24-Volunteer

Update 24: Mistakes.

I start this story Tuesday Night (9-11-2004) at 2:45am. Yesterday I extended my visa in Cochabamba and bought finally a new fridge for our hostel. 4 Hours in a bus to get there and 4 hours to come back, I had sleep enough. I´m awake and hungry and for this reason I´ve on my left hand side a pot with porridge, just made ;-)
Before, I thought that it will be nice to write a story about all the gossip that happens in and around the park. but I think that there happened to much other and more important things to write now a story with gossip…
For this reason I decided that this story will be about mistakes. However before I started writing I could never expect that I would have to end the story with (personal) e-mails about big mistakes…
I don´t want to blame anyone in this stories, I just want to give a different view on the human aspect of Volunteer work.

The first mistake I made, when I was just back in the park. It starts with an argument with the volunteer who took over when I went back to Holland. It was because of her that the unknown volunteer wanted to tell me how happy he was that I was back in the park.
She can have a hard and confronting way of telling and asking. Maybe it is part of the Israeli culture, but she has it strong and irritates quite a lot of people with it. This guy was even from Israel as well… Especially with volunteers you have to be more careful. She doesn´t really do it on purpose. She is a good person, but it is just a bad character habit, most of the time she even doesn´t even know what she´s doing wrong.
I wanted to explain her what she is doing wrong and got the opportunity to give her an exact example of her behaviour.
Apparently that wasn´t such a good idea. She felt really angry with me and she didn´t got the message. It took me a few days to let her calm down, but now she seems to be ok again.

The next mistake is actually one that I made already a few months ago, but the consequences I found out only 3 weeks ago. The story is a little to long and difficult to explain totally, but I will try:
Two months ago we had a young and healthy weasel in the park. It took one volunteer to walk with and take care of this weasel. Most volunteers, including me, didn’t really understand why we had to walk with this weasel on a leash and not just let it free? In its file was written that he was planned to be released already two months ago, but only when he could walk without his leash and would come back if you call him??? Since I just took over the volunteer co-ordination, volunteers often asked me: “Why?” I send them to Pascual or Nena, but they never got a straight answer.
Two volunteers were really committed to help this weasel; They first tried to find out the survival skills of the weasel.
After that the second volunteer asked me if she could let the weasel go..?
Before the weasel had already escaped a couple of times, but we could always catch her again.
She seems to be good in finding and catching her own food and with the few volunteers and less time we have now to take care of the animals, maybe it will be better for her to be free? We just let her escape again, but don’t catch her anymore. Only than we have the risk that she will come back again? We can better let her go on a save place far away from the park.
Ok, I made the decision. I think that it is better to try to give the weasel a change to survive in wild, than to stay most of its live in a small cage. I told the volunteer that she had my permission to release the weasel. This was a big mistake.

Two months later:
I just found out that this weasel was a protected animal and that there are no other weasels of this species in the area. The area is also less secure than we thought, sins most of the ground belongs to farmers. With my action I brought not only the weasel, but also the park in jeopardy. Apparently the weasel was on a list of protected animals that is held by an big animal organisation in Bolivia. This organisation Blamed the park for loosing the weasel…
However I didn’t want to leave the park, I understand that I made a big mistake and blamed the trust that the park had given to me. I offered to leave if they wanted me to leave, but I would first need to train someone to replace me, to learn all the things I had learn doing my work.
I wrote an official note for the Bolivian Animal organisation to explain that I had made the mistake to release the weasel.
I also explained in a meeting about my mistake, so none of the volunteers would do the same thing in the future. We agreed that I would stay until someone could take it over from me. But no-one showed up.
Again a month later I heard from a volunteer, who had been in the park before and knew the weasel, that he had seen the weasel walking, not far from one of the puma trails Was it a good decision after all?
It taught me at least again 2 lessons:

1-    Be careful with taking impulsive decisions
2-    Take your responsibility for a wrong decision immediately, or it will follow you. If there is nothing you can do about it anymore, then learn at least your lesson.

I did. Live goes on, for the animals, but for us as well. You have the daily satisfaction from your special job of working with animals, but sometimes as well the annoyance of working with the people… Working with the people is often more difficult than the work with the animals, but also more of a challenge. Saying this I don´t even talk about the volunteers who really don´t want to work. Volunteers who only come to play with animals, or who only want to take pictures of them together with themselves. I have another story about that later…
No, I mean volunteers who act childish (I still get surprised of how much volunteers behave childish?). Volunteers who don’t pay attention on each other, fight about the small things and only care about the things that they want to do, or really have to do.
An other volunteer mentioned it earlier, ask something in a group and most people will wait until someone else will do it. If you want help, most of the time you need to ask it personally. Luckily there are also a lot of good volunteers with their own initiatives, but taking initiatives is still for to much people difficult. This is especially if it comes to cleaning and clear. Not only the hostels, but unfortunately also sometimes with the cleaning of the cages.
It is sad, but insurmountable that, next to the good volunteers you will always get some irresponsible ones. They have not much common sense, but you have to live with them, or we get too less volunteers…
The following story talks about a volunteer like that and how much damage he made by being stupid:
This story is about a volunteer who walked with Simba (a puma of 3 years old and 45kg). He walked already for more than a week with Simba, so should have been comfortable with his trails, when he started on day 9 with another volunteer. Apparently he wasn´t so comfortable with the trails, because he tried for several times to pull Simba in the wrong direction. Simba got irritated from this and started to growl. The volunteer pulled more and Simba jumped on him. Sounds more scary than it is, if you know Simba. You know that if you talk calm and move slow, he lets go of you, without even scratching through your skin.
The leading volunteer finally noticed that he was walking wrong while the other volunteer got afraid. He decided to go back to ask for help. The “old” volunteer would stay behind. Good idea. However it took to long to wait, for the volunteer who stayed behind, so he decided to walk on his own. Wrong decision. He tried to walk again in the wrong direction (I heard later that he spend the first few days more with his eyes behind the camera than on the trail, while you are not even suppose to use your camera in the first week…) and Simba jumped. The guy thought that Simba attacked him. He hid Simba with his fist, let the leash go and run away. Simba, who was as afraid as him run the other way with a rope of 10m behind him…

We went all looking for him for 6 days, except from the “Simba” volunteer who didn´t want to look anymore, after 2 days he found it good enough…
We couldn´t find Simba and were afraid that he would get tangled with his leash and die from thirst and hunger Luckily the villagers around were looking for him as well, in the hope to get the reward of 50us$.
On Friday 17-9 the day that I was suppose to leave to Holland, there came two men to the Volunteers-case who had found Simba I went with them, together with Pascual (the Vet) and we walked a stressed, a little skinny, but happy Simba, back to his own cage.
The end of a happy story, which will unfortunately get a little unhappy tail. This will be explained in the following e-mails.

My story will from now on turn into a compose of e-mails that I´ve been sending the last few months. Mails to update volunteers who were involved with this stories:

For People who don´t know the park, a short explanation of the mean characters of this story:

Juan Carlos -         founder and president of the organisation.
Nena -             “Old” volunteer and manager of the park.
Pascual -     Vet of the park, who gets more and more responsibilities, because Nena is not feeling well.
Any and Rob     are not the real names of 2 volunteers who where before in the park and are going to stay for a long time.
Gato -            old and mostly tranquil (calm) puma),
Roy -            2 years, a big healthy and sometimes a little spicy puma),
Simba -    a 3 years old puma, smaller than Roy, very affectionate and soon stressed,
Leonsio and Waira -    different pumas with different habits. Leonsio is a young male puma who arrived almost half a year ago. Waira is a young FEMALE who just arrived a few months ago and is apparently a little attractive to the men…
Sama –    is the only jaguar in the park, who needs a very long time to get used to someone new and is most of the time to aggressive to get close to. Some volunteers made him a runner system, on which he can walk with his leash. This gives him about 100m to walk and by changing him to 3 different runners, he can walk in 3 different directions, without getting into your range. The only dangerous part in working with him is the part that you have to put the carbine of his leash on his collar (and off in the evening) You can do this when he is eating eggs. He needs confidence in you and you need confidence in him…


 Hey, All old volunteers of I.W.Y., Who are still travelling or already at home.

It seems that the news of Gato and other Puma escapes goes very fast around the world. According to the e-mails I get from people I didn´t even wrote about it (yet). For everyone who doesn´t know the real story, I put it all behind until the things that happened 2 days ago...  Sorry that it is maybe a bit personal written, it felt personal to me.
Please, if you replay to this story, do you want to erase the story first, my mailbox is almost full:

Than I have a long and bad story for you.

I think you can better sit down before you start reading....
It all starts on Saturday (13-11) evening when we find out that Gato and his volunteer are missing. We look for them until 22:30h and decide then that there are no more trails left to look for them. I also don´t want to send people off trail into the dark. We decide to wait until it is light.
We get some sleep and leave the casa (the volunteer house) the next morning at 5:30am. We look again for Gato and his volunteer on all of his trails. We also look on the trails of Simba, Rico, the tourists, the trails leading to the villages and even off trail. We find nothing

Around 9:30am we suddenly get a phone-call (mobile) that the volunteer of Gato is back only without Gato. Apparently he untied Gato this morning, from his leash. He did this because he was afraid to tie Gato to a tree and not find him back anymore. Doing this Gato could die from hunger or thirst... But he thinks now that he knows where about Gato is.
As soon as I´m back at the casa, Pascual left already with another Bolivian, the volunteer of Gato and Rob and Any. Nena asks me to wait in the casa for if they need any help.
It seems that Gato is in a river area quite far away from the park? Before they look further for Gato, Pascual sends first a radio message that Gato has escaped and that he is a very tranquil puma. Who finds him gets a reward of 50 dollar.
They look most of the day, but find not much more than a footprint that leads in the direction to Gato´s trails...

Monday 15-11, we get again up early. But because it was raining all night from 0:00h until just after 5am, I ask everyone who is going to look, to wait until 6:45h and if it stays dry, we can go. The last time that it rained that much (Thursday or Friday) the rain caused a few big landslides, even on Roy´s short trail. Because of that I didn´t want to have volunteers, who are not really used to walk, walking in the rain on unstable trails.
It stayed dry, so we went looking again. We walked all cat-rails in the park and again some of the local trails, but we couldn´t find a sign of Gato.

In the afternoon, the ocelots, Sonko, Quirqui, Leonsio and Tequila went out.
Around 17:30pm 2 Bolivian guys came to the park and told us that they had a puma in their house?? It turned out that they had a puma sleeping under some kind of an open shelter. I went as soon as possible to the hostel of Copacabana to get Rob and Any who just wanted to take a shower. I explained them the situation and went back to the casa.
Here I found out that Nena already left with Gatos volunteer, the 2 Bolivian Guys and aperantly also 2 volunteers, to some village??? But with no meat, no flashlight, nada? The woman of Copacabana goes up to tell Rob and Any.
20 Minutes later a taxi stops by to ask for 2 flashlights to bring to San Lorenso. I go again to Rob and Any and send them to San Lorenso.
About 15 minutes later Nena stops with a taxi and asks me to send all volunteers as soon as possible to San Lorenso. Gato bit a child badly in his face.......... and if they find Gato before us, they will shoot him....!
I ask all volunteers who have a flashlight to make groups of 2 to 4 people. Write your name on a piece of paper, when you go looking and go directly to San Lorenso. I will try to get some more flashlights out of hostel Las Vegas and buy a few more.
By the time that I´m back, the park already got a phone-call that they got Gato and didn´t need more volunteers to come. I decided to wait until they are back.
More than half an hour later I hear that Nena is back in Hostel Copacabana with the child and his parents. The kids face is half open, the cheek and mouth are half bitten away and he has some bad scratches on his body. The child is in chock and Nena is talking with the parents. Juan Carlos wants us to buy a bear for the child...
Finally after more than an hour the volunteers who went already looking for Gato, came back. Not much later Gato came back as well, transported in the trunk of a taxi.
Nena wants to talk with Gatos volunteer, Rob, Any and me. She explains how bad the situation with the child is and how bad this can be for the park. She also wants that Gatos volunteer takes responsibility and asks me why I didn´t explained better to the volunteers how to handle in situations like this?

Next day, the 16th.
Volunteers are talking about everything that happened and wonder why the park is blaming Gatos volunteer for everything, while the park knows that Gato, in the past, already earlier wounded children? This is written in his file.
“Why are we still walking this cat?” Is one of the questions the volunteers ask. “It is not fear to hold Gatos Volunteer responsible for everything that happened, while the radio message said nothing about the danger for children and while there were even children in the park on that day.” Is something else the volunteers are wondering about.
A lot of volunteers also blame the park that the child seems to be less important than the park?

Seven volunteers decide to leave immediately. In this group the only 2 volunteers of the Mirador and the girl from Sama. She tells me that she doesn´t want to take any responsibility for when Sama escapes and kills someone... I can understand that.
By the way, I think that Samas collar is to lose. I can put 2 hands between his collar and his neck? If I´m right, we have to put him to sleep and that is difficult…
 
The next 2 days went calm, only the mirador (a place in the jungle where they can keep an eye on monkeys which are more difficult to handle, or monkeys who can be released again) became a mess. Pasqual sended up one Bolivian guy (Rudi) who had been working there, or with monkeys before? I wanted to send a girl and a guy with him, but Pasqual said that that was to dangerous? So the Bolivian guy stayed there most of the day alone, not really knowing what to do.
Yesterday they had to wake up Rudi at 8am, while he had to start working already at 7:30. I tried again to send a girl up who had been working in the mirador before and another guy to help her. She would go with Pascual, to be sure that Rudi and Pascual know the names of all of the monkeys that are now there. Pasqual had no time, Rudi didn´t know what to do and wanted even to bring his child, what a mess.
After another hour more, I was already walking Roy, both of the volunteers had enough of it, they wanted to help, but not like this.
When I came back from Roy I heard that Any and An that they met Waira when the walked the tourist trail up to her cage!? Apparently the rain had washed a lot of sand away from the frond of the cage. Because of this Waira was capable of digging a hole under need the door!
Unfortunately Waira has to stay now in her old small cage (1.5, by 1.5, by one metre!) until there is more money and time to really finish her new cage.
When I went in the afternoon to Sama, Rudi was alone at the mirador, not really save when something would happen to him… At 16:00h I went back, because Sama was totally tangled on the roof of his cage and I needed another carbine to untangle him. Rudi was still at the mirador and when I came back too, but when I finished and sama was safe in his cage at 17:40h there was nobody at the mirador (you are suppose to work there until 18:00h) and some of the cages where open?
In the evening we had 2 new volunteers, one for the mirador. I asked him to talk with the girl.

To go further on with the problems in the park; the new guy from the mirador talked last night with the “experienced” girl who left today. This way we hope to keep at least some of the old information, some names and descriptions from the Mirador in the park.
They still had some misunderstandings and problems today, but hopefully it will go well tomorrow...
This afternoon I just wanted to go to Sama when we had an other problem. Gato showed up in the monkey-park!? The Bolivian volunteer who took care of Gato, when Gato was on a runner outside his cage, put a broken carbine on his collar. Gato escaped again! Luckily he was able to follow Gato and when I came he had just tied Gato to the rope we use to go down one of the landslides to the beach.
I took Gato over, who was really stressed and walked him back to his cage. Now he has to stay inside on his leash, because he tries to dig under his door. Poor guy, he can´t help it as well…

The latest news is that we have today (19-11) 2 new volunteers, but 5 volunteers who leave on schedule and 4 who leave because of the mentality of the park. I convinced them to stay for tomorrow as well, so they can teach new people for their job.
As the situation is now, we will have on Sunday 20 volunteers...
Ok, I think that we had enough problems lately, I think that it is time to get some luck now. By the way, we got a battery drill from England the day before yesterday. It came with 2 volunteers who already left today... Tomorrow, the park is running and the day after, we will sort out tomorrow. Wish us luck and send some volunteers, so I can finally start building cages (good cages).

Hey All,

First some bad news, we have at this moment, at least until Tuesday, no internet....
Than finally some good news, at least for the park than... There are now every day more and more volunteers coming in and at this moment we have already 44 volunteers 
The cats are almost all sorted out, except for Sama. But I don`t want to take the responsibility to put an untrained volunteer with Sama, before I changed his collar. I brought it to the shoemaker and it should be finished today?
The same for Waira´s new, temporary cage, which is now totally set in concrete. Suddenly Nena had some money and even a little more to make a double door in the cage!

Leonsio
He also deserves to move from that small, very small cage to a nice big one. Two  volunteers Anat and Cindy donated 100 and 250us$ for this purpose I think that the last one for sure deserves to see Leonsio in his cage before she leaves. The other money came from a collection that we held in the past for Leonsio. A collection to get enough money to operate his broken leg. We still don´t know what is going to happen with, that? Pascual says that it is not necessary anymore? It seems that he is right about that. The cage will be about 6 x 4m and 2m high. It can be totally finished within 2 weeks...

We decided that the Volvo garage would build the cage, so I could spend more time with the cats. However the explanations of how to build the cage took me almost more time then when I would have build it myself. Luckily a former volunteer, Id. came back just after, to help in construction as well. This is great, because alone you really can´t do much...

I also found some ways to let Waira and Leonsio walking more and seeing as less cats as possible. Even Sonko can walk more, when he can´t go to the beach (the beach is a flat area next to the river where Sonko likes to play).
I should be happy now, but I don´t really know if I am? If I wasn´t here for the animals I would have been gone by now. There are only 2 things that keep me here:
There are a few small problems I want to solve and I made a promise to someone...

Sunday it would have looked a lot different than it looks now. I would have write you that I do respect the Bolivians a lot for all they did and are doing for the park, especially the Bolivians who are working totally unselfish in the park of Nena and Juan Carlos. But I would have also write you that someone with his own company (this is how I see Nena and Juan Carlos in relation to the park) has the same "problems". Having your own company means always that you never really have a day off. They choose to commit their live to do their own “job”, for what ever reason they have...
We, they volunteers, are in the park to help the animals. It is the "company" of Nena and Juan Carlos, so we are helping them as well. I think that they have to give us the same respect as we give them and that helping the animals, who had/have no choose is more important than anything else...
On Sunday evening I had, at least I thought, a pretty good talk with Nena. She wanted to talk to me about my opinion of the organisation. She knows that I have different opinions and more or less accepts that. She asked me to talk less about them with other volunteers and as much as I want to be honest to other volunteers. I promised to try to express my opinions less than I do normally. Maybe so we get less arguments in the group, what´s better for they groups atmosphere... She tells me than that she is happy that those 7 and later more, volunteers left. The volunteers who left thought that it was irresponsible to walk with Gato after he already hurt 2 children and now a 3th. She said that they didn´t understand the meaning of the park and that they are rotten apples. She only expected different from K. and didn´t want to believe that he had different  reasons to leave...
I suggested that she should talk more with the volunteers, ask them how their day was for example. To keep us more informed about the big problems that the park has, so the volunteers are less complaining about the small problems, the small conflicts between them self. I also asked her to explain to everyone how big their responsibilities are in the park. She agreed with me as well.

Than we have a meeting on Monday evening and I hear her explaining more about the big problems of the park and then...... A few small things and the meeting is over???????
What!? Nothing about the accident with Gato!?
Nothing about our responsibility in the park? WHY???? Not even telling us that the operation of the child went better than expected! WHY?
She wants to keep this all a secret? And live goes on... Gato is even already walking again!
This is really low of her and as far as I respect her for what she did in the past, running a park on secrets and lies doesn´t deserve much respect. I hope at least that she doesn´t do it on purpose and that she is just thinking a little short in her way of giving the best to the animals. But my respect for her is very low now.
If she did it, because she doesn´t want anyone to leave the park for this situation? Because this volunteers disagree with the parks response on it. Why then, was she saying the day before that those good people who left, are rotten apples and that she is happy that they left the park?????
I still want to stay, but I don´t know if I want to be part of this?

Sorry for they tone of this e-mail it is nothing personal ;-) and yes, I do expect a reaction from you on this e-mail. Maybe you see something in this behaviour that I overlook, that can change my mind? At this moment I´m to angry with Nena to discuss it with her, and I doubt if it will work...

One week later and an other meeting later. My meeting, my last meeting as cat supervisor.
I wanted to have a sort meeting with all cat-volunteers to explain them about the new rules and new cat-files that I wrote and updated. I thought that I had written a pretty nice speech, in which I explained a little about a cat-escape and the things that went wrong. I want to prevent this in the future and for that reason I updated the files. I also wanted to explain the volunteers about their responsibility while they´re working with the cats.
But Nena told me that I wasn´t allowed to say anything about that? “The volunteers deserve to know at least that?” “No.” “Why?” “Just NO.” “Ok, you explain about this than.” “I will explain.” And off course she didn´t say anything.
She wanted the meeting in her house (her English in not that good and her house is more quite), so she could be sure to understand everything that I would say. So she would be sure that I wouldn´t say anything wrong......
Ok, if you want to play it like that, than I don´t play with you anymore. I don´t want to lie to all volunteers, so at the end of the meeting I gave my responsibilities to Rob, who took earlier al the job-co-ordinator.
How much accidents happened in the past with the cats? Accidents we don´t know about, because Nena wants to keep them  secret????? That is not going to happen with this accident it will be in the file, al is it the last thing I do.

No my respect for Nena is now very low. I can work with her, I had a boss like that in my company and I (and he) survived 5 years, but I don´t want to be part of a big lie. Rob has now all responsibilities and with this amount of volunteers he has not much to worry about yet. If Tomer and I could do it alone, he should be able to do the same.
I can´t do much with Nena anymore. The good thing for now, is that Nena doesn´t want to get any arguments with Rob and Any (yet), so she agrees easier with them.
I don´t know, we are suppose to help the Bolivians, but if volunteers ask them to help and explain, they have never time. Now I tell Rob what is wrong:
The people in the mirador, both quarantines (monkeys and birds) and even the monkey-park, don´t really know what they´re doing and get almost no help from the Bolivians to learn how they are suppose to do their job.
Rob tells Nena about these problems and slowly things change a little. I hope that soon he will not need my help anymore and sees these things himself. But maybe it will be better for him to never see/know too much…
The park is also saying that they never have money, but when it is really needed, they suddenly get money out of the pockets? How to get a good cage for a puma?
Let the puma almost escape and there is suddenly money for a better cage. Nena feels that she is very good and that she is helping with the cage, which suddenly needs to be finished soon.
Soon, you could have thought about that 4 months ago! But ok, it works now...

You read it, I can still work with Nena and get things done that I want, a little different then how it has to go, but if she plays games, I can do that as well. I will survive, I think....


Part 3

Today I didn´t have my day;
It all started slow in the morning when I went again to the shoemaker to ask if Sama´s collar was finished. He wasn´t there…
Then I tried to give every cat-volunteer, who wanted, a new medical-kit. Next to the new guidelines and safety-rules for working with the cats. This as one of the results of the last escape. I found out that a lot of cat-people started later and that some of them were not happy to pay a 50bs deposit on the kit, so they didn´t took it. After this I went to Sama, who was really tranquil (maybe to much?).
In the afternoon he didn´t really wanted to go earlier in his cage in the (I can´t blame him), so I was late to do the concrete with Id. on Leonsio´s cage.
When I came back in the casa I heard that Simba had attacked his volunteers???? Apparently he was already in a strange mood, than he saw Waira (at what age get pumas on heat?). He wanted to go to her. His volunteers stopped him, but then handled him wrong (you can´t even blame them for becoming afraid of a puma who “attacks”), so he became more aggressive to them. The volunteer who just started hadn´t read the file yet and that is the only thing I can blame him for…….
Since Id. was walking with Waira and knows better how to handle cats, he helped already before I came up. Simba was already calm and on his way back to his cage when I met them.
Now Waira and Simba are in problems; The 2 volunteers of Simba don´t want to walk with him anymore and Nena (and later I heard Pascual as well) doesn´t want Waira to stay in her new cage anymore??????????????? They want to keep Waira in her small cage of 1 by 1 by 1.5m! and on the 30m runner in front of the cage, for the rest of the time that she is in this park. That means; Until she has a new cage in the new land, which they have to start building off course…….
For this I get so pissed off on them again. They make a decisions like that before Id. and I came back, without knowing anything of what really happened and without even knowing much about cats. Like I said in my last meeting as cat  supervisor: “I´m not an expert in animals and cat- behaviour. I never studied anything about that and know not much more than from my own experiments, but that is still more than Nena knows about the cats… Unfortunately it seems that I know about this even more than our Vet Pascual….
Why doesn´t she talk to Rob or me to find a solution for Waira, before she makes this stupid decision. Waira hates the small cage and it took me more than an hour to get her in today. Then she was so stressed that she didn´t eat, what she always does…
Waira could have easily stayed in her new cage and if necessary (with volunteers who can really handle cats) we could have just walked Waira and Simba at different times of the day. Use different trails (including a totally separated real small one, but still a trail) or different days, until the new cage for Waira would be finished.
But no, They make a decision about something they don´t know enough about. Only because they´re to proud to admit. Or maybe this time they want to show the new volunteer that they really cares about the volunteers?
Nena says that Waira will only have to stay in this cage for a short time, she says that she has some emergency money and will use that to make her a cage in the new-land. So again, after an accident there is suddenly money and is it possible to move a puma on a very short time to the new land. How much more accident before more of the cats will leave to the New Land???
I really hope that Waira goes soon, because I think now that she was better off during her live with the street artist than spending most of her time in a cage of 1 by 1 by 1.5m…
It is good that she goes to the New Land, because she will have a lot of space to walk, but I hope that she doesn´t get stocked in her new cage there. They usually don´t have a lot of volunteers there, because they don’t want to make it to big. Someone who is there only for a short time and who want to work with her, will probably get afraid of her. She is a little stressed cat (soon scared of things that happen around her) with a temper.
Unfortunately I´m also not allowed to send information “about how to handle cats”, to the New Land. Why? Nena doesn´t want to insult the person who is working there… Why? Why not use the information and experiences that we have collected the last 7 years of working with pumas in this park?
The only thing (sorry animal ;-) that keeps me right now in the park is Sama, the jaguar. Since I´m now the only one who can work with him. I don´t want to let him in the cage for the next month and a halve… Until an old volunteer comes back to take him out.

I would like to help the park, I don´t mind to work hard, but if I can´t do anything useful, than it is a waist of time to stay.

How I feel personally? I still don´t need much sleep, but if I sleep I sleep very well, without stress ;-) We play some cards after work, drink something and have still fun AFTER work. For tomorrow we have a big BBQ again. Celebrating that Rico came back after 10 days walking in freedom, raise more money for Leonsio´s cage and maybe a nice party for some new gossip ;-)
My only problem in this park is Nena, she makes it difficult for herself and the volunteers. If she stays so stubborn in not listening to volunteers, than I´m afraid for the future of some other pumas with temper in the park. If I´m not allowed to help now, than I prefer to go away before we have much more problems. It seems that Nena only wants, or even expects, me to solve the problems after, instead of before. I asked Rob to talk with her tonight and I hope that he is not afraid to put a little pressure on her? Ok, now it is time for a nice Jamaican Café.


P.s. It is now 2 days later, after the BBQ and Rob has been talking with Nena. I think that he didn´t put enough pressure on her (yet). Nena only told him that she will ask the Volvo-construction shop to make a cage for Waira. It will be not so big, because they have not much money, but as soon as they have some more money they will extend her cage. O, really? And what about until that time? Staying in her small cage and not be able to walk more than on her runner???
Two volunteers with a van offered to bring Waira with the small cage and her leading volunteer to the New Land. But Nena wants to wait until her bigger cage is ready… Again, why ???!

Sama
I will give you a short history about Sama; from the moment that the volunteer for Sama left:

After Gato´s escape and the accident with the little boy ( the operation went pretty good, but he still has a very big scar across the right side of his face), Sama´s last volunteer L. left. She was saying that Nena never asked her how Sama was. But, more important, that if Nena holds Gato´s volunteer responsible for the accident, she doesn´t want to be responsible for all consequences when Sama escapes...
Before I´ve been visiting Sama, so I could be a backup, especially now V. (a long term Bolivian volunteer who works in the monkey-park and is the backup for Sama) is not here. So I started to work with Sama.  He knew me and was pretty confident with me but still not that much as with L., Cl. or Ch.
My first 3 days, he found 3 ways to tangle himself (ones with the rope of his toy and the other times because the high water had change the landscape a little) and in 2 cases I had to get into his range. I tried to spend as much time as possible with him, but I had to train around that time also volunteers for Roy, Simba (more the trails) and Waira.
I managed and slowly Sama got more used to me. I trained him to go first thing out of his cage, to go up to his waterfall. This way I could do all the jobs, cleaning, new leaves in his cage, etc. straight away and he will have more time to do what he wants after. It worked almost every time.
I finished the training’s and could slowly spend more time with Sama and get some construction work done.

Then I brought for the first time a visitor to Sama, a blond girl (Sama seems to prefer that). She couldn´t come from the beach, because of the water level. In the morning I had to drop in to help with Simba so I had to bring her with me in the afternoon. Unfortunately Sama was to upset that I couldn´t let him out...

A few days later on I tried this with another volunteer, but with the same result. I wanted to train someone new, but in order to do that I had to change his collar first. I could now easily put 2 hands in-between his collar and his neck and that is really too much. I had ordered at the shoemaker to fix a new one but was still waiting. It didn´t took 3 days as planned and promised, no even now I still don´t have a new collar.
During the time I was waiting I didn´t want to have any visitors, so he could really calm down with me.
 
Then the volunteers walking with Simba, got jumped by Simba after he saw Waira. The treated him wrong, so got a lot of scratches.

T. wrote me that Samas old collar was new enough to be good with only a new hole. Ok than I will try to fix the old one. Tranquillise Sama will be difficult with only me who knows Sama, so I wanted to try with the eggs. I choose a calm day to change his collar after him being out. No, this didn´t work. Maybe in the morning before he gets out, when he is really calm? I tried again and managed to take it of with only 6 eggs! I left him in the cage for that day and would put the fixed collar the next day on again.
I took Id. with me (on the beach this time) as a backup, because I thought that it will be more difficult to put the collar back on. I think Sama noticed that Id. was Somewhere, so I couldn´t do much.
I came back to the end of the day, alone and managed to put his collar and one ribtie back on with only 8 eggs But then the last riptide took me 5 more eggs and it still didn´t work Ok, I would try it again next day.
Before I would let him out, I put his carbine on and almost managed to put the second riptide on. But he was less interested in his eggs today. I tried with a lot of egg, but it still didn´t work. He would only break them, not eat them. I let him out anyway. In the afternoon I tried again, but than he got a bit pissed and it took me 14 eggs (mostly he only brake them) to get his carbine of! After I had only one egg left, I decided to leave Sama in for 1 day, Sunday, so he could get over his overdoses of eggs and we could finish Leonsios cage.

Than it is Saturday Night and Pasqual comes at 23:45h through the rain to Las Vegas. “where is Id.? Can I speak with him?” “He is in is room, he went already to sleep.” “I want to talk with you as well.” And then he asks me to leave!? Wow! Why???
He says that I had 3 changes;
My first mistake, Gatos escape and the decision about Waira…
“It seems that you have a different attitude and you talk too much about your ideas to other volunteers.” “Yes, that is true, I have different ideas, but that is only because I want to help the animals as much as possible, with every idea that is possible. If you talk about problems and mistakes, than people learn from it and maybe come with different ideas, solutions.” “yes”, Pascual says,” But that is not necessary, we (the Bolivians) are here to solve the problems, if everybody starts to talk about it, it is not good for the park.” “Yes I agree, but more people have more ideas and you have to listen a little more to them.” “No, most volunteers are here only for a short time, they don`t have to know about the problems. They are here to short to solve problems or to have good ideas for solving them.” “I disagree. There was a volunteer here who worked for 3 weeks with the birds and who had an idea to make the walking with Roy safer. Only because she heard about the problems we had sometimes she started thinking about a solution. I´m here much longer than she was, but I never thought about this…”
Pascual doesn´t want to listen anymore. I give Nena headaches by talking about the problems which are already there, if I want to talk with her about them, she doesn´t want to listen. It gives her a headache and if I want to solve them before she knows, it is also not good…?
I manage to get one more day out of Pascual, to have a conversation in Spanish with translation.

After that I´m allowed to stay until Tuesday morning. To fix Leonsio´s cage and show Id.  Sama.

With help of Id. we finished Leonsio´s cage, but I had to leave Sama in for 2 days...

Tuesday, my last day, morning I let Sama out of his cage immediately after I had been talking to Pascual and I almost managed to get the second ribtie on Samas collar (it is on but not tight). Sama was to suspicious with me and Id., even after Id. left.
At 19:10u, I had to decide that he had to sleep with his lease on in his cage...
Pascual still wanted me to leave the next day, but with help from Neomi and Christmas, I was "allowed" to stay. Only, to give me a good Christmas so until Christmas Night ...

Yesterday started good, Sama was calmer, even after a night on his cord, but in the afternoon he was still suspicious about his eggs. Unfortunately his carbine was hanging upside down (big part) under his collar. I had to turn the carbine and his Collar, which I just made more tight. I opened the carbine and almost managed to get it of, but then he lost his interest in his eggs again...
I let him out again and he calmed down, until some Bolivian (tourists) came down the stream!? Sama got crazy! After an hour he calmed down a bit, but not enough to put him before dark in the cage and take of his carbine... I gave him his food to keep him away from the gate while I had to pull the chain through. I managed to get it through the bars, but just >before I could close the lock, Sama jumped up and got his claw through the bar in my left hand! Id. had to distract him to get his nail out of my hand. Impressive, but until now luckily not that painful. I can still work with it.
He slept again with on his leash, but different as yesterday, he was pissed off this morning. This was probable because of the heavy rain last night. The minute he saw the egg bowl he would jump up the door... I let him out, he calmed down and wasn´t interested in me anymore. He went up to the waterfall. I cleaned his cage. He came calmly back and I wanted to try again, before I would get Id.. No, I could still not get close to his neck and he didn´t want to touch the eggs.

Id. is now with him and we need a Christmas Miracle before tomorrow night, or Sama (we)get some problems???
What do you think, can I discus my staying for Sama with Nena, Juan Carlos and Pascual by treating them a little???
It is not personal to do me a favour , I just got an e-mail from Jennifer that I can work in her park. This sounds great to me as well, I only don´t want to leave at this moment... All we need is time and that is the only thing we don´t have...........


Hey All Sama friends,

Finally some good news from my side. Sama was/is in a good mood today. He had lately a lot of changes around him and didn´t like that. He got suspicious and even I couldn´t manage to take his carbine off anymore.
Yesterday he slowly started to calm down, but still to suspicious with me to let me take his carbine off. We prepared him a "bed" on the floor, just in case en enlarged the rain-shelter, so he would stay dry.
This morning and I managed to get his carbine of again He has now a nice clean cage, a lot of leaves hanging in there and a good mood.
Sama wishes you all a very mucho Feliz Navidad Y Gracias para total support in the bad times.

For tomorrow he will get a Christmas present in the form of a previous volunteer, Ximena, who worked with him for a long time and was very good with him.
I haven´t been a really good volunteer for him, sins I let him most of the time for half days or sometimes even whole days, in the cage, to train other volunteers with other cats... I´m happy that I could at least re-tie his collar without tranquillise him, but I think that Samas live can now only improve after all this.
 
Thanks for all your support and have a good Christmas Eve!
Martijn


I´m still in Villa Tunari,
to see how things going with Id. and Ximena. She didn´t arrive yet??? Nena and Pascaul were asking questions about her and why WE arranged her to come without letting THEM know. They say that they are not happy that we solve the problems that they have, without telling them. Last night I told them, or better Pascual, because Nena had a headache (how possible?), that we just try to help them to solve the problems. We don´t want to work behind their back, we just want to help in finding solutions.
I had actually planned to have a big discussion with Nena and Pascual, about all the problems in the park and that it seems to me that it is only getting worse. I wanted to ask them why they take the person away who talks (maybe to much) about the problems, instead of that they solve the problems?
Pascual thinks that they´re capable enough to solve the problems on their own. The volunteers are only good to do the work, not the thinking... Asking Ximena to come back is something they could´ve done them self. If she comes now than she can maybe work with Sama, but only if it is their decision, not ours... I didn´t want to fight with him and maybe making it more difficult for Ximena to come back, so I swallowed my complaining.
Pacual was not happy with me still being there (they even changed the code from the Office and this morning I couldn´t save any changes in the file!?) I listened to him to get to know more about his ideas and to worry more.... Luckily Id. got just in and tells me that he made a lot of progress with Sama   Good news, because these are Pascuals new ideas:
Id. has never seen someone putting the carbine on and off, so will have some problems to find out himself. Pascual says now that if Id. doesn´t succeed, he will bring Sama an other volunteer (Bolivian) who worked before with Sama for a long time (doesn’t exist other than Ximena)?? When this volunteer is capable enough to work with Sama, he can train 3 other volunteers, so there are more volunteers in the park who can work with Sama. This sounds good, do you think that this can work? But why only Bolivians? Pascual also wonders why Sama is not very happy and tranquil like the cats in the New Land? He thinks that he can change that a bit, but Sama is a different cat...
Pascual is thinking a lot the last week. I think that Nena gave him a lot more responsibilities, but there are also a lot of problems and he can´t handle that (yet)......
-    Monkey people who don´t know most of the names of the monkeys and there is almost left nobody to tell them those names. Even more important, there is nobody who explains them how to deal in Monkey-fights or when a monkey attacks you.
-    The mirador has one very lazy Dutch guy and another lazy Bolivian, who both don´t really know what they are doing. Sometimes Pascual helps, but he doesn´t seem to be that worried. He even allowed the Dutch guy, when he was for a few days alone at the mirado, to have lunch brakes of more than 2 hours? During this time there was nobody at the mirador!? It was no problem to go for lunch he told me???
-    In the birds and both of the quarantines (monkey and bird) it is similar. Luckily we still have Neomi to take care of the birds, but otherwise… In both of the areas they don´t really know what is going on and they don´t get much feedback when they ask for information.
-    The cat-volunteers become more and more lazy and there is nobody who really complains when they start later or finish much earlier. The cats (more the ocelots) get out of their riddem and don´t really want to walk that much anymore. Cat-people say that they help in other parts of the park. Some of them you will see at the monkey-park or the M- quarantine, but they could all spent more time with their cats and still helping, like we did in August/September.
-    Rob has his hands full with the Spiders, because there is now only one girl brave enough to work in the Spider-park. This is because a spider monkey (Adriansita) with to much hormones, starts attacks the volunteers more and more often. Luckily the girl there is an expert in Monkey-behaviour, so I have trust in her.
-    Any, Any thinks that everything is ok in the park and people are happy. This seems only because the people who are not happy don´t complain to her. She thinks that I´m bitter with the Bolivians, because I don´t understand them. She thinks that everybody is working hard (yes, to organise a big Christmas dinner, or to paint Las Vegas), but she doesn’t know when volunteers are really working hard. She is organising the painting of Las Vegas, but I’m against that, for now. I think that it is better to spend first money for the animals and if there is money left to fix first the roof, the shower, the sink the toilet etc... A lot of volunteers agree with me, only most of them don´t tell her (they tell me, but don´t want to insult Any, because she tries to do a good job…) The problem is that she already tells new volunteers, when they come in, that Vegas is an old and lived place. That is not so nice to stay there and even worse to stay at the Casa. She says sorry to the people who have to stay in the case. A good way to welcome new volunteers… She thinks that I tell to much to volunteers. She disagrees with me when I tell volunteers: Even if Nena says that she has no money, you can still keep on asking and complaining, because somehow she always find some money when it is really needed. If you don’t complain, they think that that everything goes well with your animal. I think that Annabel the only volunteer is who thinks that it is better for me to leave.
-    It is now even so worse that volunteers of Vegas complain more and more about the place and cleaning (in this last their right), so Nena is angry with Albina (the nice women who takes care of Las Vegas), because she spends to less time cleaning the place… Nena is thinking of replacing Albine!? But she forget that Albine had lately a lot of trouble with her husband and is working on 2 other places to earn enough money for bringing her kids to school. She gets really not enough money from Nena to do this…
-    The meat-run (buying meat for the cats) is now done by the Bolivians and it really happens quite often that the meat is to late. Was this first a problem when the volunteers did it and came to late, now Pasqual says:” O, they didn´t arrive yet? Wait a little more, they will come soon.” He doesn´t care that al the cats walk half an hour later…?
-    Pasqual wants to change a lot in the park, more Bolivians (that can be a good idea) and also a little stricter rules; If someone is talking bad about the park, he/she will get much less credit in staying... He is even thinking of changing the rules for working with Simba! "Why?" "I saw that Simba is lately more aggressive towards new volunteers." "Why? Because Simba jumped on you. You handled him wrong and Simba got aggressive? You, a vet who even jumped into his cage and let an inexperienced volunteer within Simbas range. This volunteer got scratches because you handled wrong, not because of Simba?" But if I would tell him this he will be more pissed and will be more likely to do stupid things... So first he interferes with Roy´s treatment (not even complaining that Roy´s volunteers have a lunch brake at the casa which is now possible because Roy is so easy to direct), because he thinks that he knows what he is saying and now he want to change the way of working with Simba? I really hope that he has luck, because it will not be because of his knowledge about the cats, when his ideas are working. I hope he stays away from Leonsio and let Id. deal with him…

I was always saying that, if I leave this park, I will probably never come back, since there are more places in the world I want to visit. Now however I´m willing to come back to solve their future problems with the cats. It seems that I got a little addicted to the park…
But if I come back, than Pascual and Nena have to apologies and accept that we need to find professional help, to help us with the training of the cats.
I still love the park and the animals and I will even come back with the Bolivians, but only when they ask for help, otherwise there is nothing that I can do anymore.
I wish Id. a lot of luck in this situation and hope that some good volunteers show up to change the situation...


Hey,
I think that you´re right about the ego of Pascual and Nena, but just before I HAVE TO leave out of Villa Tunari, I wanted to update you with finally some more good news;
You know already that yesterday Id. made a lot more progress with Sama and his confidence is slowly starting to grow. Ximena also arrived yesterday afternoon and they allowed her now to stay for some time. Only at this moment we think that it is maybe better that Id. spend first a little more time alone with Sama, sins he makes every day more progress. We are afraid that bringing in Ximena now will make Id. a second person again. At least Id. can get now some more feedback from an experienced Sama-volunteer.
I would wish to stay to help more, but every day I stay more, I piss the Bolivians more off. I don´t care much about that, but maybe it can become bad for Id....
 
Some other good news; Yesterday there came finally some progress in finding a solution for Waira. One previous volunteer of Waira came back and was very disappointed to see Waira back in her small cage. I think that she again (together with the new volunteer, who takes now care of her) is been complaining about the situation of Waira. The husband of the new volunteer has construction experiences. He started already to make a plan for the construction of a cage of 4.5m by 4.5m by 3m. There have been done some donations, Nena promised now to give some money as well (she has to...) and I´m still waiting for one, maybe 2 donations... If there is enough (and we prefer much more for a bigger cage), then they can start building.

To make this park running smooth again we need some good volunteers who like to work and who are capable of dealing with stress, Nena and Pascual. Unfortunately Rob can´t handle that (yet). He is good with Nena and Pascual, but is to nice to the volunteers to let them work and Any is saying that everyone is already working very hard. Not compare to a few months ago…

By the way, did you hear anything about the baby-ocelots who got released in the New Land? It was not on purpose, but it worked out very, very well. Great news! Thanks to Chihiro /the Japanese girl.
Nena and Pascual think that without them, there wouldn´t be no park. But they seem to forget sometimes that there would be no park without the volunteers as well... and most of the time it are the volunteers who make the most progress. Lets hope that good volunteers are keep on coming. That they find ways to work with Nena and Pascual to keep on improving the live of the animals. The animals don´t deserve to be the victim of conflicts between the Bolivians and the volunteers. In the end it we all want to take care of the animals, the best we can…
I wrote a message about this on the (just ugly pink painted) wall of Las Vegas. But unfortunately Any became angry and took it away;

Animals have an instinct that tells them how to survive with problems,
Humans have imagination that helps them to solve problems or to prevent future problems.
Lets not act like animals and use our imagination to help them...

What about myself? I just arrived in Sucre where I´m planning to celebrate the end of a special year. I got about 70bs stolen, on a very stupid way, on the bus to Sucre, but I´m in a very good mood. This is because of a just received e-mail, what a great news!
Just before the end of the year I got a message from an old volunteer who wants to donate 600 Euro for Waira´s cage!
These are the volunteers who keep the park improving.

Happy New year to all of you and make it a special one!
Sayonara,
Martijn

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