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viernes, 11 de mayo de 2012

A State of Equilibrium and Covering up Our Dirty Little Secret

A couple of weeks ago I dropped Mick and his family off at the bus terminal in Santa Rosa and collected two new arrivals. Inge, from Denmark, has joined the primate team and Kelsey from the USA, is a general volunteer and is helping out with the many projects we have running at the moment. Their arrival marked the beginning of a period of calm; you could say equilibrium, here at Laguna Blanca. Much as I enjoy the high turn over of volunteers we have passing though here, there are also rare occasions when we have a few weeks with no arrivals and departures. It’s at these times when I get the chance to pause for a moment and reflect on what a wonderful life I lead and how lucky I am to be here. And so with that in mind I thought this would be a good opportunity to give you the reader a taste of what a typical day at Laguna Blanca is like. There are currently 10, soon to be eleven, of us in the house. Our mornings begin at first light which is when traps need to be checked. So everyone who is undertaking fieldwork us usually up and fed by 6am. The primate team head out into the forest on our motocart and spend a few hours looking for the monkeys in an effort to increase their contact time and work towards habituating the group. This will then be followed by machetting new trails in order to open up the forest to allow further access to the monkeys. Nick and Noah are studying the opossums we have here and so check the traps each morning. Rich has just had his proposal approved and will beginning trapping and recording the behaviour of Microteiid lizards this week. Dec is running the camera trap project so is moving his traps on a regular basis and Augusta is out in the cerrado getting filthy measuring Clyomys burrows. By mid-morning/lunch time everyone is back at the house. Nick and Noah might have a small mammal for me to process for the museum and Dec doesn’t get any peace and quiet until he has seen if there was anything on the cameras! After a hearty lunch the volunteers all work on a number of tasks needed to help keep this place running; varnishing butterfly boxes, painting signs, improving our maps, laminating photographs etc all of these small but significant jobs are so important to us here at PLT. It’s not just the little jobs that the volunteers do to help keep this place amazing. Last week we took on a massive job. Here in rural Paraguay there is NO environmental awareness and waste management or recycling are simply not concepts people understand. So for us as an environmental organisation it is a real challenge disposing of waste. We reuse what we can, glass jars or bottles for example are used in the museum or as vegetable patch borders and cans can be sold for a small amount of cash. Beyond that however the only options we have are to burn or bury our waste and with limited space the latter has now become a problem. We had a couple of large pits behind the house where non-burnable waste was being “disposed” of. However over the months these have overflowed and needed a good sort out. So that is exactly what we did! All of us took it on one morning last week and in the space of two hours had collected, sorted and organised all of the rubbish from the two pits and the surrounding area. Plastic bottles, cans and glass jars that had made their way in there have been removed and sorted for various projects we have coming up, tins are ready for collection and best of all the two pits are now buried and a massive new pit has been dug. Not only that but we now have a fully functional fire pit once again and on our next trip to Santa Rosa we will buy some new big bins so we can continue separating our waste and keep this good thing going. All of our volunteers past, present, and I am sure future, are so precious to us at Laguna Blanca, we simply could not do what we do without them. And it is nice on occasion to have the chance to sit back and reflect on what a great project I work for. “Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless” (Anon)

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