Did you know that Guatemala City is currently ranked 25th in the world in urban homicide rate? I love it there.

I’ve now been into the city four times so have begun to explore a bit, but I cannot think of the city now without thinking of the zoo.

The Aurora Zoo has a jaguar exhibit with three jaguars. It has a Jersey cow and a limping goat in the ‘farm’ exhibit’. There was a toucan, and an aviary I refused to go in.

There were monkeys.

I was expecting a Zoo of the Damned situation (what my husband calls the Kuala Lumpur zoo, where for a small fee you can feed a live chicken to a python), but was pleasantly surprised. Yes, the exhibits or cages were often too small for the size or number of animals in them, and I expressed my dismay at this in whiny First-World tones (especially the Bengal tigers: why three?), but the pens were clean and the animals looked healthy. Except for the goat.

It was a sunny day, not too hot, and we started out with lunch right inside the entrance. We had Domino’s and it was delicious.

(Side note: Fast food here, especially McDonald’s, is wonderful. It is hot and fresh because it is always packed inside and they can barely keep up with orders. No cold fries sitting in a puddle of their own grease – they’re straight from the fryer and into your greasy mouth. Fare such as McDonald’s and Domino’s is luxury food here for many of the locals. The bathrooms are pristine and there are waitresses. We have McDonald’s every time we drive into and out of the city. I have eaten more McDonald’s here in six weeks than I have in the last six years and I don’t care what you think about that.)

So, we had Domino’s then ice cream and then went to see the hippos and giraffes (which are somehow always underwhelming), and then we steadily made our way towards the back and the star attraction: the jaguars. They’re beautiful and graceful and their paws are huge and soft-looking. I didn’t get a picture.

But I got a lot of pictures of the nearby monkeys, because apparently A loves monkeys. She squealed at the sight of them and approached their enclosure with a dangerous zeal.


Here’s what happened when I pulled her away:


In the enduring contest between nature and nurture, this is a firm win for nature. I really love A but her love of monkeys feels intensely personal.

Look at it.

Version 2

Look at the tail.

Version 2

It has a fingernail.

I pointed this out to G and made a self-gagging motion with my finger. Then I imagined the finger-tail gagging me and I had to sit down.

After that the zoo was ruined. When I think of the city now, which I love, I think of the zoo. I’m sure this painful association will fade over time, as, hopefully, will my daughter’s selfish love of monkeys.

Which I hate.



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