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viernes, 16 de agosto de 2013

Fighting fires, freezing and friends – That’s life at PLT

July was a busy month of coming and going at PLT. We said a sad farewell to Annie, Charlotte and Kasper. Hello and goodbye to Brooke and Rebecca, two devils from New Orleans and hello to Emma, a general volunteer from the UK and Anna, another monkey person from Ireland. I left for three weeks to go back to Edinburgh and Karina finally returned from two months away in Geneva, Glasgow and Mexico. When in Scotland (where the weather was hotter than I have ever known it to be!!) I spoke to the people who were still at Laguna Blanca and was told over and over again how cold it was. So as I prepared for the long journey back to Laguna Blanca I dressed for the cold – boots, jacket, the works. And I stuffed my suitcase full of warm clothes including a thermal monkey onesie making Anna, our new primate volunteer very jealous!! When I finally arrived back in Paraguay I got off the plane to blazing sunshine, and definitely feeling a bit silly with all my winter gear on! Then on the hottest day, with temperatures soaring to more than 35 degree Celsius we were faced with an emergency. Over the tops of the trees Jorge spotted a column of black smoke rising upwards. The guards went to investigate and about half an hour later we received the call – a fire was burning inside the reserves Atlantic Forest fragment. Time to round the troops, load the truck with spades, thermo’s full of ice and water, rakes, machetes and go fight the fire!!! It didn’t start well with some misunderstanding on my part we ended up hauling a lot of very heavy stuff down a long trail at the wrong end of the forest…woops. Then when we got to the right end of the forest we had to machete our way to the fire. When Joe, JP, Ryan and myself got to the flames we realized our mistake - the fire was HUGE. The forest was also very dry and the wind was to strong so it was time to beat a hasty retreat and enter the forest through the other side where we finally found the Paraguayans. By this point they had got the fire in the area under control and were moving further down the forest, so we all headed back to the truck. However, when we got there and were deciding whom to send home for food we heard shouts from the forest. Grabbing shovels and machetes the boys and I ran back into the forest to help. The heat was intense and it was an awful sight to watch the tiny fragment of burning. We fought it as best we could, throwing sand onto the small flames and beating the larger ones with green leafy branches. Too often we were forced back as large trees lit up like torches and the heat became too intense. After more than 5 hours of fighting the flames we got the fire under control and covered in ash and scratches and exhausted we headed back to the station for much needed showers and well deserved cold beers!
Autumn is winter down here in Paraguay and the rain and the cold weather struck back with a vengeance two days after the fire. The cold weather does have an upside. When it isn’t raining one fun way to escape the cold and warm up is playing volleyball. The games begin and tend to continue until we can’t see the ball anymore as it gets dark. Things can get pretty serious – especially as the testosterone kicks in and the boys get competitive but it always hilarious to watch Ryan’s flying dives for the ball or me and Janine hit the deck whenever it comes near us!!! As the nights close in around 6pm we eat dinner and light a fire out the front of the house. There is nothing quite like sitting round a fire with good friends while the incredible Paraguayan stars sparkle overhead. On nights when we don’t light a fire the whole group snuggles down under piles of blankets and hot water bottles in the boys’ dorm to watch movies. One of the best things about spending time at a remote field site like PLT is the chance to meet people from all over the world, and even though you aren’t spending a very long time with them they become your best friends. And even after you leave chances are you have met people that will be your friends forever! Come join us and see for yourself!! Until next time Becca

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