I am pleased to announce that I am still ‘ringworm free’ and have now moved to work in a wild animal rescue centre. This is the most amazing place. Sick and injured animals are brought here by members of the public or the Costa Rican government. Some have been trafficked or injured and others have been kept as pets. The aim is always to release them back into the wild. Sadly this is not always possible. There is a Sloth that fell out of a tree as a baby, and hence requires physio on his back legs every morning, and there is a Capuchin monkey who was tragically kept in a bar and fed on alcohol and cigarettes and is now too domesticated to fend for himself.
The work here is enormously rewarding, we feed and clean out over 100 animals every day. Although the policy is that we must never touch them, being up close to monkeys, parakeets, sloths, raccoons, lizards, deer and wild pigs feels a real privilege. These residents live in complete luxury and eat the most delicious combinations of fresh fruits and vegetables, which we chop up every morning. I wish the same could be said for the humans…
Living conditions here are grim. Fortunately I have my own hut, which has chicken wire for the windows and a metal bed. I have spent many an hour stuffing the gaps in the wire with torn up plastic bags to limit the size of the creatures that can invade in the night. I am now safe in the knowledge that a scorpion would struggle to get in.
Unfortunately I have to trek miles to reach the communal (cold) showers and washrooms. If I need to make a trip in the middle of the night, by the time I have donned rubber boots (for the snakes)and found my torch, I am so awake, and stressed, on my return that I can’t go back to sleep. I pass the hours squashing Fire ants as they climb up the walls and my bed posts, because when they do bite, it hurts like hell. The fact that the place is in a jungle, and by a river, also means that humans are haute cuisine for armies of mosquitoes. My legs look like I have got the measles, even though I virtually bathe in Deet repellent every morning.
The food here is also a huge issue, there isn’t really any. I hesitate to call the cook a ‘cook’ as she could not boil an egg. Every meal is a bowl of slop in various shades of brown with the odd lettuce leaf. I asked the manager the other day why the animals ate better than the volunteers, he replied that there was a much bigger food budget for them. I have even been known to pinch the odd hunk of watermelon out of a monkey’s bowl, just so that I don’t leave here with scurvy.
Three times this week I have escaped from the confines of the centre, called the one Uber within 30 miles of here, and headed to the only store around, to stock up on chocolate and crisps and swig a quick cappuccino. I might be thinner when I get home but I won’t have any teeth left.
The highlight of this week has undoubtably been meeting Ruth, only the second English person I have met since leaving home. She is an inspirational lady aged 78, who travels all over the world on her own and has got some great stories to tell. Incredibly she lives in Warlingham and comes to Lingfield, where I live, every week to do a craft club. What are the chances of that?
Sorry to my friends and family who are hoping this will be my last trip, so they won’t have to politely read my blogs anymore, I want to be Ruth…