A tree fell to start the day. That’s the easiest way to die out here. You could die a lot of ways out here but apparently that’s the most common. You can die a lot ways anywhere, really. I doubt it’s any safer in the city given all the cars and people. I doubt you would ever die from a falling person, though. A lot of people fall to their death but I’ve never heard of anyone losing their life because of a falling person.
Actually, that’s not true. I met a woman in Colombia just a few weeks ago who told me a story about a lady who died because her husband landed on top of her. They were doing drugs and she jumped off a balcony and the husband followed. I suppose it’s a hell of a love story if you want to frame it that way.
I cant say I’ve ever known of someone dying from a falling car. I wonder which is less likely, falling person or falling car… A car is quite designed not to fall, but I think people are dumb enough to make anything fall if you give them the chance. I know I’d have a better chance pushing over a person than a car, that’s for sure. Unless it was a HotWheel, I could push one of those over with a toothpick or a gentle breeze.
Dying from a falling HotWheel seems the least likely of them all. It would also bring a certain degree of shame upon the family name, even more so than dying from a falling coconut or mango.
Anyways, I’m volunteering in the jungle for two months at an animal rehabilitation center and this was how the first day unfolded.
Day 1: The chickens begin their piercing song around 4:30 in the morning. It’s awfully early for someone who doesn’t have to go to work. Maybe the chicken would tell you that life is work for them, but I’d have a hard time believing it. They seem to spend a lot of time wandering and making a fuss about the nothing in front of them.
Anyways, when the chickens get up so do you. I crawled out of bed in a stew or excitement, curiosity, and confusion around six. I had the wildest and most intricate dreams, which often cause me to rise in a state of WhereTheHellAmIness. Usually I’m home but this time I happened to be in the jungle, which stretched my state of confusion beyond it’s normal length of time.
When I stepped out of the home made dormitory and walked about 25 steps up to the kitchen, one of the coordinators came up the other way in a mad dash. “A tree fell on the capuchin cage. A big one.” Others were scrambling like scattered ants separated by fresh drops of rain. Those who have been here for a fair length of time collected at the cage and began tending to the situation.
Some duties were switched around like the pieces of a puzzle with multiple solutions. Stefan (a German man who I arrived with) and I were supposed to be introduced to the Wooly Monkey run by Alan, but Kennedy (a woman who happens to live just outside Austin) ended up guiding us through the work day. I think it worked out better that way. Kennedy was saying how she wanted to do an introduction and it’s always nice when someone is excited to do something.
Our first task was to wander into the rainforest and cut down leaves for the monkeys with our machetes. When you don’t know what kind of leaves Wooly Monkeys eat, this can become a laborious first job. First you have to decipher if it’s the right kind of leaf. Next, you must find a clear route to swing your machete through. Then, you collect the branch and throw it over your shoulder like a shower towel. Rinse and repeat.
Bugs will crawl across your skin, thorns and leaves will cut and stab you, water will fly in your eyes, and you’ll feel all kinds of sticky and icky substances scattered throughout; but you’re there to do a job, so it does no good to think about any of that.
Once I started to recognize the patterns amongst the leaves things began to get easier. Pattern recognition is a hell of a skill to have in this world. If you can recognize a pattern and apply the knowledge, you’re going to be alright. They won’t state it so directly in school, and I’m not sure why.
If someone would have simply explained the value of pattern recognition I would have been a lot more invested in math class. It always bothered me when adults told us to do what we were told but never explained why. It still bothers me. The children deserve a little more respect.
When we got back to the bodega with our leaves we learned that one of the capuchin monkeys had escaped and it was best to avoid the area until further notice. You could hear the little bugger and his monkey scream, like a wild child at the pool. Onward we went with the day.
Our next task was to feed the kinkajous, nocturnal animals that kind of look like a large ferret, maybe? I don’t know, it’s hard to get a look. We cut up a bunch of fruit and veggies and made our way to their cage, which is where things got interesting.
As we were inside the cage picking up poo and old leaves, Kennedy suddenly yells “Jason, close the door!” I turned around to see three wild howler monkeys descending upon the bowl of fruit meant for Kevin, the kinkajou. Kennedy, Stefan, and I were now trapped in the cage as these three howlers feasted on the fruit we prepared just a couple feet outside. “Does anyone have their phone?” Asked Kennedy. I did not.
Stefan did. He send a message to the group that we were trapped in the cage. It didn’t send. I looked at the phone and then… aha! Message sent. Someone was on the way to chase them off. Sven arrived a minute later and got the monkeys to move out of the way, though they wouldn’t exactly leave. We got out of the cage and went on with our work. “I promise every day isn’t like this,” they told us.
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