My month volunteering at a Bolivian animal sanctuary in December 2014 flew by. Before I had the chance to locate the final hole in my mosquito net I was saying “adiós amigos”.
In December 2014 I embarked on a 26 hour coach ride from La Paz to the middle of nowhere, also known as Santa Cruz. Then I got on another coach for 6 hours to reach a place called Ascensión de Guarayos. Then, as if 32 hours travelling wasn’t enough, I got on a minibus for 1 hour to get to the animal sanctuary.
I felt extremely nervous going to the animal sanctuary not knowing anyone there or what it would be like. But my love of animals and my desire to work with them made me go for it regardless. Thankfully the sanctuary and everyone in it was wonderful and I had a fantastic time that I´ll never forget.
I´ll admit the last week at the sanctuary was tough – a lot of the friends I had made left for new adventures, I hadn’t had a full day off in two weeks, and my workload had increased. But as my time drew to a close I realised how lucky I was. Listed below are my 5 favourite memories.
1. Christmas and New Years Eve
These are two big holidays that are usually spent with family. There’s a lot of pressure for these holidays to be good, and it’s always a worry they’ll be unsuccessful when you’re away from family. What made Christmas and New Years so good at the sanctuary was the volunteers. Excellent activities, food and parties were planned. There was playing games with local children on Christmas morning, an obstacle course, crazy golf, a quiz, secret Santa, backyard cricket, and fireworks. Everyone pitched in to make it go well, including feeding the animals, which doesn’t stop for holidays (sadly).
2. Working with Howler Monkeys
Howler monkeys are amazing! They are so cute, loving and so clever. I just wish they could pick up their poop!
3. Working with other animals and seeing wild animals in the wild!
I also enjoyed working with the the night monkeys (except the time Petey escaped), the birds, the Taipers, and the nasua. Equally, I loved seeing wild animals in the wild – including wild howler monkeys, wild capuchin monkeys (photo on the left), an armadillo, and whatever the thing in the photo on the right is!
4. Seeing jungle for the first time
Boarding the coach in urban jungle La Paz and waking up in tropical jungle Santa Cruz is one of my most treasured memories. Waking to light creeping through the bus window and seeing urbanisation replaced by jungle was both confusing and incredible at the same time.
5. Dusk in the back of a pickup truck
Road safety concerns aside sitting in the back of a pickup truck, in an area polluted with little light making stars shine more, is beautiful.
Thanks for reading!