The munchkin often talks about “zooseums,” and I mistakenly thought that it was simply her word for “museum,” so early in our time in San Miguel I told her about a “zooseum” (gallery, actually) I’d been in that I thought she’d like. We all went there and she looked around at the colorful art and said, in a voice that was made somehow more heartbreaking by its simplicity and lack of drama, “I thought we were going to see animals.” My maternal guilt-meter went off the scale. I’d deprived my child of her beloved Coyote Point for six months, plus I’d misled her into thinking she was about to see otters! Joy and I both rushed to tell her that there’s a great zoo in Mexico City and we’d go there soon.

So Sunday we took the long-awaited trip to the zoo in Chapultepec Park. The munchkin did enjoy the zoo very much, but I think in the end the highlight of her day was not the polar bear or hippo or even the terrifyingly agile snakes she adored, but the Spider-Man (-Men, I should say) who hung out in a booth along one of the park pathways and shook her hand. Here they are, only asking 10 pesos each for the photo, with a lesson in the proper hand position for web-spinning thrown in for free.

I’m ambivalent about zoos, to put it mildly. No matter how nice the enclosures (and this one’s are very good), they’re still cages, and the only kind of zoo I could feel 100% happy about would be populated entirely by animals who couldn’t survive elsewhere. (In fact, most of Coyote Point’s animals, and all of their mammals, were found injured and would die if released to the wild.) But it is still amazing to see them so close. And the Chapultepec Park zoo costs . . . zero. Yep, absolutely nothing. Incredible.

The approach to the zoo had approximately ten zillion things for sale besides photo ops with Spider-Man. Shoes, junk food, a skyscraper of cotton candy . . .

(all three photos by my multitalented spouse, Joy Morgenstern)

Our other visit on Sunday was to El Museo de Arte Moderno. The munchkin (who had a hard time the whole week) was melting down at that point, so we didn’t get to spend much time in the exhibit that interested me most, on the creation of Mexican identity. That’s travel with kids for you, even one who has remarkable museum-staying power for a three-year-old. In fifteen years we’ll come here with her and she’ll want to spend more time in museums than we can stand, plus she’ll want to race us to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. Actually, she did suggest going to the top, but I thought a few steps were enough.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Teotihuacán was Day 3, so I’ll write more about it tomorrow.