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.