RSS

Tag Archives: volunteer travel

Reflections of a Year Abroad…Part 1

2011 was an epic year in so many ways, good and bad. I still can’t believe that I visited 8 countries (9 if I can count Malaysian Borneo separately, I did have to go through immigration) in under 12months.

Ready to Go…

Here are a few flashbacks and memories. The titles are all linked to the first blog entry of that country with a few others scattered around. Hope you enjoy…

Peru

When plans to volunteer in Botswana fell through I felt I needed somewhere else to replace those months before heading to Australia and New Zealand. It’s not like any tickets were bought or anything, it was just something my mind had decided on, there had to be a country or two before. I was at a loss of where until a friend said “don’t you know someone in Peru?”. Why yes I did, a co worker from the Seattle Woodland Park Zoo. Fernando was our imported penguin expert for the new exhibit and all of us summer employees got on really well.

So I contacted him and it was on, Peru was destination 1. I honestly had no idea what to expert, I had never been to South America and the only Spanish I knew was hola. But ever the one to shrug off obvious adversities I booked my ticket the day after my 33rd birthday. Now only 4months and 5 days till I would leave.

Peru was amazing, and I loved every minute of it. Cusco is now one of my favorite cities, although next time I am definitely pre-dosing on the altitude tabs… Man that hit me hard.

Fernando and Me

Machu Picchu was at first unimpressive, just a ruined city in the rain… the the clouds parted and it all became clear why it was so revered as a must see, that and the thought of “what bloody crazy idiot would make his people lug thousands of stones up a mountain side that scares the living daylights out of on the bus ride…and down??”. Seriously, it was breathtaking.

Good Friends: Cathleen and Me at Macchu Picchu

Lake Titicaca, just giggle everytime I say that, was awe inspiring and I would love to go back. However, the port city of Puno was a real dump and I was glad for fellow traveler advice to avoid it as much as possible.

Lake Titicaca Local Kids

The worst thing to come from Peru : The altitude sickness that actually had me bed ridden for a day.

The best thing to come from Peru : A great new friend named Cathleen!

A reason to go back : I haven’t tried roasted guinea pig yet 🙂

Ecuador

I was almost to the point of buying tickets when my mom held out a newspaper article about volunteer travel. It had a 2 sentence blurp about Amazoonico Wildlife Refuge in Ecuador. The part that caught my eye was the minimal cost of $120/month for food and accomodation. Bonus! I dropped them a line and soon had that on the map. Or actually I couldn’t even find the town of Tena on the map, but Ecuador was right about Peru so how hard could it be.

42hours later my bus (with the locked bathroom) pulled into Quito. Have you ever experienced the need to pee so bad that you can’t… Let’s just say when I could finally see through the wall of water in my eyes, I was in love with the loos of Ecuador. At least the one in the daughter’s home of a lady I had met in Spanish class and who was kindly putting me up for a few days.

My two months at the refuge came with high highs and low lows. The first month was tough as I was the only new volunteer, all the others were girls averaging 21 and had Spanish as a common language. By now I think I could almost say my name and ask where the bathroom was. In short it soon became apparent I was back in highschool and … I still wasn’t popular. My amazing volunteer co ordinator, Sarah, took me aside and said “you can leave, or you can stay and it will change your life”. Who am I to argue with authority, I stayed and in that first month got through a good number of books and enjoyed my alone time since group time was in Spanish, which I was picking up quite well.

“Walking” a Monk Saki Monkey

The second month was much better, we had a new cycle of fresh blood, English became the common language, I was a senior volunteer (and ok I admit I love being the one who needs to teach others), and I discovered my gift for making cookies… That pretty much made me popular in high school! It was very hard to leave.

Beata Relaxing at Sunset

At the end of my time in the jungle I went to the ocean and saw blue footed boobies… again another thing that just makes me want to giggle.

The worst thing to come from Ecuador : Struggling with the volunteer dynamics that first month.

The best thing to come from Ecuador : Blue Footed Boobies!! Oh and discovering an inner strength.

A reason to return : Perhaps a chance to see the Galapogos.

Surprise Easter Visit

It turned out cheaper to fly back to the states and then to Australia rather than from Peru to Aus. So I found myself with 8days in the states. I decided to surprise my parents for Easter. Officially the best surprise I have ever pulled off. The first time they were ever speechless.

Australia

Australia and New Zealand were always on my list, part of the reason for this trip was to find a place I might want to live and since they were on the “most likely” list.

My first impression of Australia, especially after 3 months in South America, was “Oh shite!!! I can barely afford a coffee”. I was shocked at the prices and the Aussie dollar was stronger, of course that changed a few weeks after I left… I quickly worked out plans to mooch… I mean visit any friends and family I had, along with sorting work trade with hostels.

Yes my finger is down its throat


Forcefeeding Kookaburra at Currumbin Wildlife Center

Australia ended up being a country of many new experiences:
I attempted work trade at a farm that has now become known as the Looney Farm by all of us who were there.
I saw Koalas, Kangaroos, Platypus and many other strange and wonderful critters.
I saw friends I hadn’t seen in over 10yrs.
I shaved my head for charity.
I swam with manta rays.
I force fed Kookaburras.
I swam in a freezing lake.
It might have been expensive, but I have some amazing memories that are worth every penny.

Carolin and me!!


Carolin and Me on the Day I Shaved my Head for Charity

The worst thing to come from Australia: The cost.

The best thing to come from Australia: Shaving my head for charity.

A reason to come back: Friends and a little town called Coral Bay.

Tonga

I discovered this amazing organisation that spent a month on the island of Tonga every 3months running a vet clinic. I contacted them months before arriving and was super excited. Accommodation was included and there was no fee to volunteer. A great way to experience island life and do something good for the community.

This was a month of extremes, as it turned out there had been a misunderstanding and I went from being a vet nurse to designated pee/poop cleaner and coffee maker. But I had committed to a month and so I pushed through proving my skills on more than one occasion when they needed me to monitor during surgeries when no one else was available. I think one of the biggest problems was that I was there in the middle of a year long trip and to volunteer while reserving my finances, the others were there as a vacation and had money to spend.

My Favorite Puppy

At the same time I met some amazing people, locals and expats (including 4 South Africans, what are the odds) and got the chance to visit one of the outlying islands.

No Matter What, It Sure Was Pretty!

The worst thing to come from Tonga: My treatment by the other volunteers and the organisation.

The best thing to come from Tonga: Fulfilling my commitment and discovering an amazing culture.

A reason to go back: maybe for a vacation and not to volunteer.

I must admit I had a hard time finishing this post for some reason. So many things that go through my mind and writing this entry makes the journey complete. Luckily there are still many more to come.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Australia, Germany, RTW, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Returning to the land of Kiwi’s – days 209 to 212

30th of August to 2nd September 2011

Immigration and cab drivers

Arriving at 1am in the morning and being slightly less compus mentus, especially after having one of my full row seats given to someone else, the fear on my mind was getting through immigration. You may recall that I apparently have similar information, to a person of interest, who the government wishes to talk to! But turned out I had no worries, after joking a bit about the rugby, I walked on through, got my bag and hopped in a cab.

I had exactly $45nz and had estimated it would cost $25. I had a great cab driver and we chatted all the way to Kirsten’s about his days on the boats that ran to Portland, Oregon. As we got closer I noticed we were at $45 and still ticking. In addition to the actual charge there is an extra $7 charge for the airport. At the house hte final charge was $52, but he was sweet and said the $45 was fine. Thank heavens!

Plans Plans Plans

After a rough month it was great having a good friend to bounce ideas off of and figure out what to do next. Its amazing how emotionally draining things can be. I was at the point where I just needed to go and do something fun and not have to worry about costs or transport. Kirsten recommended a tour of the Northland and up to the very point of NZ, Cape Reinga. We looked at just doing a basic bus service up there, at Kiwi Experience and at Magic Bus. Magic won the day as they had exactly what I wanted and included a dolphin tour, sandboarding, Kauri tree museum, visiting the giant Kauris and much more. Normally I would have run in the opposite direction of the cost, but right then and there I didn’t care and it sounded like the perfect trip to get my mind off things. Not to mention that my cheapskate ways now mean that I have a bit extra to do something fun!

So its off to Auckland to stay in the Surf ‘n Snow hostel for a night and then an early pickup Saturday morning. I am so looking forward to this you have no idea.

Look out Northland you are about to be invaded by a Schmidt!!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tonga – Days 178 to 208 cont… ‘Eua island

My Island Escape

My first attempt at hopping on over to an island failed miserably. I was hoping to tag on with the vet and nurse heading over for a part clinic part vacay trip, but it appeared as if the little amoeba’s growing in my stomach had other ideas. I was shaking and sweating and spending a lot of time with the porcelain god. Luckily it only lasted a day but didn’t want to risk a 3hr ferry crossing with a delicate constitution.

However, ‘n boer maak ‘n plan (a farmer makes a plan), and I soon had things sorted for the following weekend. The plan was to leave on the 12.30pm ferry Friday, be picked up by Taina of Taina’s Place and then take the 5am ferry back on Monday.

That morning I woke up feeling like a kid about to go home from boarding school. I was so excited. I had my bags all packed and went to work to get a few things done, before (I hoped) someone could take me to the ferry. In the midst of autoclaving and making kits and folding drapes and still 3hrs before the ferry, one of the group swept in and said they had to run an errand and so I was going now and to get in the car. Wow… ok sure, hang on, just need to , am coming….

All good though, I got to the terminal with 2.5hrs to wait and so settled in to watch them load the ferry. It was not just a passenger ferry but a cargo one too, as everything (particularly toilet paper and diapers apparently) had to be ferried to the island. I managed to ask one of the other passengers if this was the ‘Eua ferry and got confirmation… I hoped.

The Ferry

Later a gentleman in overalls walked up and asked if I was going to ‘Eua, I said yes. He asked if I had a place to stay, I said yes at Taina’s Place. He said “I am her husband, Tei”. Well what do you know, he is also one of the captains. Sweet! I was still a little confused as to where and when I was meant to buy tickets, whether or not it was safe to put my bag on board etc. But watching all the other passengers I decided to at least put my bag of clothes and bag of food on board and then wait and see about tickets.

Cutey with her peanuts

About 1hr before departure time I noticed a lot of people gathering around someone who seemed official. I assumed right and bought my ticket for 27.50 Pa’anga (about $20). The ferry ride would take at least 3 hrs and we would be crossing open ocean at one point. A few minutes later the ticket guy came over to chat with me. He asked where I was from and how long I was staying on ‘Eua. He was kind of cute, especially in his official work sarong (not sure what the actual name is).

Another pa’langi (foreigner) arrived and we started chatting. Then we decided to get on the ferry and secured some comfy seats. But that didn’t last long as we all had to deboard and reboard so they could check our tickets. Only mothers with children could stay. There was much laughter when I asked to borrow one of the babies. We got off and stood right by the gangplank and chatted with the ticket guy. He was so cute and a bit shy speaking English, but it was all good. When we joked about bringing a baby with us next time so we could stay on board he looked shocked, realised we were joking and then started laughing and telling us to stop being bad. Too funny!

Peanuts!!!

Finally it was time to board and we were lucky enough to claim the same seats. Once we were under way we both decided to go sit outside in the glorious sunshine. I had bought a bag of yummy roasted peanuts in their shell and was utterly enjoying myself. After about 40min in the sun though I decided to head inside before I fried. I nodded off for a bit and was woken to much lurching! We had reached the trench and the section of open ocean that could often be rather, exuberant, shall we say. I found it thrilling and would have been out front of the boat if it wasn’t being drenched in water. Instead I stood in the wheelhouse and chatted with Tei and some of the other people. Tongans are so friendly and have an awesome smile. As we crossed the trench one of them pointed out an island that was rising up in front of us and said that was ‘Eua. Higher than all the other islands, it has a wide range of ecosystems and plant life, it is also 1000’s of years older than the others. As we were pulling in to the harbor Tei came and sat outside and we started talking about why I was there. When I mentioned that I was one of the nurses with the vet group the following conversation occurred:
Tei: ahh you can make it so my dogs don’t have babies?
Me: well I just a nurse, not a doctor and I don’t have anything with me.
Tei: don’t worry I have knife and machete!
Me: ahhhh yeah no, am not a doctor.
Tei (with big grin): no worry, I be doctor you be nurse we do it Tongan style.
(I sincerely hope and assume he was talking about fixing his animals…)
All in all it was one of the best 3hr ferry rides I have ever taken and even if I didn’t see any whales it doubled as my whale watching trip.

Getting my sea legs

Captain Tei came and said that Taina should be on her way to pick me up but if she wasn’t there by the time he was done he would give me a ride to the guesthouse. Luckily I only had about 10minutes to wait. Taina is absolute honey, and very welcoming. I soon had a hand full of sweet bread and we were on our way back to the guesthouse. At only 25 pa’anga (about $20) for a dorm room, it is the best price on the island, the next price is over 80 pa’anga for a room at the resort with an ocean view. Taina’s was located in the center of the island which meant no ocean views but walking distance to the jungle hike. She has also been presented with a number of medals by the king, for the best garden on ‘Eua (there is a rumor that it is the only garden, but hey its a medal). In the evening we went to a local highschool reunion we had all been invited to (for some strange reason). For the most part it was rather slow (most of the attendees had started the party at the bar). But near the end there was a fantastic brawl as one lady started beating up another for sleeping with her husband. Ahhh yes the drama, hair was pulled, drinks were thrown, the police were called, ultimately a great night.

Taina's medal winning garden paradise


Taina and me at the reunion

When I went to switch on the light in my dorm room I noticed there was no bulb. One of the guys came to replace it, he came in looked at the empty socket, tried the switch (not sure why), walked under it and then walked out. 1minute later a taller lad came in and screwed in the light bulb (guess I am not the only one with short issues). That night right before bed as I was having a mug of tea I heard a soft meow and looked up to see Phoenix, a very cute orange kitten about 6mths old. She lives in the roof of the kitchen and comes down to beg for food and cuddles. As I was loving her to death, Taina walked past and in true Tongan style said, “You like, you keep”. I was sorely tempted, but restraining a rambunctious kitty on a 3hr ferry ride did not sound promising. Instead I took her with me to bed. After being freaked out at not being in her roof, she figured out what to do and snuggled up next to me in bed. Ahhhhh heaven!

Phoenix

The next day a group of 6 of us went on the 3hr hike to explore. After 4hrs the happy chatter soon turned quiet and after 5hrs we were all dragging a bit. It didn’t help that we spent most of our time slogging through mud and slipping and sliding up and down hills. But after about 6hrs Taina met us and picked us up, thank the heavens. A hot shower and sleep was all I could manage. We figured we had hiked 7km, but it felt more like 17km. I took Phoenix with me to bed again, and she was way more comfortable even nipping out for a bit and returning in the early morning with a purr that was closer to a roar.

Giant Banyon tree, about 200yrs old


The view from the lookout


Smoking Cave - its a VERY long way down

The last day was a Sunday which meant church. We all decided to go. I had been to the Catholic Church on the main island, and it was very grand and austere and Catholic churches all over seem to be. But here the church was small and quaint and the singing was awe inspiring. Without any musical accompaniment the men and women wound their voices together in true harmony and I felt myself quite moved. That afternoon I sat and made bracelets for everyone and then we all had dinner together. After a cup of tea I grabbed “my” kitty and went to bed. Am really going to miss this little flea bag. She is so loving and spunky. But logistically its just not possible to get her across on the ferry and then have to find her a home.

Tei and his youngest daughter


Gas Tank a.k.a Tongan Church Bell


Church

At 4am, those of us heading back on the ferry roused ourselves and got sorted, at 4.20am there was no sign of Tei or Taina. Finally I went and “knocked” at the curtain that was their door. 2minutes later Tei was there and we were off. As we pulled out I saw Taina shoo Phoenix away, she seemed to have tried to follow me. Dramatic pause to blow nose and sniffle

My beautiful Phoenix

The 5am ferry left at 6am (we had to wait for the tide). And as we sailed into the open area that was the trench the sun started rising. It was glorious to be out on the ocean and I loved every minute of it. Not to mention that we had an amazing captain who rode the waves and never once got the front of the boat drenched in water. Nothing quite like waking up to the sun rising over the South Pacific as you relax on the bow of a ferry. Truly spectacular. ‘Eua is definately one of my all time favorite places to be. And if any of you get a chance be sure to stay at Taina’s Place and say hi for me.

Getting My Flirt On

I had to return a week later to the ferry to give Tei the flea and tick medicine along with instructions that I had promised him for his animals. It was the least I could do considering I refused to use a machete to neuter his dogs. Feel free to cringe at the statement, I still do. As I walked up to the dock a young man came up to me with a huge grin and asked why I was there. When I said I came to see Tei he looked disappointed. That’s when I realised it was ticket guy, he wasn’t wearing his official sarong so I didn’t recognise him. He seemed much happier when I said Ihad to drop off medicine for Tei’s animals.

As we walked to find Tei, he asked me when I had got back from ‘Eua. He also said when his boss had to go fetch one of the vets to check his animals he thought it might have been me. Ahhh schucks he had been thinking of me. I don’t care who you are that always makes you feel good. After I finished explaining the medicine to Tei, I headed out. Ticket guy was there with a friend, and he proceeded to ask me where I was staying, how long I was here for, when I left and when I planned to come back. Finally he finished with saying, “well I probably won’t see you again then, so, ummm, good luck with your travels”. There was an awkward moment, as his friend stood and grinned like a cheshire cat, and then I waved and walked away. When I glanced back he had his friend in a headlock… oh to know what had been said after I left.

A South Pacific Sunrise


Final Note

In hindsight there are a few things I would have approached differently with the volunteer program. But if I had to do this month over again I think I would still do it, bad and good combined. I have learnt some valuable lessons (life has never been really subtle when it teaches me a lesson, or maybe its me who doesn’t get the subtle lessons), and met some amazing people. Its not everyone who gets to say:
“I just spent a month in the South Pacific”.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tonga – Days 178 to 208 cont… Umus and markets

O’holei Resort…show and umu

One of our owners happened to run the O’holei Resort and offered us some free and discounted tickets to their show and umu feast. So after work 5 of us piled into the car and after getting lost a few times on the 2 main roads in Tonga we finally found the resort. I offered to be designated driver and we settled in for a grand evening.

The Umu is a traditional feast that is mostly cooked in the ground. This one was amazing and consisted of sweet potato, plantains, potato salad, kasava, sea cucumber, sea urchin, clams, teryaki chicken, sushimi, steamed fish and the suckling pig. For desert there was bread fruit pudding. I just barely managed to fit in a second helping, all dished up on plates made from the stems of banana palms.

the group


This little piggy came to dinner

Then it was time to go into the cave and have the show. The cave was a natural outcropping of rock and created the perfect stage for a truly spectacular show of Tongan dance and fire twirling. The young performers were outstanding and many said O’holei had the best show out there. Half way through our host introduced 2 members of the group that are from the far flung island of Niu. The dialect of this island is a lot faster and sound downright comical. The following exchange happened as the host pointed to me:

Host – tell her she is beautiful
Performer – I think she has husband
I shake my head
Host – see no husband, tell her she is beautiful
Performer – I am sure she has boyfriend
Again I shake my head
Host – see I told you!
Performer – mumbles something in top speed and then shyly dashes away.

I know it was all part of the show and have no idea what he actually said, but who cares, every little bit is good for the ego. They then continued with the dancing. In Tonga they often smear a sticky substance on the dancers or newly weds and encourage the audience to plaster them with money, much to the chagrin of the banks who have to have the money sent away for industrial strength cleansing.

Our Host


Dancers

End of clinic Umu

The ministry did an Umu for us on the last day of the clinic. Mote stayed home all day cooking for us, apparently he did everything, except the last section of turning the pig which his son did after school. The feast was amazing! Thank you so much to the Ministry of Agriculture, to Mote for cooking and Nau for organising everything.

mmmm pig, thats whats for dinner


Mote the chef


Food glorious food!

Markets, Markets, Glorious Markets

As much as I hate shopping, definately missed out on that gene, I love exploring markets and haggling for deals. Give me a market in a 3rd world country any day. The markets in Tonga did not disappoint. You could get anything from Levis to Old Spice to a fur coat.

Market day is called “The Fair” and runs on weekends. It is the place to be and thing to do, not only because you see everyone you know but its also the best time to find the random little necessities such as shampoo or imported canned fruit. It is hard to truly describe the 3 markets so here is a photo gallery dedicated to each one:

Market 1 – along main road

from traditional to modern


all you need or don't need


these somehow disturb me


Lovely people


Jolly jumper with your lawn mower???

Market 2 – along water front, known as “the fair”

Fur coat in 90C weather anyone?

when it rained...it poured


what can I say...


A vital part of any Tongan wardrobe

Fish section of The Fair

All the colours of the rainbow


Got crabs?

not quite sure... but its meant to be edible

Market 3 – Fruit and Crafts

Fruit and veggies


peanuts!


tables and tables of produce


Tapa Handbag anyone?


beautiful people


Market street


negotiating for Tapa


Sita painting Tapa

To follow: Adventures on the Island of ‘Eua, getting my flirt on and woodcarvings!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tonga – Days 178 to 208 cont… Fun Memories!

Just a few fun stories and great memories from my time in Tonga

Mr. Maka

For the past number of years the Billfish Bar has run Mr. Beer competition, but this year the name was changed to Mr. Maka, maka being the Tongan brand. It consisted of 4 young hunks between the ages of 18 and 22, all strutting their stuff. But it wasn’t all beauty and brawn, they also had to demonstrate cultural values and knowledge and show leadership potential.

It was great fun, and I fear I may have acted as bad as some of the other ladies, well maybe not quite. But it was a great hoot and nothing quite as much as screaming for your favorite hunk. And having Miss Ribena and her/his sidekick, Venus, as our hosts and entertainment just made the night even more fun.

Of course the highlight of my evening was when some of the lads were pulled out to dance (please note: dancing with a Tonga could be considered an agreement of marriage). One of the lads was dancing in our group and then he gave me a thumbs up, winked and lei’d me. Mmmm I wonder if I have left Tonga engaged…and I didn’t even know his name????

The winner on left, runner up on right


second runner up and my "lei"


I got lei'd in Tonga

Pangimoto

Pangimoto is an island about a 15min boat ride from the dock. It costs 20 Pa’anga ($16) return and is the palangi (foreigner) hang out on sundays. I got the chance to go just once and it was amazing. I managed to get in some snorkeling, shell collecting, ate a fruit platter and then for the heck of it took a stroll around the island.

Technically 50% would be a wade around as I chose high tide. But it was just amazing and you feel so remote when you are on the far side of the island and all you see is blue water and the occasional palm tree laden islands dotted here and there.

Island Girl


island life


coconut palms anyone?

Sized up for marriage??

On our first village visit I spent a lot of the time pre-medding animals and also watching them recover. Sometimes they have bad wake ups and can get a little tripped out, so its always good to have one of us close at hand.

During one of these occasions I believe I might have been sized up for compatibility by one of the owners as I recovered his dog. The conversation went something like this:
Owner – Are you single?
Me – yes
Owner – how old are you?
Me – 34
Owner – same age as me, I am 33. I am police, personal guard to the king, only police in this village.

(right at that point I got called away, but there was definately a direction he had in mind)

During the same visit we had to neuter a fairly large dog. As our location was a large hall, we often had people stand and watch us. And while I might not speak Tongan, I definately understood the comments as I clipped and then cleaned the testicles of this dog.

Shortly after, when I was again recovering an animal, the policeman said something to the boys (who had been making comments during the surgery prep), they all laughed and then he said to me:

Owner – that boy wants the doctor to take his balls
Me – Yo, Alice, he wants you to neuter him
Alice (vet) – sure come on over, I have a table ready!

This was met with much laughter and all 3 of the guys covering their privates and looking a tad nervous.

My potential suiter is the one to the left

Enima, rural style

On our second village visit, we had the boss of the two Tongan guys who help us as a vet and vet assist, bring us his dog who did not look well at all. It appeared that he had a severe case of constipation. We had to perform an enima but with no supplies we had to turn to the hardware store.

The owner brought us a brand new hosepipe (cost 80 pa’anga about $65). He said when he left this morning his young son and told him to “save my dog please”. So he was ready to do whatever it took or cost.

We had to put the dog under anesthetic as this was going to be exceptionally painful. While I monitored, Alice used the hose to get water up the anus. She also had to manually remove as much debris as possible. She pulled out large chunks of bone and what appeared to be hair. We later realised that the dog had most likely eaten coconut husks and the hair had matted with the bones and cause this severe plus. Alice and Mote (the Tongan vet assistant) had to get quite physical to move the mass of debris through the pups system. The poor animal would be walking funny for a few days after this. The entire time we were conscious that the vigorous actions might lead to a bone puncturing the intestines, but there was no other option.

We gave him lots of pain medication and hoped he would pull through and start having bowel movements. At the end Alice told the owner he owed her a beer… he bought us a case!

I am happy to report that the dog’s bowel movements were back to normal within a few days and there seemed to be no adverse effects.

Taekwondo

I had heard that there was a taekwondo gym on the island and I really wanted to go. But without transport or knowledge of where it was I figured it would most likely not happen. Luckily during one of Zettie’s (one of the 4 amazing South Africans I met) dinner parties, her bosses wife invited me to join her daughter and even said she would pick me up and drop me off.

It was a fantastic class. The instructor was very knowledgeable and the students were very welcoming. It also felt brilliant to do the moves and exercises. I forgot how much I enjoyed the art. I managed to go to a total of 3 classes and loved every minute of it, even if I couldn’t walk probably the following day.

More stories to come…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

IN MEMORY OF TULAN

I recently heard that our sweet and beautiful Tulan, wooly monkey, died from parasites and complications 2 weeks ago. She was raised by humans and could never adjust to living in the wild, no matter how hard we tried. When she took poorly due to a particularly nasty parasite she became our office monkey and a constant companion during our break times.

We will all miss her sweet face and gentle calls and hope to meet her at the Rainbow Bridge with all of our beloved creatures who have passed.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

AmaZOOnico – its a wrap

Deciding to volunteer in the jungle of Ecuador was more of an afterthought that an actual plan. In fact the entire decision to visit South America was an afterthought when plans to volunteer in Botswana fell through. A friend reminded me of a work mate I knew in Peru, and then my mom found an article about volunteering in Ecuador. Well Ecuador was right above Peru, sounded like a perfect fit.

I spoke no Spanish, had never been to South America, was not a fan of rice and beans and yet here I was merrily buying a ticket for my first leg of a year of travel and heading down south. And I will never regret it for a moment. it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and volunteering at AmaZOOnico has made me stronger and (not to sound corny) a wee bit wiser. Here are a few shots from my life there and some of the amazing animals I worked with:

VIDEO: My lodgings – The Volunteer House

VIDEO: Toucans – the one trying to get into the compost bucket is the one who had a vendetta against my boots

Blue and Yellow Macaw with Amazon Parrot - they mate for life



VIDEO: Dobbie showing his intelligence

VIDEO: Enrichment with Tamarin monkeys











 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 25, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: