Flashback – life with the monkeys 2008

Subject:  HI! Long time, no talk!

Date: April 16, 2008

Wow! My last update was March 4th. I’ve been here 7 weeks and it’s quite crazy busy here. (Of course, I know you all would expect nothing less of me!)  

I’m full-on into my position as Volunteer Supervisor and there are 23 volunteers here right now, so it’s quite busy. In my typical day, I get up as the monkeys jump on my tent at around 5:30 or 6am. (Peace Boat was a water-proof door, Vervet Monkey Foundation is monkeys! … great alarm clocks! Haha) I usually head up to the Cottage for some food and tea (usually AllBran and Corn Flakes and a piece of fruit, or some toast and a piece of fruit… I made Chai Tea for all the volunteers a while ago and there is still some left, so sometimes I have Chai, or Rooibos which is decaffeinated) and to check my emails from Josie. We do the majority of our communication via email, although sometimes we text on cell phones, and we’ve got some walkie talkies we’re trying to get to work but have constantly had problems with! Josie isn’t too well, and spends a lot of time resting, so email is the best way for her to keep in touch. 


 Sometimes I leave to drop Volunteers off at the bus stop, if they are leaving the Foundation after their time here – we leave at 7:30am for that. Generally I walk around and make sure everybody is doing okay. If new people have arrived, I give them an orientation about how things work around here, and let them know about Monkey Integrations into troops and so forth. Then we go for a tour around the Foundation. 


I often give introductions to various tasks throughout the day to new volunteers: introduction to how to wash the poopy blankets, introduction to washing the bowls the monkeys eat from, introduction to cleaning the tent village. They aren’t major tasks, but good to make sure everybody’s doing them the same way. 


Often I make birthday cards, and signs for various outings, trips, new policies, and stuff during the day – I’m on the computer a lot. About two weeks ago, one of my favourite volunteers left the door to the Cottage open. A monkey came in, and was sitting on the computer when Dave (co-founder and Josie’s husband) came in to shut the door. The monkey got a fright and peed on the computer!!!! As the monitor sizzled, the monkey fled. But, we’re down to one computer now. The internet is run via satellite and is quite unreliable. If the weather is overcast, the internet is intermittent. If there is a thunder storm, the internet gets unplugged so lightning doesn’t fry the computers. Sometimes when it’s beautiful and sunny out, they change the battery on the satellite station high in the mountains and the internet is down. Sometimes people steal the cable that provides the satellite connection, so the internet is down. So, what I’m really trying to say is:

the internet is down a lot! And, we have only one computer, for 23 volunteers. I do as much of my work during the day as the volunteers are usually working and I can monopolize the computer…. 


Dinners are still GREAT and I love the food – we had a new dish, a Bean Lasagna the other night – it rivaled the Cashew Nut Loaf, for sure! On the weekends, one night Dave & Josie cook and the other night some volunteers will cook. I’ve cooked with other volunteers twice – once we made Quinoa with Butternut Squash Gratin, and another time we made Couscous and my Chai Tea. The best night was when somebody made pizza! Yum. I loved the vegetarian pizza – avocado, peppers, pineapple, olives, tomato…. Yum yum! Luckily it was without onions!


Weekends we generally go on various outings…. maybe save that for next time.


So, not too long ago a baby monkey got from it’s small enclosure with its mother into a large enclosure and was being beat up. So, the Sick Bay team moved in and rescued him. His mother was VERY young, scrawny and quite unfit to be a mom. So, we’ve become surrogate parents to him. He’s been named Fraggle. He’s quite dark for a Vervet and just plain adorable. He is in with the other babies during the day, though he gets beat up quite a bit. He’s 3 months old and the others are mostly about 6 months old. He doesn’t sleep with his other orphaned brothers and sisters, but he sleeps with us humans. I have been lucky enough to have him sleep with me about 5 or 6 times. 



I will go to the Sick Bay where the Babies sleep at about 6:30 or 7pm, which is their bed time. I make him a bottle (with a thin nipple so it’s small enough to fit in his little baby mouth) and get his little basket (like a plastic picnic basket) ready with blankets and towels to pick up poop. Then, I wrap him up and take him to my tent. We are escorted by another person who escorts us and is meant to carry a stick. We are worried that the bandit monkeys (a troop of monkeys who aren’t in enclosures and just live around here – some are escaped from enclosures, others just live here because of the food but are really wild) may try to steal him. The ‘escort’ has the job of protecting us if a bandit tries to attack or steal Fraggle. My job is to protect Fraggle with my life! He’s usually asleep by this time, so that’s good – he doesn’t make a sound and I get to my tent no problem! 


He generally wakes back up when I get to my tent – all the jostling to get inside. So, we have a cuddle, he explores my tent (he loves to climb!) and then gets a bottle and I pet his head until he falls asleep in his fleece blanket. I put him back in his basket and stroke his head again til he falls back to sleep. 


 I really value the time alone in my tent on these nights – I read and/or write in my journal. And I always go to bed early. Very nice! 


Of course, the first few times he slept with me, I was so afraid he’d wake up and I’d not hear him and I’d roll over and crush him. Or, that he would get out and crawl around in my tent – I knew he couldn’t get out, but always worried maybe he would somehow get out! Of course, now I’m much more relaxed and do find I wake up no problem if he wakes. 


Fraggle does sometimes wakes up – the first two nights he cried out for him mom, but now he is a little less lonely. If he cries out, he gets a big cuddle and a bit of bottle if he wants it. 


The last two times I had him, he often crawled out of bed and cuddled up next to me. It woke me up and we cuddle and then I wrap him in his blanket and he cuddles on my chest til he falls asleep and I start to fall asleep and then I put him back in his basket. He cuddles up about 6 times a night – a little less sleep than I’d like, but still wonderful.


In the morning, the early baby shift person will come and escort me and Fraggle to play with his adopted brothers and sisters. 


Think that’s about it for now.. Very long email!   


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