Leaving Flores and onto Belize
Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
27Trip End Dec 15, 2006
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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
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
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