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Turning 30 South American Style With the dreaded 30th birthday looming, I ran away to South America to celebrate the landmark birthday in style.

Inti Wara Yassi - watching pumas in Bolivia

BOLIVIA | Sunday, 20 April 2008 | Views [2827]

As oftten happens, when you are having a good time you have no time to record it. In this case, our good time involves waking up at seven, starting work at seven thirty, finishing at six thirty and having no days off. There is a party every night and I feed birds of prey in the afternoon while a baby puma takes its first stumbling steps in the grass outside my window.
We are almost a week into our month long stint at the Inti Wara Yassi animal sanctuary in Bolivia. After a short skip to Vallegrande to see the hospital where Che Guevara´s body was laid out after he was executed, we stopped over at the sanctuary en route to Cochabamba to see if we could volunteer and ended up moving our bags in that night. Since then we have done nothing but clean crap from cages and feed animals for a week solid and as there is something happening pretty much every night as well it has been pretty difficult to do anything but work, eat, drink and occasionally sleep.
Needless to say we are having a lovely time. Steve is working with monkeys who are too naughty to be allowed out near tourists. They are like the social workers of the monkey world and he is loving it, even if they do bite. I am with the tropical birds which means singing all day long as I feed them papaya and mandarins plucked fresh from the surrounding trees or in the case of the falcons, crushed chicken heads.
The park is set in a tropical forest and every one here is really nice - a strange but pleasant mix of dread locked hippies, management consultants, gap year students and assorted monkey lovers.
It is really funny to watch how the new volunteers begin to mimick their animals too, the monkey workers start scratching themselves and picking bits off each other´s clothes, the puma workers sit at the table all tall and proud and slightly intimidating.
The only, but very big downside is that I have no access to cable TV for a whole three weeks - the final three weeks of both the premiere league and European cup. What have I done?

Tags: animal refuge, animal sanctuary, bolivia, cochobamba, inti wara yassi, monkeys, parque machia, pumas, refugio, villa tunari

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