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AmaZOOnico Day 58 – 63 – Week 6 in the Jungle

March 5-10 2011

Week 6

What the???
Our volunteer house is 2 separate living areas connected by a walkway and the bathroom, as Murphy’s Law dictates, is on the other side of the walkway. Add to this the copious amounts of water we drink during the day to stay hydrated and that equals midnight runs to the bathroom. On this particular night there was one of our typical mammoth storms with rain, thunder, lightening and much rain. As I headed out on my usual 1am potty run I opened the door to see a large furry shape sitting on the walkway. Once I recovered from a mild heart attack, I realised it was just Luka the Liana Lodge dog. He ended up sleeping in my room that night and then took a liking to it and often showed up around once a week after that. The best part is that Liana Lodge would send a canoe to pick him up, so there is also the chance he just liked the free ride.

Carnival
Carnival is a 4 day national holiday all over South America. It involves lots of fiesta, drinking, eating and general merry making. For us at AmaZOOnico it means hundreds of visitors a day, mostly Ecuadorians. The first day was reasonably quiet, but from Sunday we were swamped. A tour almost every 30minutes. Mostly it was Spanish speakers which left the volunteers who could not cover tours to do the feeding and cleaning. But even though it means more work, it also means a much needed influx of money for the refuge.

The Tuesday of Carnival we got to go enjoy it. We headed out around 5.30pm after work and caught a canoe to Ahnu (15min up the river). Iho, one of our Kichwa volunteers, lived in Ahnu and his grandfather had agreed to let us sleep in his house (which was a mansion by local standards). Then we headed up one of the 2 streets located in town to the main fiesta site. Within a few minutes we had been doused with canned foam, covered in powdered paint and flour and it didn’t take long before we were all sprayed with beer.

We danced, ate and drank all night and had a blast. It felt great to be out with everyone away from the refuge and being covered in powder and foam to the point of not recognizing each other just made it all that much better. It also turns out that I am fairly good dancer when it comes to Latin music and had a fair number of people to dance with. Around 12.30am Sarah and I headed back to the house and the others followed an hour later. At some point someone put a blanket over us. At 6.30am we had to wake up and try get a canoe back in time to start work at 7am. We pulled in at 7.05am, brushed our teeth and went straight to work. I spent all my tours saying “I am sorry for the purple hair and skin, but we were at carnival”. It took 3 days to get the paint off my skin and 2 weeks to get the purple out of my hair.

Tena bound
I might have had to work the day after Carnival but I also got to finish early and head to Tena. I took 3 warm showers and still was covered in paint. The combination of yellow and purple around my neck made it look like someone had tried to throttle me. It would take many more showers before the color came out. And I would repeat the experience in a heartbeat.

Stay tuned for more adventures in the jungle

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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AmaZOOnico Day 50 – 57 – Week 5 in the Jungle

Feb 24 – March 4 2011

Week 4 in the jungle

Thunder and lightening very very frightening
After 7days on the week before I was able to enjoy 2 days off in Tena. the second day there was blisteringly hot and just thinking of running errands made you feel quite exhausted. But I had promised numerous people to bring back essentials like chocolate and cigarettes. I also need to pick up a large amount of vet supplies with all the injuries we had to clean. After running a few errands the heat started to turn into a humidity and a storm was building. This caused internet to be a bit spotty at the hostel so I headed to Cafe Tortuga and worked on email as a fantastically wild intense storm moved in. I have always loved storms and this one was a doozy.

MEAT!
I had been craving a steak for a few weeks now and decided to veer away from my usual pizza and try a meat platter at the place attached to the hostel. It was good, although the 1/4inch thick steak was like old shoe leather and the sausages had a weird flavor. When my plates were collected she commented on why I didn’t want the salad, I just smiled sheepishly. But next time I will return to the pizza. The steak can wait till I can find a decent steakhouse somewhere, most likely San Francisco.

Return and first swim in the river
After finally reaching the point of recovery it was time to return to the refuge. When I arrived it was perfect timing for a swim in the river with one of the teachers at the school. We put on our bikinis and headed down the path 15min along the bank to where we could jump in and float down the river. Due to all the rain the river was very high and it was a little nerve racking trying to get into it. But once in you just floated with the current, keeping a sharp eye out for the exit otherwise you might float all the way down. It’s also great exercise as you can swim against the currnet but you don’t actually get anywhere. The water is constantly brown from all the sediment, but as far as everyone knows there is nothing dangerous in it. A few of the locals use dynamite to fish and that has limited the number of things that bite. the best part was that when I went to take my cold shower, it almost felt warm because my body temperature had been lowered by the river swim. This is an important thing to remember in order to survive the last 4weeks of cold showers.

Dealing with monkeys
Tamia, one of our young wooley monkeys, is often a real pain in the you know what. He got his name, which means rain from above, because he has a delightful habit of peeing on you when you are cleaning his cage (luckily I have avoided this priviledge, so far). He was raised by humans his first few months and has a considerable attraction to children. For this reason he remains in his cage until after the school has let out. However, on this particular day, I had a group with a large number of American teenagers and they were exactly what Tamia wanted. I had to constantly pick him up and throw him a short distance away, he usually beat me back. On more than one occasion there was a concerned “Kathy, Kathy”, as he attached himself to a students leg. Its really hard when you have to get aggressive with him, but if you are too soft then thinks it is a game. Luckily we got through the tour without anyone freaking out and in the end they loved it. But Tamia had to go back in his cage, much to his very vocal disapproval.

Discovering my cookie power
Upto this point there is a lot of groaning when I attempt to make bread or even when I make dinner. Usually I am a fairly good cook, but for some reason bread from scratch is not my forte and I am nervous of over spicing the food. On a day off I decided to make cookies and discovered I have the power. Sarah (Canada) gave me her fool proof recipe and boy did I get a lot of “moi rico” (very delicious) comments. After that volunteers started requesting cookies from me. Muwhahahaha so good to discover a niche that you are good at. Please see recipe below (note this is part of the reason I didn’t loose as much weight as I hoped).

Sarah’s Jungle Chip Cookies
1 cup butter – beat it
2 eggs – combine and beat
1 teaspoon vanilla – combine and beat
2-3 cups sugar (white and or brown) – combine and beat
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour

Mix all together and add lots of chocolate chunks. Bake at around 200 C for 15min.

New Volunteers
Woohoo I am no longer the newby. 2 girls from Germany arrived with a friend of theirs. It is great to get new blood and to have people who are happy to speak English. Yvonne doesn’t speak much Spanish so we started practicing together. Nora is pretty fluent in Spanish so she will have no problem. Nicole, their friend, is just staying for a few days but we got on immediately.

Isla Anaconda
Monday is my day off and also my 1month anniversary here at the refuge (can’t believe how quickly it goes). So after the 7am meeting I asked about tours at Liana Lodge (volunteers get them free). There was one leaving in an hour and I had to hurry to get there as it was at least a 15min walk through the jungle to the lodge. I made certain of instructions and even got a few different versions of the same thing (I have a habit of getting lost). Then headed down to get ready and see if Nicole wanted to join.

We headed into the jungle and started walking, the trail was reasonably well marked but there are few sketchy spots where logs don’t quite form bridges and rivers overflowing paths. At one river the path split and for the life of me I could not remember which way. So I sent Nicole to the left along the river and I went right. After about 10 min I realised my path was most likely the wrong path and headed back. It turned out Nicole had been calling me for 5min as she had met someone who pointed her on the right path. The jungle truly absorbs all sound. We made it to Liana lodge just in time and then had to wait almost an hour for the tourists to get ready, Murphy’s law.

Isla Anaconda is the island just across the river and takes about 2min by canoe. We were tacking onto a group of Swiss school kids and it was quite amusing to watch them in the jungle. Our guide showed us yukka fields, and papaya groves, and many other things that make up island life. We ended the tour at one of the houses where we were given a demonstration of how they make yukka chicha. Chicha is a kind of drink that the locals make out of a variety of different fruit and vegetables and if left to ferment becomes a fairly potent alcohol.
Then the kids were able to practice their blowgun skills and we were all treated to ripe cacao, tastes a lot like candy (if only it tasted like chocolate).

We were able to hitch a ride back to AmaZOOnico on the canoe rather than walking. When I got back I had to admit I almost got us lost, and Michael (Manager) said “I told you to follow the river”. Oops, well I won’t get lost again.

Baby surprises
As one of the long term volunteers, part of my job is to train new volunteers. So it was on a bright Monday morning that I took Yvonne and Nora on big tour lugging the heavy buckets on the long trail. Our final stop is the capuchin monkey cage, Yvonne and I watched the monkeys as Nora ran back to get another bucket for compost. I noticed that one of them had something around its neck, at first I thought it was a piece of debris, then I suddenly realised what it was… “Is that a baby??”. Indeed it was, still with its umbilical cord. I ran up to the office and said we had a baby in the capuchin cage, Sarah (head volunteer) and Joelle (manager), both sounded surprised, Michael (manager) just said “yes yes” and went back to work.

The hard part was the decision of what to do. We really only had 2 options to remove or to leave but both came with serious consequences.

To remove – involved risking us and the baby in trying to catch the mother, the males can be aggressive. Even if we were able to remove them there was a high chance she would reject the little one.

To leave – meant the risk of the mother not knowing how to feed or raise (she was brought up by humans) or the males attacking and killing the baby.

We decided the lower risk was to leave the baby, it was also the more natural option we had to choose from.

The upside is that it appeared the alpha male, dubbed Stompie for his lack of tail, was the father and this meant extra protection for the baby.

Being the only native English speaker
As our volunteer numbers have dwindled it suddenly ended up with me being the only native English speaker and therefore the main person to do such tours. Of course this also meant a whole lot of English tours arriving. I was in the process of sorting out a group of 25kids into 2 groups when a group of 19 adults arrived. In the end I had to take the adults and the kids had to have Spanish as they were actually an English Language school and so understood Spanish. We usually try cap the number of people in a group to 15, but without any options I was going to have to manage the larger group. I realised this wouldn’t be too much of a problem when I was gathering everyone inside for the intro and asked a couple smoking outside to join us. The one replied “don’t worry you have a loud voice we can here you from out here”…

Couches, being shushed and fairwells
Lukas (Holland) had made us a very impressive looking couch over the past week and was installing it as it was his last day. I was heading to Tena so went to hang out a bit. We were discussing the couch when Michael (manager) came in and asked Lukas to round the edges of the one arm as “the drunk people will break themselves”, I tried to say we could wait and see but he turned to me and said “shhhh, I, am talking now”. All I could think to do was sit down on the couch and say “yes sir”. 2minutes after he left Lukas and I nearly wet ourselves laughing.

I truly hate goodbyes, especially when it is someone you have become good friends with. Lukas was always there with a supportive word in the first month and I was really going to miss him. But that is part of the double edged sword of travel, you meet great people but you have to say goodbye.

Stay tuned to hear about our adventures with the 4 day national holiday, Carnival, which is really 4 days of partying.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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AmaZoonico: Days 32- 35 – week 2 in the Jungle

Feb 6th to 9th 2011

Week 2 in the jungle
After the mammoth party the night before, that rivaled the nightly party at the local Kichwa community across the river (we regularly go to bed listening to dance beats thumping through the forest), the revelers rolled out of bed and put on their gum boots. Today I repeated front tour in the hopes that I would have it memorized and able to do it alone on the next round.

English tours
As my main language is English and there isn’t much call for Korean or Afrikaans tours, there are often days when I never have tour. Then again there are days where I have tours back to back. My first tour went off rather well and I was feeling really good about myself…until I went for lunch and one of the volunteers told me all my info was incorrect. I explained I had followed the information we had been given and she said well that was wrong too. Apparently since we change animals so often the booklet often gets out of date, but the information about the general animal is not wrong its just the story about that precise animal that might be different. Other volunteers just laughed and told me it was fine as long as the biological info I was giving was correct.

Danger Will Robinson Danger
Sarah, the head volunteer, had a little intro with me, much more in depth and useful compared to my initial one. She told me about all the different duties and chores we have as volunteers (such as basura/trash and cleaning banos/bathrooms), she also gave me more info on the tours and day to day life. Then we got down to the nitty gritty and the dangers of life in the jungle. These included the following:
– try not to scratch itchy bites as they could become infected
– if you get diarrhea let it run its course but if it continues past 2 weeks tell management
– beware of scorpions, always check your shoes
– tarantulas are scary but not dangerous
– and finally beware of snakes, especially the Eckies, but never fear you have at least 7hrs to live if you are bitten and the hospital is only 2hrs away… Why does that not instill confidence in me??

Sunday Meetings
Our schedule is 7am to 5pm 7 days a week, even on Sundays, although it would be nice to have an early day off. Oh well one of the joys of volunteering. As it was Sunday it was also the “Volunteer Reunion”. Our weekly meeting to decide on duties and days off. At 5.15pm we all filtered in (I had tried to quickly jump in the shower and was still changing when my name was yelled – oops late for the first meeting). Then we went through all the happenings of the week, any problems, any news and finally the list of duties. Sarah calls them out and we all raise our hands quickly if we want it or look in the other direction hoping we aren’t made to do it. Finally days off rolled around, we start with special requests and then from one side of the table we name off a preference, it then returns back to name your second preference. Sometime you are lucky and it works out, sometimes you get stuck with 2 weeks of days off close together and 7 days on or the like.

Monday Meetings
On mondays we have a 7am AmaZoonico meeting with the volunteers, teachers, the trail guides and the big boss (Remigio). This is all done in Spanish and so I spent most of it looking like I was watching tennis as the conversations flew over me at great speed. I had been warned I would have to give an introduction in Spanish and I had been practicing my lines for 2 days. All of a sudden I realised everyone was looking at me expectantly and my introduction was due, caught off guard I sputtered out something resembling Spanish which included my name, age and where I was from. Then the meeting continued. Afterwards Sarah gave me the headlines which took 2minutes after an hour long meeting.

Mono Tour (aka Monkey Tour)
Today I start learning the ropes, so to speak, of Mono tour (Mono is monkey in spanish). The tour includes:
Small monkey table – (where all the wild squirrel monkeys and Beata and such eat) clean, wash and place new food
Big monkey table – same as above but bigger in size.
Aves 1 (bird cage 1) – clean and feed and try avoid being buzzed by the blue headed parrots
Capibaras (worlds largest rodent) – toss in new food

Herman (woolly monkey) and Lyria (agouti) – pull door closed (Herman has women issues) clean and feed


Johan and Mea (spider monkeys) – pull door closed (Johan has male monkey aggression and tries to get out to kill any other male monkey) feed and clean

It is one of the shortest tours and the easiest. It usually means you get to clean the bodega, food prep room, when you are done but that is all good.

Dehydration
Dehydration is a big problem when you are working in the heat and humidity and I got an up close and personal introduction to it during this week. I had been drinking all morning but then had 2 tours back to back, followed by food prep and a feeding. The sun had come out and that is when it becomes blisteringly hot and all the sweat dries so you don’t even realise you are losing moisture.
At the end of the feeding I felt like I was on the verge of collapse, a headache was thumping, I just wanted to tear off my clothes and stand under a cold shower (I never WANT to have a cold shower) and I was beginning to feel like I was going to throw up. Toki took one look at me and told me to go rest. I ended up curled up under my mosquito net all day drinking electrolyte water and trying to avoid the urge to cleanse my system.
The next day it appeared that everyone had known how sick I was and were asking how I was feeling.

Note to self: always carry a bottle of water and drink from it continuously.

Martin
Poor little Martin! He is a woolly monkey that has a neurological problem, his right side doesn’t work too well and he acts just like a human 2yr old in that he puts everything in his mouth. This often results in him being sick and having diarrhea. On this day Lukas and I had noticed him huddled in a corner acting very strange so we had reported it to management. Alejandra (a local biologist who works at the center) called me to help check him out. Since he lives with Herman (the one with women issues) we had to be very careful, but luckily there were no problems and we got Martin out the cage before Herman showed any interest.

He was in poor shape, with a large gash on his shoulder and severe diarrhea. It didn’t help that it had been pouring with rain all day and so he was soaked to the bone and very cold. We had to try shave the area which even in his weakened state, he still managed to squirm and wiggle. Then lidocaine and finally stitching. He was not very happy and screamed most of the time, its too dangerous to put him under anesthetic for a simple procedure, but I think he would have preferred it. Eventually we got it all stitched up and settled him in to one of the cages at the bodega with a nice hot water bottle to keep him company.

So this is the rainy season
Well you never would have guessed but it rains a lot in the rainforest. Usually there is a shift in the wind and you can almost count it off as a sudden deluge of water falls from the heavens. During this week it appeared as if the rainy season had hit with some intensity. A large tree had fallen on the laundry area and involved much pulling and hauling to remove it and left us all soaked to the bone. Also a piece of bamboo had fallen like a javelin and almost pierced the front cage that houses Kinti and Tamien (woolly monkeys), all very exciting, in a manner of speaking. Doing feeding tours in the rain is one thing but then you also have to lead tourists around in the rain…thats when you know you are committed and very wet. At one point you consider going to change but you are going to be drenched within 5minutes anyway (even a rain jacket/poncho doesn’t help as you sweat so much its like its raining inside) that you end up weighing being comfortable for 5minutes and wasting a pair of clean dry underwear. Usually we just end up sitting it out in soggy clothes and praying for 5pm to arrive so we can dry off.

Beata and biting
I had been told many times that Beata, the spider monkey, did not have any teeth so it was ok if she tried to bite you when you had to shoo her away or pull her off someone. We don’t want to encourage her to get too used to hanging onto people, as it could be dangerous. So when I came out with my tour and found Beata draped around one of the guides (who I had just told not to touch Beata) I did as I was told. You grab her hand and unwind her from the person. Her reaction to this was equivalent to a 5yr old being caught with candy and being made to give it up. She creamed blue bloody murder and bit me on my hand and hip. Turns out she does have teeth, just not very big ones. Luckily it didn’t pierce the skin but I did have a fairly cool bruise on my hip for a week. My tour looked quite shocked at this, but being the professional I am… I was able to remain calm and explain the reasonings (meanwhile I was cursing inside and sayings some fairly unpleasant things to all those who said she didn’t have teeth).

Ending the week in Tena
My week ended with another trip to Tena. I was absolutely exhausted and just went and checked in, showered and had dinner. Part of me wanted to be social and there was even a group of fairly good looking English lads, but consideration was as far as it got. Flirt with the boys or bed, screw that bring on the bed and sleep!!

Stay tuned for more adventures and more poop!

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Tena to AmaZoonico: Days 27 to 31 – Week 1 Jungle Time

Feb 1st – 5th, 2011

Getting there
At the appointed time on the appointed day I headed out to find my bus. Turned out to take me a lot quicker than I had thought and gave me a 40min wait till departure. When the bus arrived I jumped in and was thrilled to see that I could get the seats at the door, what a score, air and I can see where I was going. 5minutes later I noticed two very confused looking Ecuadorians behind me looking at their tickets. What do you know, we have assigned seats! I apologised profusely and made my way near the back to seat 18 aisle. no air and no way of seeing where I was going. Well I waited and sweated a young boy came through selling some kind of frozen popsicle, the best 10cents I ever spent!

Baby Monkey
Surprisingly the bus left at precisely 2.30pm and we were soon on our way at top speed (which I think is the only speed). I had seen a few people with boxes of chicks getting on the bus and was not surprised by the cheeping sound coming from the family next to me. I did feel sorry for the poor, strange looking black chick that the young boy had a vice like grip on. It was particularly strange that it appeared to have a long tail… I then realised it was not a chick at all but a baby monkey.
The family saw my reaction and let me hold it, for the entire bus ride. He was tiny, barely the size of my palm, it sounded like he was only 15 days old and his eyes were just open. He clung to me and made cheeping sounds looking for safety.

I have since found out that it is a Chichico monkey or Tamarin monkey. They are the 2nd smallest monkies in South America. This was a Saddleback Tamarin. Black with a white moustache. Too cute and so in need of its mother and mothers milk. At one point it made its way up my shoulder and under my hair where it clung to me for dear life.

As the trip progressed I tried to convince the family to let me take the baby to the refuge with me, but through broken Spanish I was able to get from them that it was their sons pet and they couldn’t take it away from him… $30! Number 1 I didnt want to encourage the selling of wildlife and 2 I didnt have $30 on me. So unfortunately at the designated sign of Puerto Rio Barantilla I had to return the poor thing back to the family knowing, full well, that it would unlikely survive. A very sad start to my volunteering. I wish I could have done more.

Arrival
Moving on to happier topics, I found the very big sign announcing I was at the location, went through the big metal gates and down the bank to the left to find my canoe…not waiting there for me.

Mmmm what to do, sit and wait was all I could think of. It was quite pleasant at the river but after 15min I started getting concerned.

Then low and behold a canoe appeared, woohoo, I grabbed my bag and set off to the waters edge, just as the canoe pulled up, the kids got out and told me they were off duty. Ok then guess thats not my canoe! As they were walking away another canoe appeared coming from the opposite direction and they pointed at that one. Ok then here we go this must be my canoe, I shouted : AmaZoonico: and they stared at me as they motored past… But luckily there seemed to be mutual agreement that the gringo (foreigner) looked quite pathetic and they came and picked me up. This wasnt the tourist canoe but a work canoe and no one jumped out to help me put my bags in. Eventually one realized they might be there forever if they left it up to me and took one of them. Then we were motoring down the river, me balanced precariously on the edge of the boat (it was full of bamboo so nowhere to sit).

When I arrived at the “dock” to AmaZoonico I was met by one of the long term volunteers. Pascal is from Germany and has been here for almost 6mths, he will stay for a year. He showed me to my room and gave me a debriefing in the kitchen. When he handed me the keys he said the short one was for the kitchen the other for the bar/curio shop (it took me over a week to realise the key lengths were the same but very tops of the keys were different lengths). When he gave me my sheets, stating “I think they are clean”, that was the end of the briefing and I left to settle in my room a little bewildered. My roommate is Karyn from Germany and is very quiet but has a lovely personality and is a very hard worker. She will leave in 2 weeks.

I wasn’t feeling so well and by the time dinner arrived I had a splitting headache and had already thrown up once. By the time I went to bed, unable to eat the pizza they had made, I had thrown up twice more. Brought on by dehydration with a touch of stress added into it.

Day 1
Waking at 6am, feeling much better, I got dressed and wondered what to do. There was some fresh bread for breakfast and someone gave me some jam (we have personal stashes of food that become very important). Then I went upstairs (a total of 75) looking for Celine (France) who had already gone upstairs to start.

Finally finding her she showed me where the Bodega (food prep room) was and had me start cutting up choritos (small bananas) and platanas (plantains). It was all very confusing and there was no set system really. To start off I was following “Big Tour”, what a way to start, you have at least 6 buckets full of food (which is difficult when there is only 2 of you, luckily with me there was 3), and you walk the majority of the loop through the refuge, up and down numerous stairs. My biggest problem (other than the weight of the buckets) was that due to my height the buckets kept hitting the stairs as I walked, needless to say I have an array of interesting bruises.

Big Tour includes:
-Peccaries (wild pigs) that get lots of yucca
-Aves 2 (bird cage with macaws and parrots) that get lots of fruit. One of the macaws tried to redo my hair with its beak.
-Kinkajou cage 1 involves cleaning in the morning, food in the afternoon
-Jaguarundi (a feline that can jump 4m to catch a bird) feed meat and clean cage
-Kinkajou and agouti cage – clean and feed
-Pond – feed tilapia and turtles
-Capucin monkeys – clean and feed while they yell insults at you
-Ocelot cage (felines) – walk to check perimeter and check electric fencing in the morning, lob pieces of meat over fence in the afternoon.

All very exhausting at the end of it and in the heat and humidity even more so.

Our day lasts from 7am till 5pm, there is a lunch at noon, but we have to stay up in the general area in case a tour comes in. This makes for a very long day in sweaty, dirty clothes trying to avoid being bitten by the sand flies. But all in all its great fun.

Day 2
On big tour again, new people do each tour at least 2 days in a row. Today was also “bebidas”, which means we have to take the empty bottles down to the canoe in preparation for new drinks arriving the next day. This is exhausting work, going up and down stairs with cases of empty bottles. At least I thought so until it was up and down with cases of full bottles.

Beata
Today I managed much better and dare say, may even be getting used to the heat a little. It was much like yesterday with chopping of fruit, cleaning of cages and feeding of animals. I did get to meet Beata, a spider monkey that lives at the center. It was quite a memorable introduction as she managed to get into the kitchen and we had to try get her out before she got into the food. She has an injury or deformity and is so used to humans that she will never be released, so she lives with us here. But it is very important that we don’t hand feed her or try and get her to sit with us, in fact we have to discourage her seeking attention as much as possible as it could cause potential problems with tourists.

Strings
I have hit a popular note with the volunteers due to my strings and making of bracelets (thank you hippies in Coffee Bay, South Africa, who taught me). I am even making some to donate to the shop to sell for the center. When I pulled them out I immediately had numerous orders and after a week am still trying to catch up on everyones. I even sold a couple of my fancier ones ($5 plus a bar of chocolate) to them.

Day 3 (the dreaded thursday)
On thursdays and mondays we have fruit delivery. This means lugging huge bunches of bananas, platanas, bags of papayas (pawpaws) and a variety of other fruit from the canoes to the Bodega and up the 75 stairs. My first attempt was a bunch of bananas and by the time I reached stair 68 I was seeing stars and battling to breathe. Toki (germany) luckily came along and grabbed it from me. I crumpled into a pile on and found myself shaking and crying. Note to self, start small. I managed another 2 trips with smaller bags of fruit and then focused on tidying the bodega.

Front Tour
It was also the day I started learning a new tour. Front tour is much shorter and has more variety. It includes:
– toucans – clean and feed avoiding the one that likes to bite your rubber boots
– Kinti and Tamien (baby woolly monkeys) need to have their enclosure cleaned and disinfected, all the time avoiding tamien who likes to pee on people
– Tamarin monkey is one of my favorites, she is super cute and does great acrobatics for you when you bring the food.
– Mono Loco (crazy monkey) is a capucin with rather severe mental issues and is kept alone, which doesn’t help his nervous behavior. We hope to neuter him and introduce him to the other capucin cage (we hope this will make him less aggressive)
– Barizo (squirrel monkey) – clean and feed, also super cute.
– Paca – walk up steep hill and throw food in, we are not sure if he is there but something eats it so we feed.

Day 4
Am very excited as I get to go to Tena today, but first I have to survive another front tour and today is also Comida (human food delivery). Another day of lugging heavy, bulky things up the stairs from the boats up to the kitchen, really wish there was another way.

Tena
I was told I could leave at 3.30pm and get ready and the canoe would pick us up at 4.15pm. I got down and the others going said it would be there at 3.45pm….ahhh communication issues. Tossed on clean clothes (no time to shower), grabbed my stuff and went to get the canoe. It came at 4pm (go figure). When we got to the bus stop there was virtually no traffic and no bus coming from the direction we needed so we started walking. After an hour and 3km (didn’t matter missing the shower anymore) we were finally able to hitchhike and squished the bunch of us with another family in the back of a tiny pickup. It sounded like there was road issues a way back and everyone was help up, so we were very lucky to get this guy.

As I have been told hitchhiking is very safe here and the biggest danger is being killed in a car accident. Considering the speed limit is a suggestion, and extra fast is the only way with the cars usually driving in the middle of the road and honking as they come around the bend, I once again became fairly religious. But we made it to Tena about the same time the bus would have got there had it been on time.

Dinner, shower, sleep
There was a major festival going on in Tena with loud party music and fireworks. But Karyn, who had joined me, and I were only concerned with dinner and then shower. Afterwards I skyped the parents and then, both exhausted we went to bed, my bed being hard as a rock and hers being soft as a feather, we both assume the top bunk must have been just right.

Errands
the next day we ran errands, picked up supplies, checked emails (I didn’t get a chance to update blogs unfortunatley), and general administrative stuff. Turns out the late night entry into our room was Sara (canada) our head volunteer. She headed back early that morning.
While we were in the store we bumped into Lukas (Holland) who had come to town for the day to pick up supplies. Later on we got our tickets for the bus, picked up our wonderfully clean laundry and hung out till it was time to leave.

Party all night long
When we returned on the bus we got to canoe point and discovered there was no canoe… this seems to be a trend. Victor who lives there and usually takes us back was no where to be found, luckily Lukas had a phone and called in an emergency pick up from Liana Lodge, much to our appreciation as we did not favor hacking through the bush to get to the center.
Tonight was a huge fairwell party for 3 of the volunteers, and the music blared until 3am. I was in bed at midnight. Another exhausting day over and new one starting in a few hours.

Stay tuned for next week!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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