I´ve never felt so at home in such an alien place, nor been so content and happy so quickly among a new group of people who became as close as family. I`ve spent the past hour on this computer, writing and deleting, editing and starting over. I want to write about the sound of the roaring river, the smell of fresh coffee that was the catalyst for croaky morning giggles, the jungle that encased us, the animals that were lucky enough to be living at the refuge, either temporarily or permanently. I wish I could describe every minute of every day in an adequate enough manner so that it could portray the infectious conconction of happiness, excitement, passion and enthusiasm that was buzzing through everyone's veins, and the incredible effort that Marcus and Jeni, the volunteer co-ordinators, and Frank and Louisa, the managers, put into Merazonia Refuge to make it run the way that it does.
I´ve given up. So instead I will just include my brief diary entries and try to be content with that.
Arrived. Got wrong bus, ended up in a town that sounded more like a latin ass-shaking dance routine than the jungle town I had intended to be destined for. Had to run across the Riobamba highway to hail the right bus. Marriage proposal count - 3.
Capuchin round, met the individual capuchins and learned about their behavior. Swam in the crystal clear waterfall before lunch. Feeling purified. Giggles, banter and a lot of drinks in the evening after candle lit dinner with everyone.
Wild tamarin monkeys followed us on afternoon rounds. Met Niamh, the gorgeous auburn howler monkey. Danced with Malcom the macaw.
Met Barbosa, the one legged black headed parrot. Did the entire bird round with him sat on my shoulder, nibbling my neck. Went fishing for Adam the otter, live worm bait. Fish count - pitiful.
Met the puma, beautiful animal. Reminds me of the big cats back home. Powerful eyes laced with sadness of a life at the hands of humans. Was on bathroom cleaning chore with Manda, took twice as long due to inhibition from laughing.
The night of the campfire.
Soaking up the front line of conservation. This is what I´m meant to be doing with my life.
Sunshine day. Bedtime giggles in the volunteer dorm. Guitar playing over dinner and swapping stories and dreams.
Found a cornsnake in the grass while out grasshopper hunting for Eddie the tamarin.
Saw Malcom explore his new found freedom on a playpen outside his cage (he can`t fly). Chirrups and squaks of happiness, feel like making those sounds myself most of the time. Great day´s fishing on the beautiful river, sitting on big boulders and watching the hummingbirds dart over the water. Night out in Puyo with the crew, was taught salsa by the locals, discovered I have two left feet. Barbosa would probably be better at this than me. All rode in the back of the pick up taxi home, wind in my air and 50mph giggles. Felt like my soul would burst with happiness.
Saw a wild armadillo on the way to feed Adam otter. Explored further down river. Fish count - back to pitiful. Blame it on the hangover.
Nick brought a battery powered projector. We hooked up a white sheet for a screen in the volunteer dorm, pushed the beds together and all watched Into the Wild with popcorn. Best cinema I´ve ever been to. Quote from the film.... "happiness is only real when shared."
Was on enrichment duty for the puma. Having been kept in a cage in a hostel, barely large enough for her to move around, she understandably hates people, and doesn't have the natural instincts anymore to give her a chance at release. I chained her meat to the end of a string, and from the outside of her enclosure I would pull it every time she got near, awakening her chase instinct and causing her to leap around the enclusure, batting and pouncing. I had the biggest grin on my face for the entire half an hour, till I finally let her have it and left her be.
Day off. Went into Shell with Heidi, explored more of the river. Swam under the waterfall.
On enrichment duty with Manda. Got creative with bamboo, a hammer and a big drill. Built a playpen for Eddie tamarin, she loved it.
The day the fire pit collapsed.
Left Merazonia and left a little piece of my heart behind.
I guess unless you leave somewhere, you will never discover other un-leavable places. So now I´m off to Quito to try and make it to Colombia, on the road again and acutely alone after being surrounded by constant family for 2 and a half weeks.
Love, hugs and happiness to you all. Sorry for the diary entry cop out, but couldn´t do it any other way.