Hello all. Sorry it´s been a while. Been rather busy. So I suppose I should start with last week. On Thursday I was meant to be in the kitchen but I was ill....again so I didn´t do it. I wasn´t the only one - I think there was a bug going round but I still had a wicked last couple of days in Jatun Sacha. On the Friday I went into a local school to teach English. The school´s not in the best of situations. There are about 7 levels with only one teacher for all of them. Imagine years 3-5 in one class and years 6-8 in another. It also means that the kids are unsupervised at times but they seemed happy enough. I was there for 2 lessons and break time. The break time was awesome. All the kids wanted hugs and we had to play lots of games running about so we set up races for them and 2 of the girls gave me a handmade necklace. They also showed us some kittens that had been born. They were tiny. In my second class I noticed that the ones I´d had previously were macheteing outside - cutting the grass instead of a lawn mower. It was pretty impressive. Can´t imagine being able to let many British kids loose with machetes!!!!
On Saturday I went to the cloud forest with some of the Jatun Sacha people and we had a nice chill out. Drank some wine - no Cuba Libres this time (large rum and coke with fresh lime juice for those of you not in the know!) There were some beautiful views and we had hot showers - the first in a month. I could have slept in that shower. It was the best shower I´ve ever had!!! We also had a roast dinner - the owners are British - an all in all a good time was had by all of us!
On Monday I arrived at my latest placement in Santa Martha. It´s an animal centre that takes in animals that have been seized by the police mostly or ones that have been brought by owners that can´t look after them anymore. Some of the animals are in pretty bad condition. Everyday we start off in the morning by chopping up fruit and feeding it to the animals then we do a project like fix or build a cage and in the afternoon we clean out all the animals. On my first day I helped to clean out the parrots and macaws - there are loads of them - and I also got to see some of the smaller animals. There are loads of capuchin monkeys - like the one Captain Barbosa has in Pirates of the Carribean - they really make that screaming noise. They´re absolutely lovely. A lot of them have lesions on their tails and bodies where they had been tied up previously. There are also woolly monkeys, a spider monkey, 2 squirrels, 2 coatis, a large rodent thing, kinkajous and rabbits amongst others!
On Tuesday I got to help give the big cats their water - we don´t go in the cage to do that! Just pour it through the fence. There are lions (there were 11 but then another 4 arrived so we now have 15!), ocelots, pumas, a spotted jaguar and also 2 large galapagos turtles, 5 wild pigs and 3 Andean spectacled bears! In the afternoon I cleaned out the baby capuchins and one of them stole a cleaning brush and watched me dunking my brush in the bucket of water before scrubbing the surfaces so he decided to copy me. It was very sweet but he made a bit more mess than he cleaned!!! Other capuchins jump on you when you´re cleaning and they also like to go through your pockets!! I then got to meet "Mr Woolly"!!!! He´s a large male woolly monkey and is very dominant. As this blog is read by the general public I won´t go into too much detail but lets just say he has a "THING" for human girls and when you go in with him he jumps on you and gets a bit excited! He also bites and pulls your hair. That first day with him I could only manage 5 minutes with him!!! I also got to meet woollies in another cage - including one called Lily who´s a lovely baby woolly. She´s absolutely tiny! We also had to move a small rabbit into a larger cage with another rabbit and a niandu, which is a sort of ostrich, but before we could we had to patch up lots of holes with wood and stones so the rabbit wouldn´t be able to get out. That took quite a while but the rabbit´s not got out yet so hopefully it worked!!!
On Wednesday morning I chopped loads of fruit for the animals. It´s a different amount, type and size for each kind of animal so it takes a while and then we went out and fed them. They all know when it´s feeding time cos they can see you coming with the buckets and they make loads of noise!!! I went in with the larger monkeys and they jumped on me and got fruit in my hair so I was rather sticky!!!! We then had to go down and move some pigs from a large enclosure and start to improve their enclosure to make it suitable for lions!! That took most of the morning and it was really hot, hard work. In the middle of it one of the pigs managed to escape into the large part of the cage. They can be quite vicious too so it was a bit scary but we all got out unharmed! In the afternoon we also got 2 new ocelots that were brought in by a couple that had bought them as kittens and then realised they couldn´t look after them. I also helped clean out the baby room - which is for really small monkeys that can´t stay out all night, such as lily - the woolly I mentioned earlier. She was really funny. Everytime we cleaned a poo out of her cage she just did another one!! She did that about 4 times. I think she was protesting!!! I then went to clean the bigger capuchins with Gemma, a volunteer. When I was in there Caspar jumped on me cos she is scared of everything and I was in the middle of cleaning when she did I wee on me but I managed to aim her away from my body so I was pretty impressed with myself!!! They also put one of the wild pigs in with the rabbits and niandu but the niandu got scared and jumped out of the cage and broke its leg. It was broken in a really awkward place so on Thursday they had to put it down.
On Thursday I saw the new lions - the male looks really ferocious with his big mane. Very scary. At the moment they are in a circus trailer until their enclosure is fixed enough for them to go in. On Monday they should be going in. In the morning I also helped to clean out a cage of these vicious things that are related to ferrets - they weren´t in the cage whilst we did it! In the middle of the cleaning a monkey escaped and it took ages to catch! Rather exciting. The family that owns Santa Martha also plucked and cooked the niandu!! In the afternoon I helped to clean out the baby and woolly monkeys again so I went in with Mr Woolly again and this time he wasn´t as bad. He licked me a lot on my face and neck so I was covered in monkey spit! I scrubbed my skin in the shower that afternoon! Rebecca, another volunteer also got bitten by the spider monkey and other people had gone shopping so in the end we didn´t finish work til 6:30 and it was dark by that time.
Yesterday we were fixing the new lion cage again. Adding an electric fence and in the afternoon I helped to clean out the parrots. I also went in with the coatis to clean them. They have very sharp claws and teeth so I started freaking out when one was on my back cos I thought it was biting me but it was just scratching itself! This morning we just fed the animals and then we have the rest of the day and tomorrow off so I´ve come to Baños to rest! Anyways, that´s all for now. Love Rachel xxx