Rescued owls and a dog in the wildlife sanctuary in EcuadorLast day of the week and I get Saturday off! Looking forward to a long sleep though the girls sharing my cabin leave in the morning so probs won’t get much of a lie in.

Today I’m down to do the quarantine round – animals new to the centre who are still being assessed. We also feed Chop and Chip the green macaws and the Red and blue big macaws so much chopping of fruit. In quarantine is a baby owl who has to be hand fed teeny tiny strips of raw meat which has to be put in to her gullet with a pair of tweezers. In the wild, her parents would be regurgitating stuff straight down her throat so thank the Lord we don’t have to replicate that!! She isn’t that keen on the whole process and does a great “Shan’t! Don’t want to!” turning her beak away with a decided “Can’t make me!”

She’s watched by two older owls of the same species who are absolutely horrified by this spoilt princess attitude as they would do anything for that beef! They look on, passing judgement on both the young owl and us, her slaves, with complete incomprehension. So funny!

Next – extra work – such fun! Today it’s‘Chlorine Friday’ which is pretty much what it says on the tin. Everything has to be scrubbed, chlorinated, scrubbed and rinsed thoroughly. Not so fun.

This afternoon we have a treat – an outing to a chocolate plantation and tasting the goods! It’s a big, well established estate owned by several generations of the same family (3 generations are there to show us round). It used to be a sugar plantation but cocoa and lemons have been added. First we try the cocoa beans straight from the pod – they’re in a white goo, utterly revolting and I quickly dispose of them behind a bush. To be fair, lots of the others loved the taste – but defo not for me. We were taken round the whole plantation and shown all the various equipment used to turn cocoa pods in to chocolate – but mainly, we just wanted to get to the samples and eat chocolate! I haven’t had any for 4 weeks ( not strictly true as a few samples did pass my lips in Quito) but it feels like MONTHS since I had any! Just bring it on, pleeeaaasse! As dusk was falling, the proceedings started with home made lemon cello – delish! Then hot chocolate! Then a strong version of a lemony liquor- very tasty, slipped down easily and warmed the cockles, then CHOCOLATE with caramel inside. I bought some for my daughters and promptly ate it all the next day. Ecuadorean chocolate is fab-u-lusssssss. Great start to the weekend…..

Puyo Carneval

The end of the volunteering

My last week at the sanctuary is nearly over – tomorrow I return to Quito and onward travels in Ecuador.

I’ve finally got my head around 3/5 different feeding rounds – one bit of path through Amazon rainforest looks pretty much like any other or I’ve got early onset Alzheimer’s! And I can tell all the different monkeys apart and even name some within the same family group!

It’s been hard work as not only does the work involve preparing fruit and meat – including whole baby chickens and fish gutting as well as fishing for live fish for the otter to catch- cleaning the feeding stations and poop off the floor, but then all the extra work. This week has been wet and windy, bringing a tree down across one of the ocelot’s enclosure, and taking out electric wires above the wolf’s area so it was fun for the team to sort that all out!

But as well as working hard we played hard too at the local Carnival in Puyo on Monday. It seems to be festival time all over South America – a bit like Pancake Day on steroids! It’s the same principle of excess before Lent and the big thing here is to have a massive crazy foam squirt fight! Any passer by is a target but luckily, we gringos avoided the worst of it. The carnival consisted of one or two big floats interspersed with local youth dressed in colourful costumes performing a variety of dance routines not too dissimilar to my Zumba classes at home ( but with less energy from the adolescent boys!) Then came representations from different countries within the region and things hotted up somewhat! My fave was from Chile; they did a sort of NZ Hakka with much verve and manly posturing. Stored in the memory banks for sure!

In addition, ATA needed a B-A-T-H but was reluctant to say the least! I eventually found a large rope to ‘guide’ him to the hose and shampoo and once there he behaved like a lamb. I’m sure he feels better for being clean!
The capuchin monkeys use onions to wash and de flea themselves. They squeeze the onion juices over their heads and each other then get in a big huddle and scrub all over even between their toes – definitely a memory to keep.

Then I got the sickness bug – description withheld- which took out a day and more. And now it’s my last afternoon with a goodbye dinner tonight and off in the morning to the next adventure but with good memories to hold and treasure.

Photos – carnival, me with squirrel monkey nibbling my ear, tortoise found where he shouldn’t be, capuchins onion bath, girls on bucket cleaning duties!

Monkeys and volunteers

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