Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shaking Off a Bug Before We Fly; Shaking Hands with Monkeys Too

SMC Amazon 2014: Day 20

Day 19 is finally up.  Day 17 (which was missing) is there too.  Today is our last day in Brazil and we are doing our last minute shopping and sightseeing.  We sadly got struck by some weird bug that meant that about half of us have thrown up, some enough to get pretty dehydrated.  Our doctor friend in town has set us up beautifully to get us everything we need but, unfortunately, she cannot prevent anyone from getting sick in the first place.

Everyone who got sick rallied and is up and about except for one, whose late-breaking bout with the bug has her symptoms going on longer than the rest.  That person is on fluids now and should be up and about pretty soon.

We have one last excursion planned for today for those who are feeling like it: a trip to a zoo hospital to see the sick and injured animals that have been brought from all around the region.  Though it might sound depressing to visit sick animals, they are all on the mend and definitely worth seeing.  The last time an SMC Amazon group was there, we got to touch a baby jaguar.  We will report in later if we can to tell you about this visit.

ADDED INFO:  We made it to the zoo hospital and we are REALLY glad that we managed to make it happen.  We got to go even though the facility was technically closed because we had some connections that helped us to get in.  We started at some enclosures that held injured alligators, birds and turtles, then visited one of the staff areas where some of the recovering animals are just around and outside of any enclosures.  These include huge birds like macaws and toucans and -- perhaps best of all for some of us -- cute little monkeys!  The monkeys were shy at first when our big group arrived, but soon they jumped from one shoulder to another and let us hold them and pet them (and, of course, take pictures with them).   One in particular preferred women to men (and long-haired women in particular).  We all took down our ponytails to attract that monkey to us and it would swing in our hair and go from one of us to another, making hilarious little monkey noises all the while.

We then walked the trail to a number of different enclosures, where we got to see lots of different kinds of monkeys, all of whom reached out to us with their hands, feet and tails to connect with us.  We saw lots of birds, including the biggest bird of prey in the world, called a "gavião" in Portuguese.  We saw different kinds of small cats and strange rodents (?) with a special guide telling us of the details about why the animals are there.  There were two big cats in the main part of the zoo hospital that looked pretty much like mountain lions.

We then went to the quarantine area where some of the more injured animals were.  We saw lots of manatees in specially built tanks and we saw a beautiful adult jaguar and an adorable baby one.  We saw lots more birds and oversized rodents and we even got to get really close to an injured sloth.  We had to hurry away from the zoo to get home to pack but we have no regrets about finding a way to fit this trip into our last day's agenda. 

We fly tonight and arrive back in California on Tuesday.  We will hole up in a computer lab for awhile to finish our projects so you might not see us in person until the weekend.

Thanks again for following our travels and for letting us feel you "out there" as we explore this beautiful new world.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

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