours just scratching the surface of this mammoth park.

The park is divided into regions representing the geographic regions of Peru. Each section stars animals and landscapes from its region, spaced between actual pre-Incan ruins. I was very impressed with the park- its cleanliness, beauty, and abundant bathroom facilities fully equipped with paper and soap (not something to be scoffed at).

In the mountains we encountered llamas, a pumas, condors, and many other typical animals nestled among waterfalls and eucalyptus trees. My fifth grade friends expertly identified replicas of Chavin and other ancient ruins hidden among the foliage. 
[Click photo to enlarge]

Through the gateway to the jungle everything changed. Tall trees walled us in, and even the ground itself had been replaced with the red clay soil typical of the jungle. Monkeys, bears, wild cats, and a variety of tropical birds dazzled us with their exotic markings and shapes.
A noon we sat on the grass and watched hundreds of other school students in their uniforms fill the expansive meadow. The mothers in our group opened the large bags they had been doggedly hauling around the park all morning and dished out heaping plates of arroz con pollo, tallarin saltado, escabeche de pollo, papa rellena, and fried yuca, chicken, or potatoes. Lunch cannot be skipped or skimped in Peru, so these mothers had risen at 3am to cook. Between us there was feast enough to feed any parent or kid who came unprepared or had to buy hamburgers in lieu of real food, i.e. rice.
We lazed about for almost two hours playing Uno and enjoying the spring weather until whatever it was we were waiting for happened, and we moved on to see animals from other countries: peacocks, hippos, zebras, and the like.
The final and smallest section was that of the coast. As coastal dwellers we live in a desert where cities or farms have replaced most natural habitats. Sea lions and penguins took center stage and entertained us with underwater acrobatics.

At dusk we headed to the fountain park before heading home and completing our 21-hour odessy.
For anyone passing through Lima I would definitely suggest a trip to the Zoo. I especially enjoyed sharing the wonder and enthusiasm of a bunch of ten-year-olds on my first visit there.
Some things are just better with kids.

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