We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo (San Diego, day 3)

We checked out of our small but good-enough since we weren’t ever there hotel, first thing Sunday morning. Reid was going to need a bath instead of the shower in the common bathroom and eventually we were going to want to unpack a bit more and have a place we could stay if we needed to be in the room. Aunt Karin went to get the car and while we sat on the steps to wait, I brushed Reid’s hair and put braids in.  I’d tried to do it in the room but she cried loudly and the people in the next room knocked on the wall. Once outside, though, she had more to look at and wasn’t so loud. In the end, she had two very uneven braids on her head and only one tear on her cheek.

We were lucky that at 8:30am, there was an open room and we were able to take our bags up and settle a bit.
As she walked into the new room, Reid looked around at the two double beds, tv, table and chairs and ensuite bathroom, etc. – a standard sort of room – and said, “I looove it!” Compared to the last place it was pretty luxurious. Still, a cleared bed it important and we made sure that we could climb right in when we got back. We even remembered to pack Reid’s pull-up and pajamas so that we wouldn’t wake her getting her ready for bed. (Seems obvious, and it was, but it still took 3 days to actually do it.)

We decided to eat at the restaurant in the hotel lobby because we were eager to get to the zoo. Or maybe it was just me dreading getting Reid into and out of her car seat. Reid wanted “pandakes” and once she had one on her plate, she was asking if she could use her hands. I’m not sure why she is so intent on using her hands to eat after all these months of proficiency with her “sork”. I told her she had to choose between syrup and her hands. “But why, Mama?” The stickiness is not a downside when you’re two.

Finally, we were on our way to the San Diego Zoo. (This trip has reinforced my understanding of the fact that I am so much more impatient than Reid is for most things. She gets impatient with herself when she can’t accomplish something but not in anticipation of something. Perhaps she doesn’t plan and so has no reason to worry about timings.) Karin and I were singing Raffi’s “Going to the zoo” song while Reid looked at us like we were looney. The shuttle bus driver who had taken us from the airport to the car rental agency had recommended that we take the bus tour of the zoo as soon as we got there and so we did. Reid was happy just to be on another bus and once we started seeing the animals, her eyes got bigger and she smiled lots. The driver/guide, Amy, was informative and funny and I’d definitely recommend it. At the end of the tour, we walked back by the koalas and stopped to put money in the head of a wooden zebra on our way to the elephants. Elephants are truly impressive creatures to see in person. We noticed (okay, it was me) that there were great big elephant poop patties on the ground. Reid’s eyes were big as saucers and danced with laughter and her voice bubbled as she called out to Aunt Karin, “Look, Aunt Tarin. Efelant poop!” Because, really, is there anything funnier than elephant poop? I’m not sure what the other families thought but we laughed at Reid’s amusement/amazement. Next we headed toward Panda Canyon, walking by the camels – who have much thicker fur than I expected for desert animals – anteaters and others. Based on the signs, I decided we needed to take the moving sidewalk up the hill. At the top, there was a sign that said wheelchair/stroller users had to go through the aviary to get to the pandas. We wound our way back down, seeing beautiful birds, fish and vegetation. We came out and saw an Asian bear, some monkeys and end up right across from the moving sidewalk. At which point I noticed another sign pointing straight ahead to the pandas. And there they were. Turns out the first sign, which had an arrow on an angle that I interpreted to be pointing up, merely directed us across the street and up a bit. We would have skipped the aviary otherwise and it was a good mistake. Karin and Reid stood in line to see the pandas and I went to get Reid lunch in a souvenir bucket, she got got a hamburger, pop, chips, raisins and cookies. This was the only food or drink that wasn’t outrageously priced. Bottles of water started at $2.99 and a pop in a souvenir cup was more than $9. Turned out that the food line moved more slowly than the panda line and Reid and Karin were waiting at the entrance when I got back. Reid ate her lunch while the pandas ate theirs. It was almost a tea party. As Reid had been nodding off while waiting in line, we immediately headed for the gate so that we could get her to the car for her nap.

Reid played along and was soon asleep in her car seat while we drove to San Ysidoro to park and then walk to Tijuana. Reid stayed asleep when we put her into her stroller, through the walk to and then through the floor to above-head turnstiles that consitituted crossing the border into Mexico. In fact she slept for at least 45 minutes in the country she hasn’t been in since she was at 6 months gestation. There were many stalls, most of which sold the same things and most of these I suspect were made in China, few looked even remotely related to life in Mexico. I bought a bowl of mixed fruit from a sidewalk vendor, chopped right there in front of me and also some candy on the hope that it turns out tastes good since I don’t read Spanish. Reid woke up in time to eat a bit of fruit, including the cucumber which was included with the mango, pineapple, melons and coconut. There was also some other white fruit that tasted somewhat like a potato and might have been one, actually but Reid wasn’t interested in it. I bought Reid a dress that looks that might be hand made and I hope it was actually made in Mexico and also that it fits. We went to MacDonald’s (of course, there was a MacDonald’s) to use the bathroom. The fellow who unlocked the door for us said I was supposed to show a receipt but he cut us some slack since Reid is small, I think. I tried to buy ice cream cones at the outside wicket but the server refused my $20 bill. When I asked for change at the main counter, the man told me that it was too big a bill to use for a 60 cent cone. I hadn’t looked at the sign carefully enough and/or thought through the peso to dollar conversion. With cones in hand, we went to join the line to cross back. It took about an hours to get from the corner we started on up to the Customs agents. Reid coloured on a receipt I found (I didn’t have a regular piece of paper but I did have crayon) and spent quite a while bonking Aunt Karin on the head with an empty water bottle and a bit of time being bonked by her. This time, the Customs fellow looked at our passports but not at the permission to travel note. After our documents were inspected, we had to put our purses, bags, etc. through an airport-type x-ray machine. I’m not sure why we had to but since ours went through without notice I guess it doesn’t matter. Without any proper planning, it ended up that we had parked close to the exit of US Customs. While we felt like we’d had to walk forever to get across to Mexico, we were ever so glad to be close to the car at the end of the day.

Once back in San Diego, I picked up my conference material and then we found a place to park in the Historic Gaslamp District. I’d like to say we ate at one of the unusual restaurants we walked by but we went to TGI Fridays. I read one story to Reid as we waited for supper but she was starting to fall asleep and so I had to stop reading. I pulled out the playdough since it seemed a bit more active and when that became old, Aunt Karin stepped up. And taught Reid to blow the straw wrappers across the table. Now, that’s a skill that a parent might never think to pass along. Thank goodness for extended families! Reid loved this new game and stayed awake until our food came. I couldn’t persuade her to try any steak but she did eat at least a cup of cooked broccoli and she drank milk. We went back to the car, put Reid into her pull-up and pajamas and headed back to our room. For once though, we didn’t have to travel on one of the famous California freeways and Reid was still awake when we got back. Soon enough, Reid and I were asleep and if Karin was up long, we didn’t know it.

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