A puma´s personal trainer

Trip Start Oct 12, 2010
Trip End Jun 15, 2011

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Flag of Bolivia  , Cochabamba,
Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vamos Sonko!

This is my most common phrase in the past 2 weeks. Yes, my lazy puma has to be constantly motivated in order to get going. I feel like a pumas personal trainer, trying to get 16Km a day from him, while hes only interested in sleeping and getting his food!

Almost 2 weeks have passed since I got to this park. My beard is much thicker, Ive been bitten/stung/eaten by every possible jungle bug there is (mosquitoes, sand flies, sweat flies and probably spiders as well). Life is good when your only worry for the day is weather or not your puma will be taking 2 long trails or a long one and a short one… Im very comfortable around Sonko now and hes comfy with me as well. If he stops to rest and sleeps for a while – Clancy and I just sit next to him, talk or read a book. He has his own regular spots where he lies down, but theres one thats our favorite. Its right at the end of a creek… cold stones, nice breeze, green all around and a place to sit or lie down next to Sonko.

It has become my everyday life now, as strange as it may seem. You get up and go to work/office/university, I get up and go into the jungle to take my puma for a long walk. It seems so natural and simple now :)

People here are wonderful and I love them all. Animal lovers are good people in general, and those who are willing to spend 2 weeks or a month off their huge trip to help animals are the best. Were having a party every week, a joint dinner from time to time and of course – the traditional post-jungle time beer at the cafeteria.

Sonko provides me with new stories everyday. Hes an unpredictable puma and each day with him is totally different. One day he will walk 16Km with no problem, the next day he will sleep for 3 hours in the middle. Obe day he will jump you 4 times and constantly want to play, the next day he will lick your hand and jump into a pond of water. Its never boring with this little rascal…

So far he jumped me many times, mostly reaching my shoulder. I only have a scratch or two, not very deep… Most of my bruises and scratches are from the jungle itself – branches, thorns and vines everywhere.

Yesterday we had an interesting encounter with a porcupine that was running on our trail. Sonko chased him away and he climbed a small tree. Unfortunately for him – Sonko takes about 2 seconds to jump up that tree and will do this gladly. Fortunately for him – we were there to stop him from doing so and from getting dozens of spikes in his face…

The jungle is amazing and full of life. Our trails are very difficult to walk through at first (designed for pumas and not for people), but you get used to it after a week or so. Spending time here is probably one of the most unique things Ill get to do in life, and being so close to such a beautiful predator is something that is very unusual.

I have 2 more weeks to spend here, and although the work is hard – Im looking forward to enjoying every day of it. I love the jungle and the sensation of freedom, I love finishing my day dead tired, and I love the feeling of being tied to a huge wild jungle cat for hours everyday.

Ill try to add photos from my better camera soon, including wildlife and park life.

Until next time – take care and enjoy your days!

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