Leaving Flores and onto Belize

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Dec 15, 2006

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hi everyone

Once again thanks for all the support my blog has received. I would like to let you all know that my time at the animal refuge has finished, although it was not without 'events'.

The first event I would like to let you know about was my 'run-in' with an hormonally charged teenage male deer. The fact that he was nicknamed 'bambi' should not detract from just how terrifying that experience was. All deer start to 'rut' at a certain age - when they grow antlers and start thinking that 'knocking-heads' is actually a prettyy good idea. Bambi unfortunately thought knocking-heads with me was a good idea. I was in his enclosure feeding some of the Toucans when my 'spider-sense' detected I was in serious trouble. The next moment I felt something akin to a wooden baseball bat smack me in the back of legs. When this happened I was reminded, oddly, of the phrase my Aikido-sensei has often quipped about Aikido only working against attackers with 2 legs. As my legs toppled out from under me I let out a masculine 'man-cry' for help. Help did not arrive. I found myself lying on my ass realising my Aikido had suddenly turned into Aikidon't as I had absolutely no idea what to do. I staggered to my feet and grabbed the young-buck by the scruff of the neck and was seized by the dichotomy of 'not-wanting-to-hurt-the-little-guy' and 'I-am-going-to-kill-this-bastard'. Although this is a classic Aikido-conundrum I think the deer realised I was in 2 minds as he proceeded to repeatedly batter me against the wall. I eventually escaped, bleeding and very baddly bruised, swearing I would never go back. I went back later that day.

I also managed to start contracting weird skin conditions whilst I was working at ARCAS. This started as bilateral eczema on both elbows. I have NEVER had eczema before but it seemed that now was the time for it to commence. I then developed a 'lesion' on my cheek that was red, hot, started to expand and was deceptively simililar to a condition-I-do-not-want called Leishmaniasis. As this terrified me I developed an inner-ear infection and started losing my balance. I believe this may have helped me dodge some of the more aggressive bucks from that deer.

There were, however, some truly incredibly experiences. The refuge looked after lots of spider-monkeys (an endemic breed here) and one of Louise and my favourite jobs was to visit the babies. Those poor little girls had lost their mother and when we entered their enclosure they would cuddle up in contented balls in our laps. They obviously missed their departed mothers and just needed some TLC because they would spend hours sleeping like this with us. I was only urinated on once. Really, really rewarding stuff.

The jaguar, however, never wanted a cuddle. She remained firmly committed to eating both Louise and myself throughout our stay. The fact that all that separated us was a thin chicken wire fence (that she had discovered she call climb by locking her claws through the rings) and that she took every opportunity to hurl herself at me is something I will never forget. An interesting fact about Jaguars: They have evolved a method of killing their prey that is completely different from all other species of great-cats (tigers, lions, leopards). Most cats suffocate their prey by grabbing them around the throat and squeezing. The jaguar is different - It's jaws are SO POWERFUL that it's usual method of killing an animal (like a 70kg Capybarra) is to simply seize them by the head and then squeeze until their skull explodes. Try going to sleep thinking of that! Pretty incredible experience though.

However, after a bit over a week of bird-work it was time to leave and head back to the task-at-hand. Having a GREAT HOLIDAY. I found out yesterday that I got into the physician-training program back at St. Vincent's hospital in Melbourne and so have been celebrating like it's my birthday (which it is in 3 weeks, incidentally - Oct 13th). In order to celebrate in style Louise and I took the 3am sunrise-tour to see the ruins of Tikal today. Tikal is an imposing set of ruins set in the Guatemalan jungle that were built by the Mayan's for arguable reasons. Although the sunrise was somewhat ruined by the fact mist was everywhere, the experience was, in general, a good one. The ruins were huge and we got to see yet MORE animals roaming the jungle - howler monkey's screaming at each other, foxes, coatimundis...

So, in a couple of days Guatemala will be finished with and I will be heading into Belize to go snorkeling with fish and relax on the beach

should be great

keep in contact

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jamesdouglas on

Re: felicitacion!
Thanks for the post on my blog

You are indeed right about Tikal basically being a temple complex (althought there were areas reserved for upper- and lower-class people to live). The different opinions was really literary shorthand for summing up Tikal's history in a single sentence. Nice spot, incidentally, I will have to be more careful with my writing.

Thanks for the congratulations on the physician training, by the way, it is like a 7 month panic attack just wore-off. When I wrote to SVH after getting in to thank them, the cheeky bastards had the nerve to tell me ''you were always a clearly-in candidate, why were you stressed?''. Would have been more useful a few months earlier, wouldn't you aggree.

My lesions appear to be a bit of an up-and-down at the moment. I think that they are all getting better (even the thing on my face) but it can be hard to tell. Incredibly hot, humid weather does not help them and neither did the barely-there hygiene standards of the jungle. The fact that I am a recovering-scabieholic (Hi, I'm James, I have scabies) also weighs on my mind every time I get a new bite. What can you do, though? I think they will all disappear once I am in the freezing confines of Europe.

Our trip has got 1 more month in central America. Probably a week or so in Belize and then 2 weeks in Mexico (with a one week escape to Havanna for music and cigars). Should be wonderful.

By the way, Ondrej, how is YOUR medical career coming along. Are you still interested in leaving the whole thing and pursuing your translating services? ¿Quieres estudiar medicina otra vez en tu futura? ¿Que piensas? Louise e yo necistamos saber.

I wonder if you still wish to be a translator with the amount of mistakes in there.

Hasta Luego

(and try not to get munched-on by a Lion in Africa - it is actually a lot more common than published)

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