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April 14th 2012
Published: April 14th 2012
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Ok so I have been very lazy and not entered a blog post yet even though I have been here a month now. And yes, that means I have forgotten loads and such but oh well....

Ok so first of all I've gotta explain my mix-up with Para La Tierra (PLT). So I emailed Karina (the girl who set it up) the day before I left saying that I was leaving and that I'd see her soon... The she replied saying that I had said I was leaving on April 12th, not March 12th.... I don't know how the hell I managed that!! I was always emailing her in work when I wasn't paying attention so... Aw I'm silly!

But yeah I freaked out a bit because I didn't know if they'd have space for me but luckily enough everything worked out and they had space and didn't mind the mix-up.

So yeah the flights and all went fine. I met a lovely girl from Chile in Madrid airport called Gaby. She told me that I'm welcome in her house if I want to visit Chile. I emailed her recently and hope to keep in touch whether I go or not. But I would like to go. She was so nice! We spent the 7 or 8 hours chatting in her broken English and my pathetic Spanish... Mostly English to be fair. She gave me loads of advise aout South America.

Then I spent my first night in Palmas Del Sol hotel in Asuncion (Paraguay's capital) and had a bit of a wander around the city. It's very spread out but quite interesting. I didn't go to see anything in particular though. It was a bit intimidating because I hadn't a clue where I was really and I was getting sooo many stares. At one point I thought I was totally lost because I had stopped paying full attention to where I was going but I got back on th right track soon enough. I headed back to the hotel as soon as it started getting dark. It was so odd to see such divides in the city. You could see a deadly modern building but beside it would be this derelict, dirty building with piles of rubbish at the door... And this meant there were some woeful stenches in the place.

So then I got the bus the next day to Santa Rosa and Helen from PLT picked me up. She works for PLT along with Karina. She lives in the volunteer house with us but Karina lives in her own house/the PLT museum a few minutes away. The place is so beautiful!! There is a wonderful crystal clear freshwater lake here and we swim in that most days. It's a great place for me to learn to actually swim properly and not like 'a drowning dog' as Nick suggested the other day...

There are 3 main habitats here - The Cerrado (which is like a desert/savannah kind of area), The Transitional Forest (which is beautiful. Not too dissimilar to a regular forest at home. It's not very dense) and the Atlantic Forest where my project is based. This is jungle-like and amazing! I love it so much! It's quite dense in parts and has all sorts of critters in it. Lots of mosquitoes, which is very annoying!! And wasps! I got stung a few times in the first few days that I went out, which was very offputting, but now I'm fine with it. Myself and Jonny (an intern who started the capuchin monkey project, who will probably be employed at the end of his internship) discussed how ya have to earn your place in the jungle. Yeah you'll get bitten and scratched and stung and ya might trip over stuff and have to climb over and under stuff, but you will be rewarded greatly for your work. And it's better to feel like you earned your place. And it's nice to see nature trying to fight you off (even if it is frustrating when you're trying to do research work which will ultimately save the jungle)

For instance, our encounter with the bees.. So basically the aim of this project is to find out all sorts about the group of capuchin monkeys living in the Atlantic Forest and that requires them to be habituated. We can't do this unless we can follow them properly so a lot of trails have to be cut first. So most days we go out and machete new trails.....

So we're cutting away on the trails and we hear this super LOUD buzzing. Must be a huge hive or nest but it sounds kinda far away. So I go a bit closer to Jonny and say 'Holy shit that's loud' and next of all there's feckin LOADS on us!! We both had hat nets on (first day I've even used mine-sheer luck!!) and there were loads on the net on my face. So I'm trying not to freak out because I know they can't get me mostly. But Jonny has decided to take his net off and try to bat them away while we leg it through the trails which are hard enough to walk through, let alone run, especially with machetes. SO I drop the machete and run with my hands folded because it's the only part of my skin that's bare and Jonny is getting stung to bits!!

Eventually we're far enough away and the few ones that have persisted in staying with us til now have fecked off. We wait a little while hoping they've settled and go back to have the exact same thing happen again. And when we get back to 'safety' this time, one wasp or bee or whatever they were, keeps stinging Jonny. So at this point I'm sting free but he's gotten at least 10 stings. So we wait a bit longer this time and then Jonny goes back a bit closer with a bit more caution. There are only a few hanging around so he continues to machete.. Then turns around with such drama and goes 'OH SHIT THERE'S HUNDREDS OF THEM' and once again we go running through the forest as he gets stung several more times... Then a few minutes later he reaches boiling point and grabs both machetes and goes running back to where they were and continues to cut the trail with such enthusiasm and force!! I was laughing my ass off while trying not to get stung still...

Eventually we got through and I got off scot free with zero stings and Jonny ended up with about 15 he thinks...

Great fun!!

So most of my days start at roughly 6 to be out the door by half 6 and Jonny and I go to the forest and cut trails. He drives the moto loco to the forest (which is about a half hour walk away) most days. It's basically a motorbike with a trailer on the back. Soooo much fun! The odd time he'll go mental on it and drive so fast. It's wicked!! Just flying around corners with branches flying into your face. Love it!!

Then we might look for the monkeys and then machete, or just go straight to machete-ing. I've found the monkeys on my own a few times recently. Feels amazing when ya find them. Their reaction is usualy to leg it when they see ya but they're getting used to us now. Just the other day I stayed with them for 2 and a half hours. When they first saw me they freaked out and some legged it while others ran up to high trees to have a good look at me and wrn the others. Then I followed them and found them in another spot where they calmed down. One kept chucking the entire time as if to warn the others of my presence and one kept running up and down one tree checking me out. He'd sometimes cock his head to the side while looking at me. So cute!! I could hear a few others rustling about but most of them were hidden most of the time. A juvenille came up quite close to me to have an auld gawk and then he legged it again. Very fluffy little yoke! :-)

Then we'll be back by about 11.30 or so and the rest of the day tends to consist of reading, attempted research (I'm very lazy about it :-( ) playing in the lake, chatting with everyone, internet (but we're not allowed to download big things or go on youtube) and games in the evening often. I've been going for runs, stretching, juggling and hooping also but not enough. Finding it hard to motivate myself to do it even though I have ample time.

Actually that reminds me that Jonny wanted to do some yoga today. Dinner is gonna be ready soon enough so we should do it before then. . .

Ok I will write more tomorrow....or soon.

Things to come: Rich's stories, the slagging of being Irish, the games we've played, the food, the Argentinian hippy pooing in the lake (not really....), the snake, the cecilian, the storms, the sun, theeee....I duuno what else.... my birthday,..... and much more.

Stay tuned!


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