Leaving Washington.

Last night we went to Boo at the Zoo; a Halloween party amongst the animals. No, truly, there were animals to be seen, I wasn’t referring to one-thousand sugar-soaked children in fancy-dress, Really, I wasn’t.

The kids had a great time collecting a huge range of horribly unhealthy foods. The treats included a lollipop with a light inside it. Imagine children running about in the dark, their cheeks lit from inside as they suck on a lightbulb covered in toffee. Nightmare…

We actually did see some animals and as it was after dark we got to see some of them up close and personal. I was particularly taken with two specimens. First the naked-mole rats. There’s something strangely fascinating about these beast even though they are almost the definition of ugly. I do wonder: if we have some atavistic, base-of-the-spine, genetic reaction to lizards thanks to a time when our ancestors were tiny mammals and lizard-like dinosaurs ruled the world – then perhaps our fascination with naked mole rats indicates that that’s how our ancestors actually looked.

The other animals was the Saki Monkey. What made this especially thrilling was that we’d seen them in the wild a couple of weeks earlier. I have to admit we got a far better look at them in the National Zoo than we did in the wild; but seeing them close up after having seen their cousins leaping from tree to tree in the Amazon was a strange thrill.

Declan and Callum in costume at the zoo

Declan and Callum in costume at the zoo

Today, we spent a long time making our way back up to Newark Airport and then flying to Montreal. We rather staggered into our apartment in Montreal and collapsed in front of the television to watch one of our new favourite shows: Penn and Teller Tell a Lie. For those who don’t know, Penn and Teller are probably the most famous magicians in the world today and their new show involves them presenting a series of amazing things one of which is not true. Today their finale was “Piranhas will not eat you alive”. We all immediately screamed at the TV – “THAT’S TRUE, WE SWAM WITH PIRANHAS THREE WEEKS AGO!”

As a matter of interest, Penn and Teller claim that the whole Piranha as the supreme carnivore thing came about because a bunch of locals put on a show for Teddy Roosevelt who wrote about it his book about his travels in the Amazon. This popularised the whole idea which was then picked upon by movie producers in the 1950s and a whole species of fish got a terribly ill-deserved reputation. That may be true, but for the moment I’m sticking with the story that we swam with a ravening hoard.