Today we got a relatively early start to make it Parque los Ocarros before driving to our friends’ finca for lunch. The Parque, set amidst tropical forest, is basically a rehabilitation center/zoo for animals found in the Llanos. The kids were excited to see the animals – monkeys, leopards, birds, snakes, caiman, pirahnas and many more – but I found the place somewhat depressing. It is clearly underfunded and I did not get the sense that the animals best interests are taken to heart. The monkey cages were small and I could not help but think back to the monkeys we have seen here frolicking in the jungle. I also watched a very nervous leopard pace pack and forth in his cage. When I asked a nearby park attendant what was wrong with him, I was informed that he gets stressed out by people taking photos of him with flash. Unfortunately, I learned this after I took photos of the leopard with flash. Oops!
After leaving the park, we drove to our friends finca about 15 minutes up into the mountains and spent a fantastic afternoon there! The hospitality was gracious, the views were spectacular, the sancocho (typical soup with meat, yucca, potatoes, corn and avocado) delicious and the pool refreshing. We picked lemons and some exotic fruits whose name I have forgotten and hiked to get some spectacular views as my friend shared with me stories of life in this part of the country. We could not have asked for a better afternoon!