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Volunteering Central America

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Just in case… My journey from Havana to Merida, Mexico should have been pretty straightforward; a 21/2 hour direct flight. However when I walked out on to the Cuban runway, in the searing heat, I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to make it. My transportation was the oldest plane, barring a Spitifre, I have ever seen. It had 2 dirty propellers and the fuselage looked like it had skidded along a runway on numerous occasions. Before boarding I took a quick selfie and sent it to my family, so that if I did disappear over the Gulf of Mexico they would know why. My concerns over flight safety were heightened when I noticed that the plane had ashtrays in the arm rests which, on inspection, had not been cleaned out. I was very relieved when, just over 2 hours later we made a bumpy, noisy but nonetheless safe…

When Tom Owen’s Caye, a one-acre island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, came into sight it really did look like the set for a Castaway movie. It was an idyllic paradise of tall coconut palms, golden sands and little round cabanas. This was to be my home for two weeks. There were 17 other ‘castaways’ on the boat and a separate boat with a crew of 12. Accommodation was basic, as expected. In each cabana was a raised stone platform with a mattress on, and not much else. Showers were cold rain water and the generator for electricity was switched on at 5pm for a few hours. Most importantly there was absolutely no WIFI nor phone signal. I knew that this was going to be the longest I had ever been disconnected from the outside world. The rest of the group were mainly in their mid-twenties, of all…

Sloth in treeI 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…