Monday, March 8, 2010

A Dinosaur Playground

With the smell of mining dust still in my hair (even after washing it twice!) I decided to spend the afternoon in a more relaxing atmosphere – at the Parque Cretacico (Cal Orck’o) or Dinosaur Park.

We know this thanks to the fine workers at the Francesa cement quarry who in 1994 uncovered a vertical wall bearing the tracks of numerous dinosaur groups. I’m no paleontologist, but even I could make out the tracks criss-crossing the face of the wall and imagine scenarios with the dinosaurs duking it out.Sucre may be a pleasant tourist destination today, but 65 million years ago it was the stomping ground of at least 150 distinct dinosaur species.

To their credit, Francesa has preserved the dinosaur tracks and cordoned them off for curious tourists. According to my friends, you used to be able to walk right up to the tracks and watch them crumble in your hands, but a more defined tourist infrastructure has put an end to that.

The Parque Cretacico now provides an audiovisual introduction to the site (an animated movie), a winding path through life-sized replicas of the giant lizards that occasionally roar, and a viewing platform approximately 100 yards from the wall of dino-tracks. There are coin-operated telescopes to give you a close-up of the prints.

Sure it would be more fun to run through the dinosaurs’ playground, but the Parque Cretacico still provided a lovely was to spend the afternoon. And if you got bored with the dinosaurs, you could always look out in the opposite direction and observe the operations of the cement factory.

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