Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Leon, Mexico--Day 116

Today I went to the Parque Zoologico de Leon here in Leon, but first let’s talk about how I got here. I flew back to Tucson as I mentioned before on the 19th of May and was home for oh, about half a day. It was great to see my friends (my family is out of town at the moment) and do some catching up. It was a tease to be back though because before I knew it I was on a plane leaving for New York the very next morning (early too! My flight left at 7:15am!). I flew to New York for two days of hippo photograph printing with Richard (the boss). It was great to see him and to pick the best photos and print them out. I have to say that I was impressed with how some turned out!

Two short days later I was back on a plane to Tucson, where I arrived after flying through Las Vegas (my least favorite airport) back to Tucson at 1:30am where one of my best friends Sarah (yes, she’s also named Sarah) picked me up! What a whirlwind! To top that off, I was home for just about 35 more hours before I boarded a plane from Tucson to Dallas and onwards to Leon.


All of my flights were fine, all except, well for a few. On my flight leaving from Los Angeles a woman was sitting in my seat and refused to move out of it (she had the seat next to me in the aisle but wanted to sit near the window apparently and wouldn’t give it up) and the flight leaving from Vegas. For some reason my flights there are ALWAYS delayed (this one wasn’t actually by that much) but I had a nice seat in the front when the flight attendant asked for volunteers to move to the back of the plane to equalize the balance of the plane. Now I was sitting nicely in my seat, unlike a few people who had actually moved to the front of the plane from the back. I held a ticket that said I was supposed to be in the front! But she said this and that we wouldn’t take off until a few people moved. No one budged, so I finally did moving to the waaaaay back of the plane.

Luckily the flight was short but unfortunately it was really late at night. But I made it to Tucson just fine.

My flights to Leon yesterday were fine as well--I got to the airport early in Tucson and spent my time reading up on celebrity gossip while waiting for my flight to Dallas and then had to take the dreaded TRAAIN (you know what I am talking about!) to my connecting flight which was in terminal B. I was in terminal A (sorry for those who don’t’ know the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport and what I am talking about). Anyways, I get on the TRAAIN and there is this Japanese guy with a huge old’ mop of hair on his head who is seating right in front of the TRAAIN sign showing what terminals and gates it stops at. So I couldn’t see where we were stopping and was confused a little when we did stop. WE stopped at Terminal A (or was it C?) where the intercom told us “also for all international flights”). So I thought I should get off but then my terminal was B, not A/C. Hmmm. So I didn’t get off but when moppy haired person did, I realized that I was supposed to get off there. So I ended up getting off at the next stop and booking it to my gate, where I realized that I could have stayed on and caught the TRAAIN to terminal B.


Oh well. What could I do. I got on the teeny tiny plane which was filled with one woman’s entourage of grandchildren coming home from a week’s in Disneyland (sounded like a pretty cool present to me!) and we landed in Leon around 9:30pm.

Going through customs was a breeze compared to other countries. The man basically asked me how long I was staying, and I said two weeks, and he said, why not a month? And stamped my passport. Sweet!

WE had to go through security check points which was just amazing because it was like you were on a game show. No joke. You walked up to this huuuuge stop light looking buzzer thing and had to press it. If you got a green light, you could pass through but if you got the BUZZZZZ sound and the flashing red light, you had to go over and get your bags searched. It was pure luck that was for sure and I found myself getting really excited to press the button and see if I would be searched or not.

Guess what I got?

My bags were searched and I made it out to the waiting area. I wasn’t sure if someone was supposed to meet me here or not, and when I didn’t see anyone waiting I got a taxi to my hotel which was a ways from the airport. I checked in trying to use my Spanish skills (which weren’t THAT bad if I do say so myself) and called it a night even though I hadn’t eaten anything much.

I woke up this morning struggling just a little (I’ve been through like three time zones in three days!) I got up and ready and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant before getting a taxi to the zoo.

The zoo turned out to a little ways away from the hotel and my taxi driver Freddie was really nice. We got to the zoo and I persuaded him to come in and help me with the hippos (he offered to just wait for me since there wasn’t a taxi in sight at the zoo so I convinced him to come in with me) and we set off to the hippos. There were four of them, two on one side of a huge fence and two on the other. I took some pictures of the two in front of the huge fence but decided that the fence was too obstructing to get decent pictures of the second set.

So Freddie and I set off to find a keeper to help us and thank goodness Freddie was helping me! He went off and talked to a keeper who told us to wait for the “big man with the horse” (I understood that part) and so we went back to the hippos and waited. Finally Freddie got impatient so we went looking for the man with the horse and lo and behold we found him. Freddie went and talked with him and then we were sent to the zoo veterinarian who was going to “let me into the hippo pen”.

Hmm….I wasn’t so sure about them actually letting me in, and sure enough, I wasn’t going to be able to. We talked with the vet and she was really, really nice. She led me back to the hippos, all the while wondering what on earth I was doing and where I was from, and I was able to go back behind the wall and fence to get some pictures of the second group of hippos without the fence in the way. Perfect! Now all I would need to know is their names!

So we walked back to the vet building and she asked around but apparently the hippos don’t have names! I was stunned! They aren’t trained here, she tells me, so they don’t have names.

Poor guys! I couldn’t really object but I thanked her for her help and was on my way again with Freddie. He drove me back to the hotel and I thanked him for helping me get the photos. I’ve decided that its actually been much easier being in these foreign countries getting the photos (knock on wood!) because people are willing to help me out more than in the United States since I am a foreigner.

Anyways, the pictures turned out great and I spent the entire afternoon organizing photos and the photos that we chose for the porcelain service while I was in New York. It took quite a while but I felt much better getting everything squared away. I have two more full days here before I head to Puebla on Friday. After organizing the photos I headed out to fine a good restaurant near my hotel and had a great chicken mole dinner.