Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
My first day getting to do some actual work at the center: I woke up at 6 am to make sure I had more than enough time to get dressed and ready to make it for our 7 am breakfast. Clearly I overestimated how long it takes to toss on yoga pants and a t shirt because I ended up being 45 minutes early for the start of my day. I made myself comfortable on a hammock with my headphones to ease into the day. Breakfast was a tortilla with beans and a banana, which isn’t exactly what I’m used to but mostly everyone ate it without a complaint. The women who serve the food always did so with a smile that couldn’t help but make you feel thankful for whatever they handed you. They also had an entire cooler full of hot coffee which I desperately needed to get thru this type of early morning.
After breakfast each day at 8 am there was a team meeting where we looked over the chore chart to figure out what we were supposed to do. Being that I wasn’t yet on the medical team I took a roll on team 5 and was assigned to cleaning the hospital, ironically enough. This was also a day that a class of 15-16 year olds were coming to visit the center while our main team leader, Sarita, was going for lunch with the president of Costa Rica after she was invited to celebrate the new law against animal cruelty she helped fight so hard for. This clearly wasn’t a standard day and left many of the “long term” volunteers in charge of the teenage tour groups. This meant that I was left with few people to tell me where to go or what to do but I figured I’d eventually manage.
I made my way over to the hospital and did some standard cleaning of the counter tops, fridge, cages, and floor which takes longer than expected when the floors get caked with mud from the never ending rain during these months. Andres, the center’s veterinarian, was there and remembered me mentioning how I was a current vet student and he asked me to stay for the remainder of the morning. Being that my team had already finished the majority of their chores, I took him up on the offer and got to work on the medical care.
First I got to make up the special water we feed to the kinkajous and olingo by combining some water, honey, electrolytes, and Anxocare to manage their anxiety. Even better than prepping the water was getting to walk out and feed the two kinkajous, Neela and Daniel. They popped their little heads out of their hanging perch of the enclosure and lapped up as much of the fluid as they wanted. Neela was a lot more interested than Daniel, who curled back up into his perch after a few short sips but being that they are nocturnal animals thats not something to be all too uncommon.
After that, I made it back to the hospital just in time to meet Line Cotton, the 5 day old two-toed sloth that immediately stole my heart. He had been born on site and was taken once a day from his mom (which was easier said than done) to get weighed. He latched on to his little tiger stuffed animal in transit and was even put on the scale with it after which we would calculate out the additional weight and record our findings. Thankfully Line was doing well and I was thrilled to know I would get to see this little face at least once a day for the coming two weeks.
And when I thought my morning couldn’t get better, Marianna and I were put in charge of Cosi and Marie afternoon walk. Cosi, 6 months, and Marie, 9 months, are the center’s two baby three-toed sloths. Taking them for a walk is a simple, yet uncomfortably adorable, task. The two are taken from their pens and brought to the trees on the outskirts of the land where a bunch of trees grow. The pair are then placed on the trees and allowed to roam a bit to get a good dose of daily exercise. Needless to say I was in heaven for the 45 minutes of watching the little creatures slowly make their way up and down the trunks and munch on the massive leaves atop them. This was another daily chore I couldn’t help but look forward to.
By the time this was over, it was just about time to get back to the common area for lunch which was a plate of rice and beans. I quickly learned rice and beans were going to be a major staple of my diet and I found myself lucky that I liked both of those foods. After a quick break of reading and chatting with Marianna, we made our way back to the main floor of the common area for the afternoon meeting. We both had thankfully spoken to Andres and he opted to put us on the medical team full time but still made sure to get the afternoons news to make sure we were kept in the loop of the center’s ongoings.
The afternoons in the hospital were much easier and included gathering fresh leaves for our house sloths, feeding the goats, giving proper meds to different animals (which I clearly was still learning) and handling any new ongoings as they came along. Today we were lucky enough to get to deal with Oscar (the grouch) goat knocking the gate of the goat enclosure off its hinges. That required a little bit of rigging but thankfully some of the other med team members were able to range the goats before they made a break for it.
Chaos was handled and the afternoon went along pretty casually with a nice (but pretty cold) shower after the chores were all sorted. By the time dinner came around I was already dying for sleep but promised myself to make it until at least 9 to make sure I could get my sleep schedule back on track. I snuggled some of the baby kittens that the center was currently nursing, read a few chapters of my book, and took advantage of the common center’s wifi before crawling into bed to end the day. This would eventually become a routine for my down time but it was amazing when I occasionally snagged an open hammock and got a view of the trees and the sunset creeping between the leaves. It made each night a great way to wind down from the day of random chores and animal care that would make up the coming two weeks.