Monday, 12 October 2009

Doctor Jane Goodall

I´ll admit, I was a little cynical about the preparation that consumed everyone at Paeque Machia in the days leading up to the arrival of Doctor Jane Goodall (or JG as I affectionately call her). Scrubbing the outside of the monkey cages seemed utterly futile, would she really appreciate the fact that the outsides of the monkey cages in the middle of the jungle were immaculate? And as I chopped together a dull dinner of green beans and mouldy cucumber (we normally try and serve at least 3 varieties of veg for monkey teatime) I was joking that we were scrimping and saving so that we could afford caviar to serve up in front of JG. And then when someone suggested we should get t-shirts saying ´Look busy Jane is coming´ I laughed very hard.

I knew that Sunday, her date of arrival, would be a day involving lots of Monkey Nuts (Monkeys love them, but they are a bugger to clear up), and oculd potentially be a day with a great anti climax.

She was due to arrive at midday, but her flight was delayed so she rocked up later to be greeted by 30 orphans. Inti Wara Yassi is more than just an animal rehab centre, an oprhanage in Cochabamba is crucial to the work we do here, oprhan kids are given a sense of purpose as they are DEfenders of Nature and the Environment and help find mistreated animals in Zoos and at circuses. It was great to have the kids here to welcome her.

Jane´s only real port of call on Sunday was the Monkey Park. I had been explicitly told, after asking a direct and explicitly obvious question, that the day must go on as normal... So if the Machos appear I can shout them off and throw stones as normal? Well, i wasn´t allowed to throw stones, but I was allowed to shout them off. But of course when Jane and the monkey nuts arrived at the monkey park with hoards of kids, so did the machos. Johni the vet (and master of stitches) gave me a look that said DON´T START SHOUTING. As Jane and the children played with the monkeys in the glorious/hideous sunshine (glorious for sunbathing in, hideous for working in) efforts were made to subtly get rid of the machos without drawing attention the fact that the park was being invaded. It came to cooking time and I disappeared down to the kitchen away from the infuriating suppressed macho invasion. It was a lovely scene though, the animals were great with her and just came to her like a Disney scene. Her aura was incredible, she was almost unhuman in the way the animals gravitated to her inner calm and her oneness with the animals was amazing. Incredible. Naturally dinenr was a feast, we had already dished up pineapples as a new feature of the fruit salad lunch, so when I saw beetroots, cabbages, lettuces, carrots, tomatos, cucumbers et al it was awesome. It was great to dish up such variety, but by the time it was time for dinner, Jane and the orphans had gone off. The monkeys enjoyed it all though.

A special dinner was planned for the evening and everyone in the park helped out with the prep and got very excited with the menu of Roasted Beetroots, Minted Green Breans, Sweet Potato Soufle, Soya MEat Rostini, Risotto and a dessert of Brownies and Pavlova. It wasn´t just the monkeys eating well today!

Dinner for 80 (volunteers and all important people) was served in the main room of the site, which has been a construction zone for the last few weeks with constant welding and cage guilding going on. This usualy scuzzy site was beautiful with flowers, candles, mishmatch cutlery adn tablecloths. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

As you´d expect from the incredible menu dinner was amazing. Jane gave a lovely speech at the end of the meal and was full of positivity about the park and all she had seen. It was great to have her support for the work we do, especially given the politics that frustrate the the organisation. She was so serene even after a glass of wine and it was very peaceful and calming to be in her presences. We gave her monkey noises and chanted the Inti Wara Yassi chant to her to show her appreciation.

Afterwards she posed for photos and I asked her kindly if she would mind posing ofr a HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL photo with me. SHe was too kind to say no, and a couple of others joined on my 3 Monkeys bandwagon and we got an awesome photo! Hilarious! I asked her after if people asked her to strike the pose often (i hoped i wasn´t just part of a big unoriginal cliche) but she told me this was the first time she had ever been asked! Oh yeah! Originality at its best.

It was an awesome evining and the 24 hours that Jane has spent at the park ahs been a real priviledge ofr the park and all the volunteers who are here. I have lvoed my time at Inti Warra Yassi, but the arrival of Jane and the teamwork in the run up to her arrival has really made me feel like I am part of something worthwhile and very sepcial indeed. Everyone thinks the Inti Wara Yassi chant is a bit trash, but I love it, I feel so part of the place, and feel liek a very appreciated memebr of the Inti Warra Yassi family. I am overflowing with love right now for the Park and I am soo incredibly happy that I made the time to take the detour and be here. Obviously Jane Goodall dosn´t appear every week, and I have been in the right place at the right time, but it has been a great volunteering experience, and even greater given the fact that it has all be spontaneous and unplanned. It is my last day at work tomorrow and I am incredibly sad, I would love to stay for longer, and I am very jealous of those volunteers who have been here for months. Despite the few gripes I have with the place, I have so much respect for the organisation and the people who make everything happen here, it is fantastic and having Jane Goodall here acknowledging our efforts is quite simply special!

1 comment:

  1. Amy, what a fantastic memory to capture and take away with you. Well Done. X X X