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Playing Tourist–Guadalajara Zoo

This year, the elementary school I work at, had its class trip to the Guadalajara Zoo.  Never one to miss an adventure, I signed us up. Overall, it was a nice experience and one I would reccomend for tourists visiting Mexico.

Despite the agonizingly long bus trip to and from Guadalajara, the class trip to the zoo went pretty well.  The animals seemed well cared for.  There were even babies in evidence, showing adequate food and living conditions.  

The aquarium was small but nice.  The penguin exhibit seemed a bit lacking in penguin stimulation opportunities.  A snow slide or two would have been nice.  Maybe a dancing penguin.  Nope.  Nothing like that happened here.

No happy feet here.

No happy feet here.

There were two shows available, birds and reptiles.  Both were short and entertaining even though there was some snake kissing going on.

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The sky zoo was out of commission, but my son said that was just as well.  They seemed a bit rusty and unreliable to him.

The “train” ride wasn’t really worth it.  It went entirely too fast and the same route can be covered on foot.  These animals were in smaller enclosures, not in an open area like the safari.

The Safari Masai Mara was much better than BioParque. Our guide almost seemed authentic with his brightly colored robes on and dashes of Swahili in his scripted presentation. The animals had both shade and adequate water. They didn’t seem listless and hungry.

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The giraffes were mighty friendly. Also more ecologically sound was the fact that our guide gave us handfuls of food to feed the giraffes rather than a cup, reducing our ecological footprint (again, unlike BioParque).

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The Rancho Veterinario was pretty lame. There were a handful of small animals behind glass, Shetland ponies, mini-donkeys, a Clydesdale, a cow and a hairy pig. La Yacata has more variety. Although there was a short discussion about what it means to take care of animals, the animals were not interested in interacting with the students and the students seemed abnormally horrified at all the pooping going on. This part can be skipped completely.

The food was typical fast food, greasy and overpriced. You are allowed to bring your own food into the park, so that is what I would recommend.  Souvenirs are 3 times what you can get at a regular store, but better quality than most.  We bought a little Masai drum to add to the Jaguar whistle and Carved Skull from Teotihuacan.

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One bit of the trip that made my heart soar was the fact that so many of the kids referenced something we had discussed in English class when seeing the animals.  In fourth grade, we just finished discussing extinct and endangered species.  When we passed the mountain goat section, a fourth grader shouted out that the Pyrenean Ibex was extinct.   In fifth grade, we are discussing forms of communication. We watched the video about Koko and gorilla sign language.  That topic came up as we passed the gorilla enclosure.  In third grade, we just finished discussing animal abilities with can and can’t.  Of course, the students already knew that the giraffe can clean its ears with its tongue and that penguins can’t fly.  Even my lackluster student in sixth pointed out that a certain bridge would be perfect for bungee jumping (extreme sports being our current theme).  Validation as a teacher!

However, as I mentioned, that LOOOOONG trip there and back prevents it from being a repeated activity, at least for us.

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This post was proofread by Grammarly.

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Claudia’s San Pancho Marine Turtle Adventure–Exploring Puerto Vallarta

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I felt lighter walking because I didn’t have to haul my bothersome suitcase in order to explore the place. The first thing I did was take a good look at the sea, so blue and distant. I also wanted to try and see if I could understand the significance of the enormous monument placed at the beginning of the seawall path.

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While I was looking at all this, I saw a small path of rocks on the beach in the sand. I decided to walk along the rocks instead of the seawall. I picked up some rocks, only enough so that their weight wouldn’t tire me. This wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. I could have left my chosen rocks and returned to pick them up so as not to carry them the whole time, however, my emotion betrayed my reasoning. Although I didn’t really feel the weight because for every rock that I picked up, I also picked up all the trash in that area. It was a sad and disagreeable sight. I hope people are more conscientious about the trash on the beach and in the sea. I don’t understand why it seems like so much work to them to throw the bottles in the trash can. There were many there.

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At the end of the pier, there were many beautiful stores, bars, discos, jewelry stores, and restaurants of every style and theme imaginable. There was a jewelry store that looked like a mine with mining cars, stones, and quartz. There was a jungle-themed bar with various fiber and glass animals and cages for people. I could only image the type of dancers that frequented this place, however, at the moment there was a child inside the cage. His dad was taking pictures. I decided to take advantage of the situation and asked the man to take a picture of me too. I didn’t take many pictures of these places because really I enjoyed only looking at them and I felt that taking out my camera would distract me and steal much of my limited time. I walked a lot and photographed various statues. My favorites were the mermaid and Triton statues. It broke my heart to see poor Triton without an arm.  There was a seahorse and some chairs that resembled strange sea creatures around the stature.

 

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I arrived at the Playa Los Muertos (The Dead Beach). It was a shame that I didn’t arrive from the gay side. I discovered that the beach was divided into two parts thanks to two friends that I will talk about a little later. I met up with Mr. Willi, an artist that has spent 26 years carving wood to create his beautiful marionettes. I have never seen any marionettes so well made as his. The typical marionettes that I had seen were made from cloth with the head, hands, and feet made of plastic. However, these intrigued me so much that I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful Pinocchio. I asked Mr. Wili to teach me how to move it. If you are interested in acquiring one of his magnificent creations, you can find him in front of the pier, in front of the condominiums “Molina de Agua.” His phone number is (322)125-2461 and he can do special requests as well.

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After I explored part of the pier, I finally paid attention to my stomach and arrived at a restaurant “Cuates y Cuetes” that has been around since 1993. They offer mainly seafood but also have hamburgers, sandwiches, and grilled meat. It’s not very expensive and I left feeling well satisfied because the meal portions were a good size.13900460_1099327436782035_1124338750_n

I ordered a seafood dish, a mix of fish and shrimp, that came with a good quantity of crackers and tortilla chips. To go with my meal, I ordered a drink called Red Sky, beer with lime, salt, and tomato juice.

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Here I met Mrs. Irma, the cashier at the restaurant, and the head waiter Jacinto who has very friendly while attending me. If you have the urge to have a good conversation about the stories of Puerto Vallarta, he is who you should speak with. It was he who told me about the coconut oil, some small seeds that were found on the beach that resemble exactly small coconuts a little bitter than a nut. He told me that the seeds came from upper parts and were carried down to the beaches by the rains. He said that before they were collected for their oil which was sold on the beaches as suncream, but this custom has been lost. The restaurant is on Francisca Rodríguez #101 Col. Emiliano Zapata. The email is cuatesycuetes@gmail.com and the phone number is (322)223-2724. You can find almost everything on the pier, food, banks, souvenir shops, etc.
Getting around by bus is easy. The routes are marked by color and signs on the front of the bus. After my little walk through Puerto Vallarta, I finally started my journey to Nayarit and arrived in San Pancho that night.

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Me sentía más ligera para andar porque ya no tenía que cargar mi molesta maleta para explorar el lugar; lo primero que hice fue echar un ojo al mar tan azul y lejano, también ver y tratar de entender el significado del enorme monumento que había en el comienzo del camino del malecón.
Mientras observaba vi que había un pequeño tramo de piedras en la playa en lugar de arena, decidí caminar por las piedras en lugar de arriba del malecón. Tomé sólo las suficientes piedras para no cargar mucho peso y cansarme, no fue muy inteligente de mi parte haber hecho eso; pude haber dejado mis piedras seleccionadas y después volver por ellas para no cargarlas durante todo mi camino. Jeje la emoción traiciona mi razonamiento, pero hasta eso que no sentí el peso porque por cada piedra que tomaba levantaba una basura del lugar, fue algo triste y desagradable ver al comienzo, ojalá la gente tome más conciencia de la basura en las playas y el mar, no sé porque les cuesta trabajo tirarlos a los botes de basura, ¡Había muchos ahí!
En fin, todo el camino en el malecón había hermosas tiendas, bares, antros, joyerías y restaurantes de todos los estilos y temáticas. Había una joyería que parecía una mina y había vagones mineros, piedras, cuarzos. Un bar/antro con temática de la selva; tenía varios animales de fibra de vidrio y jaulas para personas, me imagino para las bailarinas que ambientan el lugar, pero en ese momento era un niño quien estaba dentro de una y su papá le sacaba fotos, aproveche para hacer lo mismo y pedirle el favor de tomarme una foto igual. No tomé muchas fotos de esos lugares porque realmente disfrutaba de sólo verlos y sentía que sacar la cámara me distraía y robaba mucho de mi tiempo limitado. Caminé mucho y fotografíe varias estatuas, mis favoritas fueron la Sirena y el Tritón; se me partió el alma ver sin brazo al pobre del Tritón, el famoso caballito del Mar y unas sillas de extrañas criaturas marinas.
Llegué hasta “Playa Los Muertos” fue una lástima fue no llegué hasta el lado gay, descubrí que se dividía en dos partes gracias a dos amigos con los que hablé más adelante; pero en el camino encontré al Señor Willi, un Artesano que lleva 26 años tallando madera para crear hermosas marionetas. Nunca había visto unas tan bien elaboradas como las suyas, las más comunes que he visto son los de tela con cabeza, manos y pies de plástico. Pero éstos me cautivaron tanto por su trabajo, que no pude resistirme a comprarle un hermoso Pinocho y le pedí al Señor Willi que me enseñara cómo manejarlo. Si están interesados en adquirir una de sus maravillas, él se encuentra en el Malecón frente a los condominios de “Molino de Agua” su número es: (322) 125 24 61, también elabora pedidos especiales.
Después de explorar parte del Malecón, por fin le hice caso a mi estómago y llegué al Restaurante “Cuates y Cuetes” que existe desde 1993. Ofrecen principalmente platillos del mar, pero también tiene hamburguesas, sándwiches y carnes asadas. No es muy costoso y te deja satisfecho porque son buenas porciones de comida la que viene en el platillo; mi orden fue un ceviche mixto (pescado y camarón) acompañado de una buena cantidad de galletas y totopos y para acompañar, una bebida llamada “cielo rojo”, cerveza con limón, sal y clamato. Ahí conocí a la Señora Irma, quien es la cajera del restaurante y al capitán de meseros Jacinto quien fue muy amable en atender mis órdenes. Si tienen muchas ganas de tener una buena conversación de historias de Puerto Vallarta él es el indicado, fue él quien me contó sobre el “coco de aceite”; unas pequeñas semillas que encontré en la playa y que precisamente parecía pequeños cocos del tamaño un poco más grande que una nuez. Me contó que son semillas que provienen de las partes altas y son arrastradas a las playas por las lluvias; antes se recolectaban para sacar su aceite y venderlo en las playas como bronceador, pero esa costumbre ya casi se perdió. La dirección es Francisca Rodríguez #101 Col. Emiliano Zapata. cuatesycuetes@gmail.com y teléfonos (322) 223 27 24, se dirige con Paco (Fco. Castro Gonzalez). Se puede encontrar casi de todo en el Malecón, comida, bancos, recuerdos, etc.
Andar en micros o autobuses es fácil de ubicar sus rutas por los colores de cada micro y los letreros en la parte de enfrente. Después de mi pequeño paseo por Puerto Vallarta por fin tomé rumbo hacia Nayarit y llegué a San Pancho por la noche.

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