A Long Journey to the Zoological Park
A Long Journey to the Zoological and Botanical Park
Robert from New York and Takahiro and Azusa from Hokkaido, Japan sent us emails with their photos of our day together and it was nice to know our shared experience did not mark the beginning and end of our acquaintance.
The experience of the time efficient and learning filled day with Francois was turned upside when we set out to visit the Zoological and Botanical Park the next day. The helpful young trainee lady in the tourist office had advised us that the bus time for the trip to the park had altered from 9.55am to 9.00am and she marked our timetable accordingly. So we were sitting at the bus stop by 8.30am, we left the marina early for the walk over the hill to the city centre because Rob’s back was playing up. The number 40 bus came and went twice with the same driver so when she returned a third time I asked her about the number 41 that left from the same bus stop.
“That is me with this bus and we leave at 9.55 and 12.35.” So the same bus changed its number and ran twice a day up to the centre. We escaped into the warm hospitality of the little café nearby for a coffee and cake to shorten the wait and reward our patience.
The Park is described as being ‘in the heart of the city’ but how that can be when it takes a 15 minute bus ride out of the city to get to it stretches the imagination. We arrived five minutes before the opening and sat, still patiently, with a few others who had come by car.
Map in hand Rob tried to work out a logical route around the park but it seemed a random meander was the best bet. The park itself is for a few species of familiar birds, the sedentary flora and us visitors; most of the birds and animals are caged up. Little flocks of finches at least had the company of eachother but one cage held a solitary falcon, the fastest bird unable to fly.
A pitiful spider monkey, its back scabbed and tummy severely concave moving slowly looked uncared for and it seemed that only the cagous had decent sized enclosures one could call their ‘territory’. The park itself was very pretty in places and laid out for the pleasure of the visitor with displaying peacocks and nice picnic areas and different ecologies along the promenades and circuits, but to actually learn anything new one needed a good knowledge of French to read the information boards so all the English, Spanish and Asian speaking world was excluded from their fount of knowledge.
After three hours of looking around we made our way back to the restaurant building hoping for maybe a coffee or an ice cream; inexplicably it was closed and a pleasant lady in a mobile canteen had churros and crepes on offer instead. We sat on a bench to eat our packed lunch and admire the view realising that the bus lady had made her second visit for the day and gone an hour ago, so we now had a wait of two hours before we could catch the bus back into town.
Unimpressed and saddened by what we had seen I asked the lady in the office to call us a taxi and we left thinking that the place needed a change in ethos and organisation. We caught another number 40 bus on the same route two days later and it sped past the bottom of the small hill that leads up to the park every half hour from 5.00am to 5.00pm, so why could they not have laid on a little complementary minibus to cover the rest of the journey and actually encourage people to visit. Then there would be the need to re-open the restaurant which people would see on their way in and know was there for their pleasure during their stay. Missed potential, end of complaint. xx