Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crazy Life

Thursday, November 4th was a very exciting time for everyone.  Jack Hannah, a zoologist from Columbus, Ohio and who has his own TV show called Into the Wild and who is the director of the Columbus Zoo (which just surpassed San Diego Zoo as the best zoo in the U.S.) came with his camera crew to film a show at Taricaya.  It was quite the experience :). I am starting to believe more and more in fate.  I wanted to do turtles that day, but Bridget, a staff member, put me on animal feeding instead because there weren`t really any turtle activities.  It couldn`t have worked out better.  The film crew wanted to film us preparing the food in the animal kitchen.  So as me, Bridget, Sam, and Sarah were chopping things up and preparing food the camera crew came up the stairs and started setting up.  They didn`t give us any direction so we just tried to act normal.  Earlier we were saying we should all chop really stupidly and do stupid things, but none of us ended up doing it haha.  The camera man would zoom in really close to the food we were chopping and then zoom in really close to our faces.  It took all my strength to not crack up laughing.  I think I made a really serious face that was kind of bug eyed instead hehe.  One of the volunteers tried to play it cool and toss a piece of apple into the scale and just knocked it over.  It was all very funny.  Then Jack Hannah`s wife and daughter came up and started helping us.  I didn`t know if I was supposed to interact with them or not on camera so I kind of just laughed when they said things.  After the camera people left we continued to prepare the food.  As I was animal feeding the parrots the male parrot attacked my head because his mate is pregnant.  So if you can imagine me trying to be quite because the camera crew was near and wacking away a bird and putting the feeding bowl on my head to protect myself... please do.  Jack Hannah wanted to film some of the baby turtles that had hatched being released so me and Laura went up to the lab to mark them.  We mark them by cutting a little triangular section on their shells.  When they grow up the turtles will still have that mark so we can identify when they were born.  Then Jack Hannah and his family came up and me and Laura were filmed telling him about the turtles and showing his family how to mark them.  It`s funny how they pose you doing things.  After Jack`s (yes, I can call him that after I introduced myself lol) family released the turtles and no one was by the boat, me and Laura were directed to pretend to be looking at them releasing turtles so they could get a shot.  Before Jack left he was telling us how he has been all around the world.  He said he`s filmed some 400 shows and that only about 20 have been about a single place.  He said he thought they definitely had enough footage of Taricaya for 1 show.  The show is supposed to air in January or February.  I can`t wait to see it.  It`s going to be hilarious! 

As everyone was waving goodbye to Jack`s boat, a giant grasshopper landed on me.  I didn`t want to freak out so I just stood there as it crawled up my arm and behind my neck to my other arm.  Finally, Stuart decided to get it off me.  Instead of just swiping it, he pushed it against my skin.  It has little hooks all on its legs so it did not feel good lol.  Then the grasshopper bit me!  I didn`t know they could bite but it actually pulled my skin with it until it let go.  It was such a weird sensation I got shiveries!

Friday, November 5th was Taricaya`s 9 year anniversary so we were going to release the turtles that were born in our beach.  We marked 547 of them that morning.  When we were marking them Heather found a turtle with 5 legs!  On the fifth leg it had 2 feet!  We called it the 5 legged freak haha in an endearing way of course.  After we had marked all the turtles we went to the turtle beach to check it out and make sure everything was okay.  It rained a little so there were muddy spots.  Zack, Simon, Heather, Amanda, and I just had to go mud slidding in the oh-so-perfect mud.  Then we pretended to be turtles and crawled into the water.  It was a lot of effort haha it`s hard being a turtle. 

Later that day we went to release the turtles.  It was a beautiful experience.  It was funny though because some turtles went the complete opposite way of the river.  We had to correct them.  So when a whole bunch of volunteers pretended to be turtles again, Heather and I were the confused turtles and just went around in circles.  I put a green bucket on my back as my shell.  I was wearing my last pair of clean clothes... but it was well worth getting them dirty and wet. 

That night was a huge BBQ to celebrate.  It was delicious!  There was Sangria, different meats, bread, guacamole, chips, and potatoe salad. 

When we were driving into Puerto on Saturday we hit a sandbar.  Everyone got jolted forward.  Heather, a couple other volunteers, and I jumped out of the boat (my jeans got soaked) and helped push the boat back to water.  It was really funny.  Also on the way to Puerto Heather and I made up this whole medieval story that included everyone on the boat.  We had princesses, princes, jesters, witches, love, evil plotting, and more!  hehe it was quite fun and people were wondering why we even started the tale... but then they remembered it was me and Heather and expected nothing less haha. 

There is a new favorite restaurant I have... El Hornito!! It is a pizza place.  Oh. My. God.  It is so good!  I got a hawaiian pizza and I almost died with delight from good food.  The restaurant also has mexican food that I am going to try tonight. 

As you can imagine, in the jungle there are many creepy crawlers waiting to surprise you.  So it is not uncommon to be getting ready for bed and hear a scream from a few bungalows down.  ¨What is it!?¨ we yell as we go running to the bungalow that is getting attacked by an unwanted visitor.  This happened to our neighbors one night and they screamed for Heather and I to go help them.  We rushed to their room to find a gecko crawling around.  The capturing of the gecko was a lot of us running around, screaming, and laughing.  Heather finally grabbed it behind the neck and threw it out the door.  The gecko was still on the deck though so one of our neighbors tried to get it in a bucket, but ended up just chopping off it`s tail!  The tail twitched insanely for about 10 minutes.  Heath grabbed the gecko and put him in the forest, but that didn´t keep him away!  About a week later, when our neighbors had moved out, Heather and I went in their room and saw the tailless gecko on the wall again.  He´s a persistant little fellow hehe

We recently got 3 new spider monkeys to rehabilitate.  One older one used to be a pet so it is super clingy.  The other two are 4 month old baby spider monkeys.  They were stripped away from their mothers too early so they are also clingy.  One day when I was feeding them it took me 10 minutes to get out of the cage because I had monkeys clinging all over me.  I one point I had two monkeys stacked on top of my left sholder.  Both of their faces were on my cheek.  It was super cool.  It broke my heart when I left because the older one just did not want to let go.  I wanted to take him to my room and keep him, but I sadly had to refrain. 

Some of the new volunteers don´t like Muneca, our yound howler monkey.  I love Muneca!  We were all in Nicol´s and Muneca´s cage and they were trying to get Nicol´s attention and would cringe when Muneca came because she was being a rascal.  She bites a little, but it doesn´t hurt too bad.  She was biting me, but then I took her tail and bit it to show I was dominant.  To my surprise it worked!  After that she was really clingy towards me and kept licking me hehehe it tickled.  She also kept trying to go down my t-shirt.  Finally, I opened my collar a little more for her and she just crawled right in.  She chilled in there a moment and then crawled out the bottom like I was giving birth to her.  I love that monkey:)

In the jungle, we get quite inventive for games and activities to entertain ourselves.  One night, when me and Heather got back from our second caiman hunt, we invented board running!  There was a piece of wood leaned up against the lounge´s roof at a slant.  We entertained ourselves for about 30 minutes by just running up this piece of wood.  It started out as who could get the most steps up the wood.  Then it was how high you could get.  Then we were really getting to be dare devils and slidding back down it while standing up and doing tricks.  It was great fun.

As Heather and I have both mentioned before... we miss and love food haha.  Heather and I attempted to make s´mores one night.  After dinner, we snuck away to our bungalow and prepared the feast.  We lit 4 candles in the middle of our room for the heat we needed to crisp our sugary mellow of marsh.  It was a weird blend of flavors, but it worked.  For some reason the marshmellows had a fruity aftertaste even though they were original flavored.  We were also using Peruvian vanilla crackers, Peruvian chocolate coins, and asain peanut butter haha.  It was a treat though and I would probably do it again on a special occasion. 

That same night, Heather and I had a very unwanted visitor in our room.  As we were getting ready for bed Heather saw a huge spider, slightly bigger than my palm, underneath one of the flaps of her towel.  It was like a baby tarantula, but with thinner legs.  It took us a half hour of getting mentally prepared and warmed with boots, pants, gloves, a broom, a dustpan, shoes, and our neighbor, Anna, to kill the monster.  Heath ended up killing it with my shoe as Anna and I watched in fear of it scurring if she missed.  Heath is the best. 

Every Sunday we unload the boat for supplies.  So as we were finishing up unloading, somehow mud throwing got involved.  The girls were being attacked by the wrath of a frenchman!  Not really, we were just messing around, but it sounded better.  Anyways, all the girls were getting mud smeared on them by this one guy.  We of course retaliated.  When we were through we had to take tribal jungle pictures.  So armed with machettes and posing in the trees we took pictures of tribe hen house.  Then we decided to chase random people with the machettes.  Some people would actually get legitimate fear in their eyes as they saw 6 mud covered, machette clad, crazy women screaming and running towards them.  3 of us then decided to run through the kitchen filled with people.  We all got stared at as we ran from the front door of the kitchen to the back screaming and flailing our weapons.  Only one word can describe it... AWESOME.

Later I had forgotten something in the kitchen so was sprinting from my room to the kitchen.  Heather had just walked down the steps and one of our neighbors was sitting at the top one smoking.  As I got right below the kitchen to the wood planks, my foot got caught in the space between the planks so I lost my balance.  My other foot went in between the planks too and I rammed my stomach/whole body into the first step.  It must have looked hilarious, but our neighbor kept asking ¨Are you okay!?¨  I was too busy laughing  to answer and ended up upside down on a step I was laughing so hard.  I learned my lesson though... slow down before you reach the planks haha.

A new project we´ve been doing is setting up motion sensor cameras to spot wildlife.  I felt very scientific as Heather and I programmed the cameras to put them up.  I imagined myself doing something like that sometime in the future. 

As a break from Taricaya, we occasionally head to Amazon Planet for a breather.  A group of us headed their when it had just gotten dark.  We were walking in a line on the path and didn´t think anything of the walk we have made hundreds of times.  It was Simon in front, me, Jeremy, Heather, and Anna was last.  We are just walking along when I see this coiled snake raising his had and his moth open right by Simon´s leg and me heading straight for its open mouth with my next step!  I screamed and pushed everyone back.  We thought it was a posonous snake because the poisonous ones usually stand their ground, which this one definitely did.  And the crazy thing is that I wouldn´t have seen it if my mom hadn´t sent me a new head lamp in a package which I received a few days before!  We thought that the snake was a Bushmaster and were freaked out because that is an extremely poisonous and aggresive snake.  Simon was the only one on the other side of the snake and we couldn´t get him to our side because of the forest around us and the snake was too close to us.  Therefore, we sent Heather and Anna to got get Daniel.  The people that were left watched the snake carefully in case it moved.  We also made a lot of noise so nothing came and attacked us from the forest.  Nando ended up coming back with Anna and had brought with him a long green branch.  He had cut all the leafs off of it.  He told us to back up and with one big downward stroke of the branch the snake was dead.  We discovered the snake was actually a Ferdalance (The 3rd most poisonous snake in our area.  The 1st is the coral and the second is the Bushmaster.) and showed us its fangs.  They were as long as my finger nail.  If it had bitten us and injected all of its poison we would have died.  Nando also said that when people are walking the first person wakes up the snake (Simon), the second makes it angry(Me), and the third usually gets bitten (Jeremy!).  It flucuates a little so me, Jeremy, or even Heather might have gotten bitten.  And the only reason I saw the snake was because of my new headlamp... THANK YOU MOM!!!  Later, I saw a pic of someone´s leg that was bitten by a Ferdalance.  Their whole leg was black and grey and rotted away by the poison.  Considering the hospital is two hours away and it´s not that great of a hospital someone could have died. 

Here we are not only learning spanish, we are learning the different dialects of english speakers.  It is so funny to hear and say the differences between British english and American english.  They call their mom´s ¨mum¨ and spell it with a u too.  Heather and I were talking about q-tips and one guy thought we were talking about a cue from a pool table and putting it in our ears.  They call q-tips cotton swabs.  There are many  more but I can´t think of anymore at the moment.

Sending mail internationally is an interesting experience.  My mom sent one package on Oct. 30th which I got on November 12th.  She sent another package before on Oct. 14th and I didn´t receive it until November 14th.  The second package I got had Halloween masks for me and Heather, but since Halloween had passed, we couldn´t resist but to use them anyways.  We put them on and pretended to be birds outside.  We then ran through the kitchen full of people and decided to attack Zack because he had bread and we were birds haha.  We chased him over a table and around the outside of the kitchen.  Thank you Ria and Mom for the masks:)

I will write again after lunch!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I dislike coming up with titles...

One of the worst things here is having to deal with ticks.  Those sneaky little buggers get everywhere.  I`ve found them all the way to the top of my leg when I`ve been wearing pants.  So when one of the staff led us through the forest on a wild goose chase and off a trail I got a little peeved.  I was especially peeved when Heather and I got back and found baby ticks all over our clothes.  Heather counted over 50 on her.  I was too angry to count.  We spent a long time picking them off ourselves and smashing them between our finger nails.  Luckily, I didn`t find any embedded in my body.  The staff member made up for it later by giving us chocolate haha.

The Friday before Halloween we were having a Halloween party because a lot of volunteers were leaving on Saturday.  Earlier that day Heather and I made donuts for the party.  And of course... lost in translation... I screwed up the recipe a tad haha.  One of the cooks, Shelya, handed me a container with white stuff in it and said a sentence in spanish.  I heard the word ¨half¨¨ and so poured half the container in.  I actually was only supposed to put half a spoonful and the white substance was salt... ooooppppssss haha.  We tried to get some of the salt out and put more sugar into the recipe, but then we ran out of sugar.  Just my luck.  Guess I should study spanish a bit more;)  The donuts turned out pretty well though.  When they were done we attached them to string for a game.  That night, everyone had a partner and as one held the donut attached to the string, the other partner tried to eat the donut without using their hands.  Then they would switch.  Everyone had fun and enjoyed the game. 

Everyone`s costumes were really creative.  Heather was an African woman and I was a Native American Indian.  There are some bows and arrows laying around the bungalows that some old volunteers made so I strapped some to my back, put my hair in braids (thank you Heather), put some feathers on, and marked myself tribally.  I would have to say the best costumes were the ones that people made from the jungle.  Most of the volunteers were in the kitchen, when two leaf covered boys with patterns drawn on their chest charged into the room.  Another boy and a girl followed a bit later.  It was great:)  We took videos of them dancing and yelling tribally. 

The next morning, I woke up to Yuri asking me for help.  Some tourists had come and wanted to go to the canopy but an elderly woman wouldn`t be able to make it and so was inquiring about a tour.  I searched for Alejo and asked him if he could do a tour, but his english isn`t that good so he said I should do it.  So with my hair still in braids and my face still slightly painted from the night before I gave my first guided tour.  It was really fun and a good experience.  I was actually surprised how much I knew about Taricaya and the animals (I must admit some of it was b.s.ed a tad haha).  I also found a whole new respect for people that give tours... they really have to know their stuff.

Lunch that day was absolutely delicious!  It was a very American meal.  The staff said they would do the regular tasks if we made lunch so Heather, Laura, Yuri, and I went to work on making lunch.  I grilled chicken (I burnt my leg because oil popped on me, but I learned my lesson!) while the others cut vegetables and made a pasta salad to die for.  We made chicken sandwiches with cabbage and tomatoe on them. A staff member also made mayonnaise (which Peruvians put on everything... fries, pasta, rice, salad, etc.).  Heath even set the table and Alejo bought Sprite and Sublime for us.  It was a great meal!

That night Alejo made us PIZZAAAAAAAA!!! I love pizza and miss it a lot.  It tastes even better when you haven`t had it in months. 

There was another Halloween party on Halloween.  Our fellow American, Zack, really got in the Halloween spirit and got a gord (basically a pumpkin) in town and carved it.  He also cooked the seeds.  It was a real treat.  We went to Amazon Planet for the party.  That night I was a ninja with a buff covering my face (thank you Hanna for the buff you gave me!) and a machette strapped to my back.  Heather was a banana.  Both of our costumes were highly creative considering we decided to go to the party 2 minutes before the boat left hehe.  At Amazon Planet there were some guests from Puerto Maldonado, too.  There were 3 Peruvian girls and they could DANCE!  I was so impressed and tried to learn from them.  My hips just don`t move like theirs haha.  They also have this type of dance where a girl sticks a piece of something (at the time all we had was toilet paper, hey we`re in the jungle) in their jeans and dance while a guy tries to light the something on fire with a lighter.  I don`t understand how this can ever end good. 

The stars have been amazing lately.  I honestly believe I have never seen so many stars in my life.  It is strange too because the constalations are different.  Even the moon is different.  It is sideways down here haha.  Here it sometimes shines like a smiley face. 

This past week I got to clean Sid`s pool.  Sid is our otter.  Cleaning a pool in any cage is hard work.  You get buckets and fill them up with water and pour the water into the forest.  As you can imagine, Sid`s pool was pretty big.  When we had finally emptied almost the whole pool, we had a break and I played/ wrestled with Sid in like a centimeter of water.  Sid would get out of the pool and sort of run away, but then I`d crouch down to his level like an animal and he`d come charging at me.  It was awesome.  He`d bite me and I`d ruffle him up.  His bite only really hurt when he started going for my stomach.  He is just playing though.  Sid has very sharp teeth and if he wanted to do some damage he definitely could. 

I was also part of a team that cleaned the monkey cages and put branches back up that they had knocked over.  I was in the capuchin monkey cage and those devils are sneaky!  We all had gone to one side of the cage and they were kind of near the door (that was closed) and we had all turned our backs.  But a minute later when I looked around they were quietly sneaking toward the door.  I had to barracade the door with branches so they didn`t have a chance. 

One night, a cake was made for a volunteer that was leaving the next day.  We were all eating the cake when I picked up a bite with my spoon and saw an extra dark brown section.  ¨Oh, a burnt piece of chocolate,¨ I thought.  I was definitely wrong.  As I bit into it I got the most awful taste in my mouth.  I spit it out to find a bug.  I didn`t want to look at it too much but I think it was a cockroach.  I ran to the bathroom to quickly dispose of the taste.  It was extremely disgusting at the moment, but now I think it`s hilarious haha.

Hope all is well with everyone!


Tutatuta, Parapapa

Above are two songs that are quite popular at Taricaya.  I found out there names yesterday and couldn`t stop laughing at the sound of them.  If you can, you should listen to them.  The song tutatuta has a special dance to it where everyone gets in a congo line and dances.  The song parapapa has a beat that gets stuck in EVERYONES head.  As soon as it gets out of my head someone else starts singing it and it instantly is back hehe. 

Toast is delicous.  Not just any kind of toast, but the grilled toast in a pan.  You see, we don`t have a toaster.  So how else to make toast but smother it in butter on both sides and plop a slice, or two, or three, into a pan until it is slightly blackened on either side.  Yummmmmmm.

As I continue to bird watch I enjoy it more and more.  I wish I could just see them and identify them immediately like most of the staff.  Some can even identify them by their call.

A very fun activity we have recently been assigned is collecting turtles from the artificial turtle beach.  Our turtle program is a very big deal to us.  We are protecting the Taricaya turtle (the turtle we are named after) from poachers.  Volunteers before us camped out all night on beaches to protect the turtle eggs and find them.  Once found, the volunteers brought the eggs back and put them in our artificial beach where they are safe from harm.   They just recently began to hatch.  We check the 45 turtle nests we have by uncovering them to the first layer of eggs.  If the first layer of eggs haven`t hatched then the ones below it haven`t either.  If an egg is very dark then it is about to hatch.  We also check each nest for rotten eggs that worms have gotten into.  It is truly amazing to see these little turtles hatch.  If they are part way out of the shell then you just leave them in their nest and they start scurrying out.  Once one starts to hatch then more usually follow.  What is it about baby things that make them so cute?  I named my babies coming out of the nest I was checking.  My first born was Tortuga, after her mother (my nickname here and also means turtle). 

One afternoon I was part of a team that had to rebuild the steps from the boat to Taricaya.  We joked we were rebuilding the stairway to heaven.  I say ¨steps¨ but I really mean terraces.  We chopped away at the hillside and filled sandbags to put in strategic positions so when the hard rains come our hill doesn`t become one slippery mud slide.  We worked hard on our steps, but when the rain hits it`s hard not to slip. 

Things decompose very fast in the jungle.  On the hike to the spider monkeys, Heather, Rachel, and I were searching for a dead snake that Yannik had seen the night before.  We were searching for awhile when we came upon a swarm of all different types of bugs.  We knew thats where the dead snake had to have been.  After searching through the dense layer of leaves on the ground all we found were snake ribs spread in different places and two snake fangs.  Those bugs had had a feast all night.

Heather and I have a roommate from Japan now.  Her name is Yuri and she is a very sweet girl.  She is here for a month and although our room is small it is perfect for the three of us:)

Killing big or fast bugs is always an adventure in the jungle.  When Heather and I were deep cleaning our room for Yuri`s arrival we came across this medium size (I say medium but it was actually the size of three quarter sized coins) black spider with my toiletries.  Not only was it on the larger side of medium, it was extremely quick.  It took Heather and me 15 minutes armed with empty pringles cans, a water bottle, and gloves to kill the spider haha.

I will return after lunch with more to say on my blog!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I don´t know what to title this... so PAPAYA.

We now have a swing!  Well... more like a long piece of rope tied to a tree with a stick at the bottom to sit on, but still a swing!  A couple of volunteers who are always creative climbed the tree that holds our water tower and attached the rope.  I swing and try and grab things off the ground and see if I can grasp whatever it is I´m aiming at... Just call me Tarzan:)

I have never smashed an egg on anyone´s head... that was until Laura´s birthday!  I think I have mentioned the Peruvian tradition of smashing eggs on the birthday person´s head and pushing their face in the cake.  I was honored to be one of the people to smash an egg on Laura´s head hehe although she might have not felt too honored by it.

We are starting a new crop experiment at New Farm.  Most of the farmers that have grass on their land don´t know what to do with it after they get rid of their goats or other farm animals.  Therefore, they just move on to another plot of land and cut down more forest.  If we can find a sustainable crop to plant into land that was once covered by the long grass then the farmers wouldn´t have to cut down the precious forest.  What we are doing at New Farm is planting different types of plants in meter wide by 100 meter long sections cut into the grass.  Guess who got to cut the meter long sections with machettes?   We did!:) It was 20 volunteers cutting for 2 hours with machettes in the hot sun and with the over friendly flies landing in our ears and sneaking into our nose to only cut one fourth the grass we needed to cut.  It was hard work, but always rewarding when I think about how this project will aid in saving the rain forest. 

Stuart gave a caiman presentation that was fascinating!  The group Crocodilians, which includes Gharials (they have a long, thing snout and are found in India and Pakistan), Alligators, and Crocodiles, are the second oldest group.  The first is turtles.  Caiman are in the same category as Alligators and are found in the Americas.  Caiman have a bony plate over the ribs which alligators don´t have on the stomach.  Here are some interesting facts about caiman, but I am just going to list them so if they bore you feel free to skip over them haha: if they are not moving they can sit under water for 20 minutes without coming up for air, but if they are swimming they have to come up sooner for air.  They have a secondary palat in their throat which blocks the water from entering their  throat and drowning them when they open their mouth under water.  They have two eyelids, one is an invisible membrane so they can see under water.  Their front feet do not have webbing in between their toes, but the back feet do.  To swim they tuck their from feet under themselves and the back feet work for steering.  Their tail provides the force they need to swim.  Caiman are not slow like many people think.  On land they can ambush predators.  They are quick but if are chasing their prey for 50 to 60 meters they get tired.  Caiman grab their prey side ways.  They cannot pick up food off the ground.  They can influence the sex of their offspring by controlling the temperature the eggs are at.  Out of a nest of 30 to 40 eggs only 1 or 2 survive and that is with mom looking out for them in the first 6 months.  Out of 40 that survive the first 6 months, only 5 will make it to 5 years old.  And just a little warning, if you only see the head of a caiman... their body is 7 times the size of their head.  So beware! 

After Stuart´s caiman talk... WE WENT ON A CAIMAN HUNT!  We have to look for caiman at night because that is when they are awake and hunt.  All the volunteers were squished together on the boat with Gigo driving and Stuart at the head of the boat with a flashlight.  The volunteers were directed to not make a sound and be very still.  We also couldn´t have our lights on and couldn´t move until the caiman was on the boat.  When Stuart spotted a caiman (their eyes reflect orange when you shine light at them) he directed Gigo to get closer.  When the boat was right by the caiman, Stuart would lean over and grab the caiman right behind the neck.  One time he chased one into a bush.  I swear that man is fearless.  He ended up catching two caiman.  The first one was a spectacled caiman and then a smooth fronted caiman.  As the hunt was going on there was a lovely display of lightening to the northeast.  It was a perfect night.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this... (i probably repeat stories all the time and I apologize) but one of my new favorite snacks is peanut butter and rellena cookies.  Rellena cookies are fantastic!  They have many different flavors but I love the ones that are a chocolate cookie on the outside and have a mint creme of delightfulness on the inside.  And with peanut butter it is GOLDEN.

Ok so as many of you know BASKETBALL IS THE BEST SPORT IN THE WORLD!!!!!!... at least to me haha.  So one normal (well, normal for the jungle) day when I was taking a siesta I heard this hammering outside and went to check it out.  I walked out to find this beautiful basketball hoop being built.  3 volunteers, Sally, Simon, and Zack, were building it.  The pole was bamboo and the back board was wood.  Zack had bought an iron hoop for it in town.  Simon had dug a 6 ft hole in the ground to support it.  I helped a little by picking up the extra pieces of bamboo and getting the hoop in the hole but i felt guilty for not helping even more because the basketball hoop is one of the most excitingly beautiful things I have ever seen.  I can´t help but get this big feeling of glee when I look at it.  The ground is pretty good for bouncing a ball, too.  I was so happy I attacked the 3 volunteers with hugs.  After it was put up we measured how tall it was and it was exactly 10 ft!!!! It was fate:)

Lately, our generator has been a tad faulty.  But as we tend to do in the jungle... we turned a situation that could have been bad into a great thing.  One night the generator went out an hour early.  We lit candles around the kitchen to give some light and distract the bugs from attacking our bodies.  Then two volunteers with angelic voices, Lucy and Cecile, played guitar and sang.  It was beautiful.  It felt like we were at a summer camp or something haha.  Raul drew this really cool picture that is hanging in our room now (he was going to get rid of it and I couldn´t let him do that).  It was of everyone watching Lucy and Cecile sing.  Sally also got her harmonica out and a few volunteers tried it out.  I think I might buy one when I get home:)

I got to do butterflies again one morning only instead of setting up the traps I was on a mission to catch them.  Armed with a net, I set out on the trails with Yessi and Jane.  We caught 4 butterflies in the traps.  I got to get one out of a trap.  I was so scared I was going to hurt the butterfly because it´s wings are so delicate.  I captured it safely though.  We chased down two butterflies with our nets but barely missed them.  Those mariposas are cunning little dodgers.

I had my first encounter with a snake!  I was part of a group of people that was making a 3 foot perimeter clearing around the future turtle enclosure sight.  I was raking leaves to clear them and flung a bunch behind me when suddenly a snake appeared.  I think I might have raked it haha.  It was red and grey and Yessi said it was probably poisonious. 

I love you all!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fun in the Peruvian Sun

I had the opportunity to walk around the perimeter of Taricaya the other day.  It took us 3 hours to walk around 457 hectares.  It was full of adventure hehe.  We started at 7:30 in the morning so it wasn`t wanting to die hot.  It was cool seeing different parts of the jungle.  We got to see some Primary Forest at the back of Taricaya.  Secondary forest is the usual Taricaya scenary in which you can hardly see of the trail.  In primary forest you can see 60ft or more across the ground.  Some interesting things happened on the hike.  First, a wasp got caught in my hair and stung my head twice and then I tried to swipe it out, but got stung on my hand.  At the same time a wasp was stinging another volunteer through her shirt and so she just took it off and we all started booking it down the trail to get away from the wasps.  Second, a volunteer got a really bad sting and wanted to go back and so Rachel took her back and said she`d meet us at the spider monkey camp.  We (Heather, Sally, Lucy, and I) reach the camp and are just sitting and talking when we see Dixon (a spider monkey) five trees away.  Spider monkeys can be very dangerous.  It was either Dixon, or the alpha male Wollie, who attacked one of the cooks face and sent another volunteer to the hospital.  Dixon started getting closer and closer until me, Sally, and Heath were standing around the table with him on it.  We had our machettes grasped tight.  Mine was backwards so I would just club him if he attached.  Lucy was smart and had started unzipping a tent and diving in it.  The rest of us decided that was probably a good idea and so clumped together by it.  First, Heather went and then Sally dove in.  Then it was me witha  backwards machette and a spider monkey 4 ft from me that started ¨ooo¨ing at me.  It was terrifying.  I couldn´t lift up the tent flap without turning my eyes from Dixon so I was yelling in the tent that they should lift it and then I dove in with the machette and accidently hit Lucy with the machette.  It was burning hot in the tent so we tried to push the over back a little from the inside.  Dixon was chilling right outside the tent.  We sat there and waited for Rachel.  When we heard her, we yelled and warned her of the situation.  Luckily she had grabbed 3 nets from by the cage.  We figured that maybe Dixon was just hungry so we threw some of the food we were to put by the cage to distract him.  It worked somewhat and we clumped together with me and Sally walking backwards with nets.  Sally was saying ¨We should probably stick together¨when we turned around and saw Lucy and Rachel booking it hahaha.  We continued to keep our eyes on him and walk backwards until we got to the log to cross the creek.  Just my luck, I slipped and fell and my leg went half way into the water.  After that little adventure the rest of the walk was pretty mild.  We did see a bunch of wild squirrel monkeys though. 

I have learned a game down here that is called musical bumps.  It certainly does give you some bumps in the form of bruises haha.  It`s like musical chairs only when the music stops you have to get on the floor as quickly as possible.  It`s very fun:)

The river is always a fun place to swim, but the water level is slowly rising because its the rainy season.  One day Laura, Yannik, and I walked to a sandbar in the middle of the river and then floated down.  Laura and I also invented an anti-caiman dance to protect ourselves from the caiman.  It works because we haven´t been bitten yet;)

On what appeared to be a regular afternoon, I had another strange encounter with the spider monkeys.  Zack, Hersha, and I went to the spider monkeys to put food in their feeding bucket.  I was armed with a net to catch any rowdy monkeys.  They started coming from the tops of the trees and when we backed off they followed.  Zack had to tie the rope attached to the food bucket and while Zack was in the cage to do it Wollie, the alpha male, came and sat on the door.  Me and Hersha backed off as to not upset him.  When Wollie moved, Zack came out and started walkng towards us, but Wollie started going toward him so Zack stopped.  Zack told us to remain calm as Wollie climbed up Zack and sat on him for 2 minutes.  When Wollie got off him he came toward me and I stuck the net in front of my body in case he wanted to attack.  Zack got around him though and we started slowly walkng away... keeping our eyes on him.  He followed us half way back to Taricaya (about 1.5km)!  The whole time I was a little nervous because only Zack had a net because we had to leavce the other 2.  I grabbed a good sized stick to protect myself if needed.  It was really eerie when Wollie would gt a little behind and the sprint at us.  Also, how he would walk like a human sometimes.  Zack and I made a video of it on his camera.  He commentated and I was the camera woman.  I felt like the person that always dies in scary movies hahah.