solo volunteering in Peru

Hello readers, or should I say ‘reader’?  The blog is back!

South and Central America are open for travel and I leave on Saturday for 14 weeks of volunteering!

When I returned from my Midlife Crisis in Asia two years ago Husband hoped that I would just adopt the normal symptoms of a midlife crisis e.g., excessive Botox, inappropriately short skirts and fancying my son’s friends. However deep down we both knew that my desire to see the world and immerse myself in different cultures had been heightened not quelled by my trip.

So this is my itinerary:

Peru-Street dog rescue

Ecuador-Sea Turtle conservation

Galapagos Islands-Galapagos Tortoise conservation

Costa Rica-Rescue centre for trafficked wild animals

Belize-Coral reef conservation

Planning this trip has been very stressful .  The entry requirements for each country change daily and trying to find somewhere I can book a  PCR test in the middle of a jungle in Costa Rica has been a nightmare.

Finding travel insurance was also a challenge. I have ended up with a fully comprehensive ‘High Risk’ policy normally reserved for journalists going into war zones. That went down well at home…

I have also had to learn Spanish as no one on these continents speaks English. I say ‘learnt’ but, I have sat through 20 hours of lesson on Zoom trying to remember some of the Spanish I learnt for O-Level 40 years ago. By the end of the course the other students were happily constructing sentences in the future tense, and I could say ‘me llamo Jayne, donde esta la farmacia?’ (Where is the chemists?)  What more do I need?

It appears that there aren’t any direct flights to get anywhere in South America so my routes between countries are tortuous e.g., having to fly up to Miami and back to land in the adjacent country from where I started before getting on another plane and repeating the exercise. Crossing land borders is a no-

no.  Apparently these are reserved for drug traffickers and I have so many drugs in my First Aid kit that I might well be stopped.

Even worse my baggage allowance is restricted due to travelling on some very small planes. I have had to jettison any vaguely fashionable attire and am just left with a few items from the sale rail in Millets and some orthopaedic footwear. If my feet are cut off all Instagram photos for the next 3 months, you will know why.  I am wearing the same shoes as my mother.

This trip has required more vaccines including the dreaded Yellow Fever jab. This is a live vaccine which carries serious health risks. The doctor explained that he had only known of 2 people dying from it. If he had been 82 the odds would not have been too bad, but he looked about 32. Apparently if I turned yellow within 28 days, I had 2 dash to the nearest A & E. I told Husband this, in the hope he would reassure me, but sadly he just said, ‘Oh crikey I won’t catch it will I?’

My next blog will be from Cusco in Peru, a city so high that altitude sickness is a real problem. If it is incomprehensible, please forgive me. I might be grappling with an oxygen mask. Hasta la vista.

Jayne Webb

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