Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Toronto, Ontario—Day 192

Today I woke up feeling sick and groggy. After dragging myself out of bed, I finally was on my way to the zoo around 10:45a.m. I decided to take a cab over to the shopping center and then take public transport from there. I mean, I did it yesterday, so why shouldn’t I be able to make it back to the zoo?

So I get to the shopping center, pay my taxi, and head into a huge Wal-Mart. I end up walking through the store and out into the larger, actual mall area of the shopping complex and find no way out of it. I walked around for a bit just looking for an exit SOMEWHERE but couldn’t find any that would lead me to the buses. I finally asked someone in a shop to lead me in the right direction and soon found the buses.

I went to pay for my ticket from the ticket booth man and asked to take the “Zoo Express.” This would lead me straight to the zoo. He told me that the zoo express only ran on the weekends, so I would have to take the 129, and then transfer to the 85. Ok, but where would I transfer? I looked confused and he finally said, oh, you need to get off at Sheppard. Just ask the driver.

So I wandered out and found my platform for Bus #129. When it came I got on and told the driver that I needed to go the zoo and that if he could tell me when we got to Sheppard Street that would be great.

About a half hour later I still hadn’t been told to get off. The number of people dwindled slowly as we kept going and pretty soon there was only me and a woman with her young son. We pulled up to a stop and they both got out, leaving just me. Then the bus driver turned to me and said, this is the last stop. You have to get off.

Ummm, ok, well, where was Sheppard then?

Oh, it was the second stop, he says. You needed to get of there? That was miles ago.


So I explain to him that I am not from here, and am in fact from Arizona (after he asks me, well, where are you from then?). Based on his blank look, I could tell that he didn’t have a clue about Arizona or where it is, and so I wasn’t surprised when he responded, now where’s that?

So I tried to explain to him where Arizona was but he didn’t seem concerned. Instead he told me that I should just ride the bus back with him and get off on Sheppard, then transfer to eh 85 and then I would have to transfer to the 86. No prob.

Ok. So we set off again in the other direction (back to where we started from) and several stops later ended up at Sheppard where he actually told me to get off! I got off, raced across the street and hopped on the 85 bus going East (following his directions that he shouted to me as I got off of the bus). I jumped on the 85 and soon was off going towards the zoo. Or at least I hoped.

Finally we made it to the stop that I knew I had to get off on to transfer to the next bus. I knew this solely because there was a group of teenagers on the bus who were also going to the zoo and who kept talking loudly about it and how they needed the bus driver to, like, totally tell them where to, like, get off for the zoo.

So we got off and all of the zoo-goers on the 85 bus got onto the 86 bus and one stop later we were at the zoo.

I went to a payphone and called up Lisa, my Toronto Zoo friend and she said that she would meet me in a few minutes at the entrance.

I bought my ticket and walked in and waited for Lisa. She showed up with her co-worker and both were on their lunch break. I apologized for not coming earlier (I told her yesterday that I would be at the zoo at 9am and now it was past 12:30pm) and we went into the gift shop to buy some cards, apparently, for their long distance boyfriends.

Our meeting was short but sweet and I said goodbye to them as they headed back to work and I headed over to the hippos. Or shall I say, hippo since I knew that today would be Samson on his own.

Well I found Samson alright. There he was snoozing away in the water. I still felt like crap and having the sun beating down on me watching Samson while he rolled around in the water wasn’t all fun and games. I needed some water. I needed to sit down.

Luckily both were near by so I got some water and sat to watch. And watch.

And watch.

By 2:30 I was pretty bored to say the least. Probably a first on this trip so far and I think it was because I was feeling so tired and sick. I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep forever. Luckily, after some scrounging, I found some Motrin IB in my bag which although said it is supposed to be used for headaches, it couldn’t not help how I felt then.

I also decided to find some lunch and so I walked over to the African Restaurant area where I got a cheeseburger and fries, and a large coke. Never mind that I have stopped drinking coke and said that I didn’t want it, I was served it anyways with my combo meal. I figured a little caffeine would probably wake me up a bit and hopefully make me feel better, so I drank a little of it.

One of the worst parts of being sick is losing the ability to taste things. Like I knew I was eating a cheeseburger (obviously, I could see it!) but I couldn’t smell or taste a thing for most of it, and ever so often there would be that, oh, I think this is a tomato, sense hit me which was making me feel more normal. It was probably that Motrin kicking in.

I finished my lunch and read for a bit then decided to head over to Samson again. As I was walking out of the bathroom near the lunch area, this zoo worker who seemed a bit in his own little world and a tad kooky was saying to himself (and I think to me), A stooooooorm is comin’ in! Big thunderstorms are rooooooolllin’ in!

And indeed one was. I thought I should get to Samson just in case he had moved while I had been gone, and hopefully I would be able to get pictures before this storm rooooooolled itself in.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.

I would like to say that I walked right up to the hippo enclosure and Sam was there, out of the water, ready to pose for me but he wasn’t. He had hardly moved since I was gone and seemed to have no problem with the rain that began to sprinkle down or with the loud thunderous booming that was quickly approaching us overhead. The grey storm clouds didn’t even faze him, and neither did the huge lightening strikes that began to hit the ground in the distance.


I got out my umbrella and stood ready for the rain, but my umbrella didn’t make do.

It started to pour. And I mean POUR. Like buckets and buckets of rain PORUING down on everything around it. I stood with several people under a straw roofed gazebo type thing and even that didn’t protect us from the downpour.

Everyone was soaking wet. I had to use my umbrella under the gazebo and that STILL wasn’t helping. The rain just got worse and worse. Finally it cleared up a little, enough for me to make a mad dash to the indoor African exhibit a few hundred yards away. I ran to the indoor exhibit and flung went in where there were tons of dry people waiting for the rain to stop. One look at me and my soaked pants (literally soaked up and over my knees) and you could tell that I wasn’t one of the suave people who had the common sense to avoid the rain ahead of time.

So I waited out the rest of the rain sitting on the floor across from the baboons and read my book while the rain slowed down. Finally it stopped (more or less to a sprinkle) and I went back out to Samson.

And he STILL hadn’t moved.

By this time it was just past 4 o’clock and I knew (well, I kept my fingers crossed) that the keeper would come at 4:30. It started to rain a little bit more steadily while I waited it out but when 4:30 rolled around, the clouds had rolled away and the sun had come out.

Luckily, eventually so did Samson.

The keeper (a different one from yesterday mind you) came out and fed Samson some melons and Samson didn’t even bother getting out of the pool like Perky and Petal did yesterday. He just stood with his mouth open and got tossed huge melons while the keeper explained all things hippo.

Samson finally got out of the water and went to eat some hay in his enclosure that the keeper had set out god knows how much earlier and I was able to get my photos of him while he munched don the hay. I noticed a huge growth on Samson back left foot and went to ask the keeper about it (who was just finishing up talking to some other interested zoo-goers) and he told me that Samson had had the growth for a few years now and it didn’t seem to be bothering him. But he assured me that the vets were taking good care of him and had their eye on it, so I was satisfied with his response.

I took pictures for a while afterwards while Samson made his way back into the water and then said goodbye and headed out of the zoo. I guess I should have just come at 4:30 when I knew the hippo keeper was going to talk, but then I would have missed being able to tell a story about the torrential rain.

Ah well, it all works out, doesn’t it?

So I left the zoo and hopped on the RIGHT bus this time, taking me to Kennedy Station where I got on the LTR to the shopping center near my hotel (feeling proud of myself for being able to negotiate Toronto’s public transport system on my own) and caught a movie before heading back to finish up my work for the day.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.