Saturday, September 18, 2010

I want to be a Monkey in My Next Life

Insights I´ve learned thusfar:

1. Goodbyes are the pitts but there´s always hello waiting at the other end.
Being at the Taricaya Conservation Lodge is great because not only am I getting a taste for Peruvian life on the Amazon, but I´m meeting loads of people from all over the world! Here, there are volunteers from England, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, France, Quebec, Peru, New York, Boston, Germany, Austria! There is also a wide range of ages. People just out of high school like myself, all the way to people who are retired! It´s a crazy awesome group! I feel like I´m living the game of "Telephone" because so often between all the languages and accents, the meanings of what we´re trying to say gets totally twisted in translation. It can be quite amusing to see how the phrase "316 barrels of fish" turns into "two birds on a stick"??? What??
But in the end, it´s such a learning experience and everyone is very kind and accepting of you (even if you are a "fat, stupid American"). They are all great volunteers who love to work hard as well as play hard! Haha!

2. Dirt Won´t hurt.
You know the old phrase, "rub some dirt on it"? Totally applies here. My clothes get filthy from the dirt and the sweat, and we can only do laundry once a week at most. My level of hygeine has definitely declined here but it´s all good because Im learning to live "all nat-u-ral". Our bungalows and living quarters are very simple with a thin layer of grime covering everything (We have yet to clean). It is also constructed in a very open manner, so Vicki and I are learning to share our home with many eight-legged guests. Ha! But I´m actually getting used to it (that´s for you Dad, I know you didn´t think I could). Maybe it´s because they´re everywhere here I have no choice but to accept it. And though cockroaches are quite common,  I have not seen a tarantula yet.... we´ll see how that goes....

3. My body has an endless amount of sweat.
Who knew that you could sweat out of every pore from 8 am to 8 pm?? I have no idea how it appears, but the sweat beads instantly and literally cascades down. I now have more sympathy for women with hot flashes. The rare 5 second breeze is a life saver and while the power is on, the fan in the lodge is a highly desired object. The competition can get rough.

4. I want to be a Monkey in My Next Life (Or maybe this one...)
So at Taricaya, we have the pleasure of working with many animals from the Jungle. We have turtles, tapirs, macaws, toucans, jaguars, wild dogs, otters, owls, trumpeters, butterflies, and monkeys. And there are squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and capuchin monkeys. All adorable and absolutely awesome. And I´m not going to lie, I envy them. When we feed the monkeys, we are allowed to go into some of their cages and play with them a little. They are suprising strong for how little they are and they swing from anything they can reach with ease. It looks like a blast. The capuchin monkeys are tricky little con artists though. They lure you in with their big eyes and as soon as you´re in the cage they steal your watch, or hide food down your shirt, or nibble your ears. One was hanging from a rope and would swing it and whip me with the end of the rope. They can only get away with it because they are so gosh darn cute.
Everyone´s favorite monkey by far though, is the docile 9-month-old spider monkey named Nicol. She is a little sweetheart and shy when you first meet her. Just like a toddler (or my sister to this day) she has a little comfort blanket. You just want to cuddle with her all day. I wish I could adopt her so bad, but alas, I must resist... (if you have any good plots for smuggling a spider monkey into the states let me know asap)

5. Go with the flow
Today, on our way to civilization (Puerto Maldonado), our boat broke down in the middle of the river. We waited for a few hours to try to fix the engine or flag down someone with no luck. But once the bugs started attacking us, we all just jumped in the river (and even though the river is completely opaque due to mud, there are no attacking piranahs and it appears to be safe). We played in the river for hours until a boat came to our rescue and was able to take us to town. It was a great morning and I am so elated. I love it here so far and I cant wait to see what is to come!
I hope you are all well! More to come later!


  1. This is actually Dad posting from Mom's machine:

    Heather this is fun to read. Good observations and I like the dig of shy Allison. But you really expect me to believe you're learning to live with spiders? Fat chance. Fess up, Vicky is killing them for you.

    Look forward to the next post. Maybe we need some pics too -- enough of the glamor girl pictures posted here before you left. Let's see face shots with beads of sweat and layers of grime.

  2. Thanks Dad, for complimenting Heather for making fun of me! Don't reward her for it! Gah -- we have such a loving family.

    Heather, don't worry. I totally believe you about getting used to the spiders. Better bring that macho attitude home with you though, cause I'm not going to kill any more for you!

    But really, it sounds like you're having a great time! Can't wait for the next post!

  3. Dad: Thanks? You gave me a compliment and a dis! Always trying to keep me grounded I see! Hehe! And yeah... that picture is embarassingly unaccurate! And too huge! I´m going to see if I can find a way to upload pictures on these snail computers. It might be too much for them to handle.... But I know that readers would always appreciate one picture over my thousand words of ramble so it might be worth it!

    Thank the lord SOMEONE has some faith in me!
    And don´t worry, when I come home, I´ll bring my machete and then confrontation will be unnecessary because everything will be sprinting in the opposite direction with pure terror of THE EXTERMINATOR!!!!