Friday, April 24, 2009

La Clinica

Alright, i have quite a lot to write about. so i guess we´ll get started.

I got the bus to a small town called Villa Tunari, which is right by Parque Machia (where i was planning on volunteering). as the bus came into to "town" (really just a stip of resturants and hostels along the "highway") it was raining like i have almost never seen it rain. the bus was continuing on, so i was pretty much tossed out on the ground with my backpack, and after the 5 second or so walk to the covered area of a hostel was already completely soaked. but they gave me a room for cheap and dinner as well. the next day i headed down to the park, talked to some of the volunteers having lunch, and waited around till 5 for the tour. we walked through the sub-tropical jungle and monkeys were running about and all that. i then was assigned to work in the clinic because you have to stay for a month to work with cats, which is stupid because (tangent) people start with a cat and work her or him for a few days and then get so tired that they change, so the idea that we couldnt even see the cats cause the would freak out is ridiculous considering that several of the workers only could handle one or two days with them anyway, so why couldnt i have done a couple days, just like those who promised to do a month, and then switch to something else (or just went to see them and take some pictures), just like those who promised to do a month? alright, back on track. the clinic sounded fine to me, and they needed a guy and someone who could speak spanish with the vets (i fill both those requirements) and ended up being fine because it was almost all monkeys that we were working with. its also the first step in the process of rehabilitating an animal. (first they come to us, the vets make sure they are healthy and then monitor their behaviour for awhile, then they go straight to the mirador, where they still get taken care of, or they go to monkey park, where they become free, but still fed. if they have some sort of problem then they get sent to quarentine, where many live in cages and continue to get medicine and observed until they are ready for release.) the first few days were pretty tough, the swiss-french woman (who studied to be a veteranery assistant in australia, and would therefore have a swiss-french-australian accent when saying some words, and would use terms like "well done matey" when refering to me or the monkeys, and all of which i found hilarious) ran a pretty tight ship, and everything had to be done exactly right, and then done again, and maybe one more unneccessary time just for good measure. she could be a bit condesending and once told me as i was cutting carrots for the monkeys, "jeevon, dont cut the carrots like that, monkeys arn´t humans." well thats when decided for sure that, in fact, monkeys arn´t humans, something i had been on the fence about at first.

the days were long, starting at 7:30 and ending at 6:30 with a nice break for lunch, but the work was rewarding. several of the monkeys got on very well with me and it was suprised when i was saying goodbye to them when i realized i would miss them grooming my hair, eating earwax, going through all my pockets and sticking their hands in my mouth. it was quite interesting though that 6 of the monkeys would attack Lise (pronouced lease) just because she was a girl, and therefor i was the one who had to feed them. that may have made her feel a little inferior, but its just a fact that most animals at the park, and in the animal kindom in general, respond better to males than females. its a dominance thing. but over the course of the two weeks i was working there we lost one monkey, one baby tejon (an almost anteater-like mammal that nobody knows the word for in english), but let 4 monkeys free into the wild, which was nice.

the volunteers at the park were some of the most sababa (islaeli word for cool) people i have met in a while though. one aussie girl (who im traveling with now) i met one night in la paz, not even thinking twice, and the she showed up at the park and we became pretty good friends with mike from london, jackson the asian looking kiwi, who lives in south china, many of the 15 (50% or more of the volunteer population) israelis, oliver from germany, fabrice from london, brad from california and various others im probably forgetting right now (thats how you know they´re good friends...).

as i was working i thought of things to mention when i got round to writing this post, and i think much of that is escaping my mind right now, but you have read the important bits. we arrived in santa cruz yesterday morning at 5:30 and found a hostel that ended up costing twice what the lonley planet said (as usual). we just changed today but have been disapointed to find that this city which is known to be more brazilian than bolivian and always warm and sunny. we woke up this morning to a light mist that escalated into a downpour and shows no signs of letting up. our hopes of going to aqua land today (a bolivian water park; im thinking it will be a couple rusty slides and a guy spraying water on you from a hose, but who knows) have been crushed by the weather. gemma wanted to go despite the rain, saying the point of a water park is to get wet, so who cares. i was able to convince her otherwise so i think we´ll go disco bowling instead. if not then a 3-D movie might be the activity, just to make sure we really soak up the brazilian-bolivian culture here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Parqu Machia

Alright, this is going to be lame cause i am super tired. expect a very detailed post in about a week.

I dont work with pumas, i work with monkeys in the clinic of the animal refuge called Parque Machia. the work is quite hard, we start very early and end quite late. what i can tell you is that today 2 monkeys jumped me and one stuck its paw in my mouth while cleaning my ear, and the other wrapped its arms and legs around my neck and head and wouldnt let go. that (or something similar) is not an unusual occurance. also, monkeys (and tejones--i dont know the word for them in english, but they have long noses) poop non-stop.

more in a week or so, but i am still alive and thriving, more or less.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

10 Days in La Paz

Ok, i understand its been a while, but at the same time, not much has been going on. The bus that went from northern chile to la paz was interesting. it took about 8 hours and started at sea level peaking at around 4000 meters. thats a lot of altitude to cover in just 8 hours, enough so, apparently, that the girl sitting next to me got altitude sickness and was throwing up in a plastic bag for the the last 40 minutes. lovely. it was pretty hard on everyone else as well, by the end of the trip (which, by the way, was not air conditioned, and instead they decided to blow hot air on us for most of the way) most of the bus was groening in some sort of pain. i had a wicked headache and made a b-line for a hostel bed to try to sleep it off.

over the next couple days i met 2 hilarious british indian girls traveling with their white british friend, a scottish indian guy my age, and two friends traveling together from outside of london. this was the la paz group this time, as we had a blast. i guess the only problem would be that with nighlife as good (and cheap) as it is in la paz, it encourages becoming degenerate. and after a couple days you have seen everything to see, and soon the lifestyle becomes going out till very, very late (some would say early, as in the morning), sleeping half the day, eating, watching movies, and repeating. with a day off here and there. needless to say, its good to have escaped.

although a few days before we left, i learned that bolivia would be playing argentina for the world cup qualifiers. we got tickets (just 5 of us) for $15 (decent seats, too) and headed to the stadium on game day. and what a day it was. we all made guesses as to how bad argentina would beat bolivia. (argentina is 2nd from the top in south america, bolivia 2nd from bottom.) but the first goal went to bolivia, and soon we realized that something amazing was afoot. it must have been the altitude, because the final score was bolivia 6, argentina 1. it was the worst they have been beaten in a long, long time. and the fans went wild.

now i am in a place called cochabamba. tomorrow ill be catching a mini bus out to a small town called Villa Tunia, where there is a wildlife refuge. i have agreed to spend 2 weeks out there volunteering with sick and hurt endangered animals. internet is supposedly "occasionaly reliable," so it might be some time before another blog post comes along. but its sure to be an expierence.