CrocoCun Zoo Review

We first visited CrocoCun back in November 2017, and I was impressed with many aspects of this zoo. If you have never been to it before, prepare for a different kind of zoo experience. It is not going to be like San Diego Zoo!

You won’t find polar bears or penguins at CrocoCun. It is like a giant terrarium for reptiles (and a few mammals too), who live naturally in this tropical jungle climate but were rescued for some reason and cannot survive in the wild on their own. The zookeepers take great pride in providing a safe and comfortable habitat for the animals.

 

FAQ when visiting with children:

What visitor ages are appropriate?

All children can visit this zoo. Babies and big kids alike!

                             (TIP: Bring baby in a carrier or umbrella stroller)

Is the zoo stroller or wheel-chair friendly?

YES. Despite some reviews online, we found the paths to be perfectly wheel-friendly! Paved and ramped throughout the campus, and there are no big hills.

Is the zoo scary for little ones (or squeamish adults)?

No. If you have a fear of reptiles, you can still navigate the zoo without touching any of them. The “scariest” experience is perhaps the “walk through the crocodiles”, whom are well fed (fat and happy), and they are not interested in getting too close to you. They will notice you and rise up when you pass by, but they don’t move towards you.

(TIP: If you are hoping to conquer your fears here, the guides will be more than happy to hold your hand a little, or let you touch a baby croc)

Is there parking?

Yes, there is a parking lot on the south side of the entrance. You can also hop in a taxi and tell them where to go—the zoo is well known.

Are there snacks?

Yep! Snacks for you, and snacks for the animals. You can feed all the animals with a snack pack for a very small add-on price. Even my young kids enjoyed reaching out and feeding the docile animals.

 There is a very nice coffee shop/deli attached to the front of the zoo entrance for people, and there are snacks for purchase inside the lobby and gift shop. We enjoyed fresh sandwiches, salads, and frappes there! There was not a kid’s meal option at the time we visited, but the prices were low enough that I didn’t mind buying a normal entrée for my kids to share.

Are there clean restrooms?

Yes, the restrooms are great, and the entire facility and animal habitats were sparking clean. In fact, it is the cleanest zoo I have ever visited!

What can you find in the gift shop?

The usual souvenirs plus some unique artwork from locals in form of sculpture, painting, and textiles.

What is the best time of day to visit?

We went around 11am, and it was quiet and full of shady trees (no direct sun).

How much time should you plan to stay there?

This zoo has private, guided tours. You cannot wander around on your own. The tour takes 1-1.5 hours, and moves from each exhibit fairly quickly (but they will give you all the time you want to take photos and feed the animals). We never felt rushed, and we never felt tired or bored. It was the perfect timing for two toddlers and catching lunch afterwards!

 

Some of the animals you might see:

Tropical birds, snakes, lizards, monkeys, crocodiles of all sizes, deer, wild dogs, big cats, and more!

Emergencies in Quintana Roo

It happens…When you have children, sooner or later you need a hospital while traveling!

We recently had the opportunity to try out the medical system while staying in Akumal, Mexico when Baby A took a nose dive (while strapped into his stroller) onto a concrete parking lot, from a raised sidewalk. When I picked him up, he was covered in blood, and it looked pretty bad. Every parent knows that sinking feeling you get when you see your kid get hurt, but I know from experience that the most important thing you can do as a parent in these situations is STAY CALM! ok?! Just chill.

After Baby A was cleaned up with a bottle of water, I could tell the bleeding was mostly coming from his mouth. I held tissues onto his gums to stop the bleeding, and he made (what I thought was) a nice recovery! Kids are miraculous sometimes… but not this time. About an hour later we were eating lunch in Playa Del Carmen, and I noticed my little boo boo bear had blood all over his chin and shirt, so we hopped into the car— and drove literally one block away to Hospiten, a local private hospital. It was only a coincidence we were so close to the hospital, but that is most likely the hospital I would have taken him to from Akumal, had the situation seemed worse in the beginning.

There are many hospitals all throughout Quintana Roo, but it can be difficult to know which one is a legitimate emergency center. Some private hospitals are named after the doctor who owns it, or called “clinic”, or “hospital” when it is not actually equipped for a true emergency. I just so happened to have a conversation the day before with a friend who told me about her own experience at Hospiten with her baby, so I knew exactly where to go. If you’re traveling in the area, you will pass by this particular hospital when you drive between Cancun and Tulum. It is easy to spot right from the highway on the southern outskirts of Playa Del Carmen.

I was by myself with the kids that day with hubs out of town for work, so it was just me and two toddlers (one with a bloody face and shirt). The hospital was quiet, and the security guard at the front door helped me in with the stroller. The front desk staff was bilingual, took our insurance information (and explained their policies regarding cash pay), and got us in right away.

RIGHT HERE is where you need to understand something–> if you’re on a vacation, expect to pay a little more for your treatment than the locals. They have a tourist price, an expat price, and a locals price (so I have heard from other moms). All of which are still lower than you would pay in the US. I’m not entirely sure which price we paid that day, but it was not the local’s price. It was comparable to what we would pay at a reasonable urgent care facility in the US. This also considering there was a lot of blood to clean up, a lot of screaming to deal with, and a US mom who did not speak much Spanish. They had to hold the baby down, make a thorough exam, administer medication, and clean everything up afterwards. They did this with understanding and kindness every step of the way, they spoke fluent English to me, and they gave us clear instructions on how to help Baby A recover completely. I personally feel that I paid a fair price. I am happy to report he made a full recovery within a few days, and saved us a lot more money by severing his own lip tie (it would need to have been lasered later in life). Not a method I recommend though…

Baby A at Hospiten, after treatment for severed frenula.

 

Fun With Monkeys

The monkeys of CrocoCun Zoo keeping tabs on the new expat family.

Living in the jungle comes with the occasional monkey shake down… 

These monkeys are from the CrocoCun Zoo in Puerto Morelos (Cancun area). They have been keeping tabs on us since we played in the park behind the zoo earlier in the week, and then we saw them at the zoo. The keepers have named them all, and Yessica here is the ring leader. 

I will be posting a separate bit about the zoo because it is worthy of its whole, special post!

What’s in That Diaper Bag?!

As we travel the Mexican Riviera, we have edited the diaper bag several times. “Strolling around” has a different meaning here than in the US, where the roads can be rough and banos even rougher. When day tripping with small children, my goal is to keep us safe and comfy, but also pack light so we can be flexible if plans change. Here are the essentials that are in my bag right now:

1. Extra onesie. In addition to diapers and wipes, an extra onesie is essential in case of blow-outs. I have learned over the years to use a loose fitting onesie as an extra in case months go by before it is used (it will likely still fit a growing baby). The key is to replace it once used, of course. Traveling with children takes a few extra minutes before you leave your room or rental to make sure you refill those essentials so you don’t get in a bind without them.

2. Wet wipes. This is a small, travel pack of sanitizing wipes that can be used to wipe down high chairs or tables when you go out to eat, or a dirty toilet if you forget number 3…

3. Toilet seat covers. I buy extra large, disposable toilet covers in bulk from Amazon. If they are too small, your potty training tot might rub her legs on a poopy pot (ick!).

4. First aid kit. This is essential for Mexico, where there is rocky terrain, coral reef, hard tile, and concrete everywhere. Little knees and elbows get bumped easily. We never even used a band aid on our youngest until we moved here. Now we have gone through a box in one month, along with large knee patches, medical tape, and a couple travel sized bottles of Neosporin. That’s what’s in the kit: various band aids, antiseptic spray, and a roll of medical tape (I prefer the tan, waterproof foam tape because it stretches over the knee when it moves).

5. Bug repellent. For the kids, we use a local concoction called Maya Bug Repellent, but it needs to be applied often and in large amounts. We brought several bottles of California Baby bug repellent with us, and went through them very quickly. The mosquitoes just bite right through it. We also use OFF on adult legs and feet. There are fleas and sand flies after 4pm, and they need a strong repellent as well. Don’t make the mistake of leaving for the day without your bug spray. UPDATED: As of January 2018, we are only using Picaridin bug repellents now (OFF Family and the natural concoctions did not prove to be strong enough for the mosquitoes, long term).

6. Bug bite itch cream or roller stick. Even with all that repellent, we still get bites. Don’t let a bad itch take away your fun. There are some roller types that contain menthols and ammonia, which work great for adults, but are not safe for small children. Benadryl spray or cream seems to help, and poses less danger. You’ll want to pack these in your suitcase because they are hard to find here.

7. Decoy wallet/ decoy purse. I have both. I use them for different occasions. You want to keep a low profile here so that you do not become a target for theft or extortion. I keep my nice handbags in the states, and I have a small Vera Bradley crossbody with lots of pockets to hold my wallet with one credit card (not debit), and some petty change, or a small wad of pesos for snacks, etc. Most gift shops take credit cards, and they are easier to cancel if your wallet is stolen. A debit card, we are told, can be a source for extortion, where the perpetrator will demand you take it to the atm and make a withdrawal. I just like to avoid any possible targets, especially when my children are with me.

8. An amazing toy. This week it was a lime that baby A found on the street under a tree. For whatever reason this was the most interesting item to him, just second to the ipad (which we do not like, but surely keeps the peace while on longer drives in the car). This lime ended up nearly rotting in my bag, but I found it just in time to throw away. Totally worth every penny (especially since it was free). Other great toys have been teethers with bristles, a singing elephant that speaks Spanish, and a bucket of sand toys (not able to fit those in the diaper bag, but we stow them in the back seat or stroller).

9. Finally, a lightweight cardigan in Mama’s size. Good on those slightly chilly days here during the winter, or an especially powerful air conditioning unit. It doubles as a blanket, sun shade, napkin, etc.

I mentioned diapers and wipes before. You will have no problem finding affordable baby products here in the Riviera Maya, at any grocery store and many corner stores too. The locals love babies, and are very family oriented, so you don’t need to overpack! Stop by the grocery store on your way into town. It will give you the opportunity to see the other great deals to be found here locally.

Location Teaser…

We have been traveling around, staying in different towns for a week or two at a time, exploring the areas we knew we would enjoy (but hadn’t spent enough time to know if we should live there).

A lucky wrong turn while looking for a restaurant landed the kids and me at El Capitan, where the prices were fair, and the food was fresh and delish. You can hear the sizzling of your food being prepared, the smell of fajitas cooking on the grill, a pile of coconuts on the floor nearby, and some local young artists dancing flamenco and playing traditional music. Cars whizzing by on the beach road nearby reminding us of the crazy, fun growth happening in this hip little town that we once fell in love with on a family vacation, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I got a little teary eyed writing this because… it is obvious to me now that we. are. home. Where are we?

https://1drv.ms/v/s!AluaR6I-VHdfhtJardb2PooqYpxsaw

 

At the airport

On our extended layover before continuing onto our new homeland, I thought I would post this video from the airport. Once we got all our bags packed tight into our car, we pulled into the parking ramp at the airport and realized we had no idea how to get all those bags to the gate. In freezing, windy Minnesota weather, Brian ran into the airport and came back ten minutes later with one smart-carte, only to realize it wasn’t going to pull more than a few bags (and we had two strollers and two carseats to schlep as well). So in he went again to run across the airport and get another cart. Meanwhile, both kids went into total meltdown in the backseat. Thirty minutes and two temper tantrums later… we finally all got inside and on the correct level (taking separate elevators in the middle of airport construction resulted in some lost time as well while we relocated Brian). The rest is well, as they say, history! Our six bags turned into nine checked items (because we checked two carseats and the double stroller), and five carry-ons. The first flight was easy and fun, with extra legroom and lots of surprises for the toddler, and spiked lemonade for two worn out parents. Cheers! The journey has just begun…