INTI WARRA YASSI – SUN MOON STARS
Upon our arrival to Ambue Ari we were given packets of reading to do on the park and the animals there. Into the night (while the other volunteers slept, approximately 7:30 PM) we read and let the anticipation build; what cat would be ours? The first night in the cabins was far from luxury. Our main concerns quickly became getting the net and sheets set up properly on our beds-and despite what our mothers have tried to teach us-it was not so easy. Nets with holes, the struggle of the four corner stretch sheet, a giant termite nest above Rosa´s bed, and the stench of muddy/mildew clothes (that never dissapated) were among some of those challenges. Eventually our cabins became our little getaway, with us also giving into sleep as soon as the sun went down.
We all had different challenges with our cats. Rosa and I, Sophia, had the Gatitoes, two small Geoffroy´s cats, known for being the most friendly cats in the park. On rainy or hot afternoons, which were often, our cats slept as Rosa read me Ovid and the mosquitos attacked. We set off every day checking off our mental list of water, cat´s pills, bucket of meat, and key to the cage. Often playing a game to see who would have to carry the meat.
For Jo and her Ocelot, Lazy, the challenge was building a relationship and coping with her mood swings, as Lazy was her only companion during her days in the jungle. Issy battled the swamps for about 45 minuites just to reach her cat, who then could be having one of his difficult days. Although at first the challenge was huge, by the end Issy was talking about her cat Mariano as a proud parent, and showing photos of him to anyone who woyld look. Zandie had Carlos, a puma who had been at the park since he was a cub. Known for being extremely affecionate, he and Zandie bonded quite quickly, although the battle of waste-high swamp and ferocious mosquitoes prevailed until the last day.
In addition to our cats we saw our fare share of other animals as well: a giant snake in the comedor rafters, the scury of a rat in the cabin, or feeding the Pios, Chaunchos, or Tapiers in the morning. The biodiversity in the forest never failed to amaze me- giant humingbirds, Guinnea-pig like things (huchies), and the ocasional armadillo. On Saturdays we got to escape the jungle. We all piled into the back of a truck and went to Guaryos, about an hour away. There we excitedly checked our emails and stacked up on Oreos for the week. We relaxed by a lagoon -relishing in the mosquito-free environment. By the end of our time in the park I think we were all ready to have our clothes properly washed and have a hot shower.
The journey that lay ahead was exciting but we all knew we would miss something at the park, for me it would be my Gatitoes. The night before we left, all the volunteers got together in the camp´s cafe and had a trivia night. The night was filled with laughter and was a perfect way to say goodbye. The next morning we packed our rucksacks, leaving behind the clothes which had been taken by the jungle, and headed off onto the next part of our journey. ——–