Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
32Trip End Dec 20, 2007
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I only have a short amount of time and so many things to say but I will do my best... I have decided to stay at Parque Ambue Ari for 4 weeks so that I can work with the cats, and I am now the proud 'owner' of an adorable Ocelot called Lazycat. She is very humanised as she lived with a family in Santa Cruz as a kitten, but was rescued and came to the park from Santa Cruz zoo. She lives in her cage in the jungle, and everyday I take her for walks. The first few days she was really living up to her name. She was on heat so even lazier than usual and just wanted to sit around and be cuddled or sleep all the time. So I spent a lot of time singing to her or reading my book aloud to stop her getting bored! But on thursday she came off heat, and at the same time the rainy season started with ernest this week, and she went crazy! The rain, and the fact that it is cooler, is making all the cats a bit psycho and Lazy is no exception So the last couple of days shes spent most of our walk time trying to jump at my legs and bite my knees :oS luckily she is pretty small (maybe twice the size of a house cat) so mostly I can deflect her lunges or push her off, and it is all play, shes not viscious at all, but she still has very big teeth and very sharp claws! When shes not trying to eat me shes been racing up trees and sprinting through the undergrowth with me trying to keep up. Other than playing with Lazy I have to clean her cage and feed her. The animals here get really good food, much better than the humans. Lots of fruit, and really good looking bits of meat. We get soup, and rice, no meat, no fruit. Lots of carbs!! When im not with Lazy im kept really busy - spent a few mornings working on the construction of a new cage for Herbie, a tapir, including mixing concrete, cementing in fenceposts, digging, moving rocks, lifting and securing fences.... its tough work! Especially in this heat, with all the mosquitos :oS First thing in the morning we all have to work for an hour before breakfast feeding the house animals (ie non-cats close to camp) so this week i have been grating food for the Pios - ostrichs. we also have chores, cleaning etc, so for the last few days its been my job to cut up the meat for all the animals and divide it up. So we are working pretty much from 7am until 5pm, then just time for dinner and bed! The people here are really nice, there are about 20 volunteers at the mo and they're a lot of fun, we're a big family :o) there are also some really cool animals - the Howler monkeys Faustino and Coco who sit on your shoulders and like to be cuddled, and the baby howler Roomy who is the cutest thing ever, he likes to sit like a scarf around your neck, or inside t-shirts. I've never seen monkeys so close and they are so cool! Their hands are so much like humans, they even have finger nails! Theres also a dog, a wild pig and some tejons that live in the casa, plus lots of birds in the aviary. And we had a new arrival this week - a new baby puma! She is only 2 months old and his mum was killed. A bolivian guy bought him to the park hoping to sell him. We refused to give him money but took the puma anyway! She is so so cute :o)
So other than working, we've had a barbecue and bonfire, movie night in the nearby village, a few drinks, and played a really fun game - Lobo. It means werewolf in spanish, and the idea is its a kind of murder mystery game, u have to work out who the lobos are. Its a really fun game for a group, 10 or so people.
The downside to the jungle is definitely the mosquitos! There are so many, and as the rainy season is just starting its going to get worse. We aren't allowed to use any chemical repellent, only natural oils (useless!) so I am totally covered with bites. they can even bite through jeans :oS today im buying a spare mosquito net so I can cut it up and make a mozzie hat to keep them off my face! Yuk. Its also very very wet adn muddy, and I miss chocolate, good food, feeling clean, adn general civilisation. But the pros outweight the cons.
As to whether i made the right decision in staying here... well I think so. Like some people said, Argentina will still be there for next holiday (and I am definitely coming back!) whereas i prob wont have the chance to work with these amazing cats again. Also i have a 6 month holiday, mainly paid for by Oliver Wyman, for which I am really really lucky, so to spend 1 month of it doing some really valuable work isn't really much. this maybe isn't quite as exciting as travelling but its a lot of fun and a gret experience :o) I havent met any pumas and jaguars yet but will hopefully in the next couple of days! Although im working mainly with my ocelot i might get the chance to work with some other cat as well, as we have many volunteers leaving, and before leaving I can walk with either the pumas Inti, Wara , and Yassi (they're triplets that have been here since babies) or with Katie the jaguar. yay! its also scary though cos nearly every day someone gets scratched bitten or knocked to the floor when the cats jump up :oS
Ok I got to go... should be back on internet next saturday, hopefully with some animal pics! Send me emails and messages, I was very disappointed to recieve only one interesting email and 26 rubbish ones in a whole week :o(
Muchas amores, ciao xxx