Sacha Yacu - Week 1
Jun 11, 2011
|How can so much be done in one week?
There's not much to say about Puyo, a concrete town that has its own little character (and water park apparently, might try to go there on another weekend)
We didn't know what time we had to be at Sacha Yacu ( nor did the people apparently), so we guessed early. What we arrived to was not what we expected. Greeted by a muddy pond, with a few wooden buildings and an even muddier path leading up a muddy hill. A lady greated us saying in an American accent "Are you looking for Sacha Yacu?" We followed the muddy path to the sounds of animals and even more wooden huts that we will learn to call home for the next 4 weeks.
On our first day, as most people do, we tried our best to absorb everything in. People's names, locations of animal cages, rules and regs and just figuring this place out. It wasn't that difficult, but this was made immensly easy by the people. We felt like we arrived into a solid community that had been founded for years but it turned out that most people had only been there for a week. We were accompanied by 2 other new recruits which made the process that much easier.
After all the meetings and greetings were done (made difficult as everyone was doing the daily chores) we firstly were given a once over of all the animals and huts. I have to be honest and I thought we were going to a zoo-like situation, but as with most Central/South American countries, these enclosures were fully hand made, but good none the less.
Most of the animals here are ones that have been mistreated, apprehended from the animal trafficking trade or simply illegal ownership. They include mostly cappuchin monkeys, a variety of parrots, one Margay (small Ocelot like animal), one Coati, one Pava (turkey like animal) and one animal locally called a Songo Songo. The tasks are to simply clean and feed the animals on a daily basis, without getting bitten (using trap cages). Although, some of the animals don't need a trap cage as they were taken from tame situations (and hence cannot be released). These include the female Coati (scooter) and the Songo Songo (aptley named Songo) who both are the cutest/sweetest animals you will ever find. Scooter loves to have here back/neck scratched followed by a freshly caught grasshopper. We cannot go into the cage, but she knows the best finger-reaching areas and promptly provides her back. Songo's cage is big enough to enter, so when it comes to feeding time, he knows that he can jump around on peoples shoulder and doesn't mind being scratched as well, although for him its through the biggest poof-ball of fur on the tiniest animal ever. I could write about each and every animal as they all have a personality ranging from the cute to the aggressive and tame to wild, but it would take a book in itself. We will have to keep photos and memories.
There is so much to do here that does not involve animals. The center is not just to simply care for these animals, but to also involve the volunteers in more projects. This can be either simply help maintaining the enclosures (box and perches) or to help create the new centre that is being built down the road. For instance, on our first day, after all the meets, greets and show-arounds, we quickly got to work on making chocolate! The beans had been picked (more difficult than it sounds) dried and now we were going to roast and grind them. What an experience, made even more so by all the people who were there, what a bunch of characters (again, a book onto its own)
Second day we spent the afternoon making some pottery items, we weren't expecting that!
On wednesday we helped continue building the new centre with all the new enclosures. Currently, the old site has the enclosures close to the volunteer centre which makes release all too tricky. So the new site has them much further away and much larger. We helped dig out just one of the many needed for all the animals. This was promptly followed by an afternoon of helping to dig out the hired bulldozer and a few mud fights (Adrian the local lad and a few of the Canadians)
In the afternoon we found out the other half needed in making chocolate, which is picking and drying. The trees are quite short, the highest branch not being out of Ric's reach. The beans were hiding in the ripe yellow nuts which needed to be cut open with a machete then the gungy kidney look-alikes scooped out (which tasted absolutley fantastic when sucked on) and placed out to dry.
Thursday was dedicated to more pottery, but the main event was the leaving do. Up to this point the volunteers numbered about 17, a crammed hut with lots going on all day every day. This was made mostly of a group called the ISV (International Student Volunteers) and they were leaving on Friday. So there was a lot of good byes and going ons with the usual group cooking (only in the evenings and 17 + 4 is a lot of people to feed). We had fun games and very merry evening. An experience not forgotten and soon to be repeated as more ISV are coming in one weeks time.
Friday was spent doing things in a much calmer fashion, many hands make light work and more noise. So with ISV gone and six of us left behind, we took a leisurely approach and finished the tasks in our own time. Then we made some boxes, not the best tools, but we got the job done.
We get the weekends to ourselves so we decided to come back to Banos (here now) to sort out all the (really) dirty laundry and get some creature comforts. We also wanted to go paragliding but the weather wasnt good enough, better luck next week.