Ecuadorian Amazon part 2- For the Love of Animals
After working for 8 straight days, I finally got a break during my second week at the Amazoonico. I was equally excited to finally get my laundry washed as I was to eat a nice western meal and have a hot shower. It´s the little things 🙂 I took the canoe and bus to get to Tena, the closest town. I went to 5 laundry places, all were closed. I finally found one that was open, and when I went to pick it up the next day, it was still soaking wet from just being put into a bucket to soak. My shower at the hostal was not hot. I did, however, have a pretty decent personal pizza. I also went to the wrong bus station to head back to Amazoonico, so I had to rush about 8 blocks to catch the bus. My time in Tena was not the relaxing night I had hoped for.
Back at the rescue center I was ready to get back to work. As an enrichment for the birds, I made clay balls and stuffed them with peanuts. We have 4 bird enclosures, so I put 2 balls in each on. I stuffed them on branches, and the macaws came over right away! They really seemed to enjoy pecking at the clay to get the peanuts out.
Ah, the birds… so many beautiful birds. So many that like to hang upside down and peck at my top knot. So many birds that fly to my shirt and crawl up and annoyingly bite my ears and neck.
So many birds that shout right into my ear. I can´t blame them, though. Most of them were pets who were mistreated and thrown out like trash. Macaws can live about 75 years, and parrots about 50. That´s a long time to have a pet. It´s actually illegal in Ecuador to have a wild animal as a pet, but there are no reprocussions for people who get caught. The animals are confiscated and handed over to a rescue center like Amazoonico, and the people never face charges. It´s a sad cycle that isn´t going to change anytime soon.
In my first blog, I mentioned deadly bugs… I wasn´t kidding about things creepy around here that CAN kill you. There are 2 venomous snakes slithering around. One is brown and black snake, the other is a red, white, and black stripped one. The brown one can kill you in 5 hours, the closest hospital is 4 hours away. If we see one, we have to catch it and kill it. I haven´t seen one of these guys yet, and I hope I never will. There are also deadly frogs, scorpions, and hiker ants. On Thursday last week, our bodega was infested with thousands of the hiker ants. They are nothing to be messed with. They ate every single cockroach, lizard, and scorpion near by. They also started to attack one of the boas we had in an enclosure near by… so bad that we had to move her. No doubt in my mind they they could easily pick a human body clean in a few hours. After about 4 hours they ate didn´t have anything else to eat, so they moved in, and I am glad they did!
We had a few new volunteers show up, and a few veteran volunteers leave. The volunteers like to throw themed going away parties. Last week, Janeth from Ecuador and Sophie from Germany were set to leave. They decided on a hippy theme for their party. Melissa from Colombia/Canada and I made a delicious going away meal.
Tuna salad on crackers for a starter, pizza for the main course, and mini cinnamon rolls for dessert. It was by far the best meal I have had while in the jungle, and no I am not biased since I cooked it, lol. After dinner rum and beer were consumed until after midnight. A dance party ensued in the kitchen. Rap, bachata, salsa, and some good ol pop music were played. A shaving cream fight broke out, shots were drank, it was a fun night. Even though I had only known Janeth and Sophie for less than two weeks, it was still sad to see them go. We are basically around one another for 24 hours a day, with no TV, internet, or other media devices to keep us occupied. This forces us to hang out, talk, share stories… and because of this connections are quickly established. I will miss them both very much, and wish them the best.
Yes, I am a highly organized person. I enjoy multitasking. Because of this skill set that I have, I have been put on bar duty. The bar is not some place you go for a cocktail and dancing, but it´s our souvenir shop and place tourists go to purchase tickets for tours of the center. So far I have everything reorganized, complete with a sale/clearance rack, and have put out new merchandise. It is time consuming, but I really like doing it. It´s a mindless task for me, but I find it rewarding.
With 600 animals, sometime we don´t see a certain animal for a few days. The dwarf caiman that hangs out in the tapir enclosure hasn´t been spotted in over a week. One of the ladies, Kelly, who helps run the center, asked Anna (Germany) and I to help her search for the caiman. We entered the tapir enclure with our mud sticks, and went caiman hunting! We covered the largest enclosure at Amazoonico and found no trace of him. We did find a small dug our section near the back that he could have hobbled through. Trouble is, it leads to the guangana enclosure. Gaunganas are a sort of wild pig, and they are vicious and very aggressive. For this reason, we can´t enter their enclosure to look for the caiman. It´s also possible that the caiman was just hiding in a mud hole somewhere and we just couldn´t see him, he blends in so well! While in the with the tapirs, Navi and Carnival came and said hello to us. Kelly found a cacao plant, and opened it up. Anna and I both had a piece, and we offered the rest to the tapirs. Carnival wasn´t interested, but Navi sure loved it! I couldn´t pass up the opportunity, so I got an awesome selfie with Navi 🙂
For the love of animals is why I am here. For the love of animal is what keeps me motivated. For the love of animals is why I get up every morning at 6:30am and work 10-12 hours. For the love of animals why I push myself to carry heavy fruits up a bazillion (yes, a bazillion) stairs from the river. For the love of animals is why I spend a little extra time making sure their feeding tables are clean. These animals are not at the rescue center by choice. They are here because of humans. I will do everything I can to make sure they are well fed, clean, and cared for. I am certainly going to take advantage of these next 2.5 weeks with them.