Tuesday, January 11, 2011 3:01 PM
Travels in the Yucatan - Parque Centenario and the Zoo
Six years ago, the first time we visited the Merida Zoo, the kids were not much more than babies. We were in the city doing some exploring and celebrating Cole's 2nd birthday so a trip to the zoo seemed like the perfect way to spend the afternoon. It turned out to be the perfect time for both little one's to spike a fever and come down with some sort of horrible virus that landed us in our hotel room for a few days. Two words: diarrhea and tights. Not a good combination especially in a public restroom at a playground.
This visit was entirely more pleasant with two happy healthy children set loose in acres of fun! The Parque Centenario is free and open to the public 7 days a week. Within the perimeter of the park you will find a small but well kept zoo, a sizable playground, gardens and walking paths and a variety of vendors peddling everything from palomitas to pony rides. First on the list were the bumper boats, always big fun. Who doesn't like a stinky hot boat motor perched precariously between their thighs
First stop at the zoo was a walk through the aviary. I snapped the Peacock photo required for all zoo visits but was pretty uninspired by the rest of the inhabitants which amounted to a few ducks and some chachalacas. In separate enclosures there were a few birds of prey, toucans, parrots, guacamayas, oscillated turkeys and other birds indigenous to this area. I think I was pretty impressed six years ago.
We continued on to the primates and saw several species of baboons, spider monkeys, capuchins and two large, old chimpanzees. As you know, Rob is a big fan of all things monkey so we lingered for quite awhile. The two chimpanzees, an adult male and female were obviously tired after a long day of being gawked at and ready for the front gates to close on the last visitors. The female was quite agitated and, while most of us were giving the cage a wide berth, one small child was lured close to the cage by her antics. This was the moment she had been waiting for. She reached back, grabbed a large handful of poo and hurled it at the unknowing young boy. Great thunderous laughter exploded from the crowd of onlookers who had been waiting as patiently as the chimp for this grand finale. Primate 1. Fragile ego of small child 0.
The big cats were really something to see. It was just before feeding time and they were all really riled up in anticipation of their supper. I don't think I have ever seem tigers quite this animated. I took a quick video of the tigers but I'm not sure it's very good.
Why so nervous?
Clever use for any old planes you might have laying about.
Less carnival attraction than vocational training methinks!
As the street lights turned on across the park, we returned to home base to wash the nature off and get spruced up for dinner. I had read a restaurant review on my favorite website for all things Merida, Yucatan Living, that had piqued my interest. Slavia, located on Paseo Montejo just across from the Monumento a la Patria, is not exactly the obvious choice for a family friendly meal but I had faith that the Kinnon kids would totally dig this place and the eclectic menu. My only concern was whether the staff at Slavia would welcome our motley crew. Rob didn't have any long pants, strongly recommended in the dining rooms of Merida's more formal dining rooms and the kids certainly didn't look like the typical young chic professional crowd that flocks to Slavia's funky restaurant and lounge on any given evening. Turns out my worries were for naught. The smartly dressed maitre d' greeted us warmly, welcomed us inside and settled us in to a cozy table in the front room.
This dinner falling squarely in the "special occasion" category, I requested the wine list We were presented with a nice list of wines, spirits and after dinner specialty liquors but, even better, I was invited to join the sommelier in the small temperature controlled wine vault to hand select a bottle. Joy! From their well thought out (if pricey) inventory, I selected a Cabernet-Temperanillo blend from a favorite Mexico wine house, Casa Madero, which at over 500 years old, is apparently the oldest operating
winery in the Western hemisphere. This line of wines are named for the
original San Lorenzo Winery, which was founded in its current location in the Valle de Parras region in Central Mexico in 1597! So far, so good.
The menu, as eclectic as the decor is dominated by what I refer to as "small plates" with a few "platos fuertes" and some fondue offerings. We had a tough time deciding what to try but settled on an array of appetizers including balsamic grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon, carpaccio, thai spring rolls and an ensalada caprese. We also tried a traditional fondue which the kids loved and a delicious grilled tuna dish. Everything was fantastic in taste and presentation with the exception of the caprese which came with edam cheese rather than the customary fresh mozzarella. It wasn't bad, just not what I wanted. The fondue was the best I have had in a long time with the perfect balance of cheeses and dry white wine and the tuna was fresh, moist and flavorful.. Yummo! We all left happy and satisfied and I wouldn't hesitate to go back, either with the kids or as a couple for a romantic evening.
Tomorrow, the feria de caballos in Tizimin. Joy!!
Go to: Day 4 - Tizimin and the Feria de Caballos