The Secret Zoo

A few weekends ago my host family invited Will and I to go to the Secret Zoo in Batu with them.  The Secret Zoo is, in fact a zoo, but is definitely not a secret (unless we still don’t know the secret….hmmm).  Anyway, I let my host mom borrow my big travel backpack, she filled it with wet wipes, extra diapers, barbeque chicken, and fried potatoes.  Then we stopped at the mini market and got even more snacks.

Once we got to the zoo, Will was handed the backpack, and I took one of the shopping bags of snacks, and we took turns holding onto a couple of kids.  The zoo was actually pretty nice and probably the most Western thing we’ve done here.  It just opened in 2010.  The biggest difference between this zoo and a zoo in the United States is that people were openly feeding the animals their human food–and this was possible because the enclosures were pretty open.  I had to hold my tongue when someone in our group gave a chimpanzee a potato chip.

When it was time to have lunch, we had to wait a really long time to find a place where we could buy rice–because for Indonesians, unless you’ve had rice, you haven’t eaten…even if an American man is carrying a giant backpack full of food for you.

Anyway, the funniest thing about the day is when I asked Will if he remembered back to a few months ago, when we thought we were joining the Peace Corps to put off doing domestic things and chasing adorable children around.  Instead this was what our our day looked like for Will:

At one point Will handed me a container of wet wipes and said, “This is where I draw the line.”

We actually had a really a really great time and had fun hanging out with my host family and the boys.  I’m really going to miss them!

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4 thoughts on “The Secret Zoo

  1. I remember the way it was with rice in south India. A common polite greeting translated roughly as “have you eaten rice today?”

  2. Loving keeping up with you via your posts. I am glad everyone got out of the zoo trip safely. I went to a similar one in Chile and one of the kids we took along got a monkey bite in the act of feeding. I freaked out thinking of all the possible diseases, but he took it as a total badge of honor and couldn’t wait to get back and brag about it to all the other kids.

    Right on about India and your rice consumption being of interest to anyone you interacted with. I just pretended “rice” meant food in general because it made them so much happier when I answered yes. We waited months for a canteen to open in the Consulate in Chennai, only to find out that the only item on the menu was rice, a different flavor every day.

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