When I received yet another EMS email that had been sent to the whole vet school, I almost deleted it out of habit, but something stopped me. A word caught my eye: Bolivia.
I had always wanted to go to South America – would this be my chance to tick something off the bucket list as well as get in a few weeks of EMS?
After a few days of mulling it over, I decided to fill out the online application – I could always change my mind, and I might not even get selected anyway – but the next day, I received an email inviting me to take part in a Skype interview. Shortly afterwards, I was offered a place on the project, so I decided to bite the bullet and say yes.
The project I will be volunteering on runs a wildlife sanctuary that houses various types of monkeys and birds as well as jaguars and pumas. Many of the animals are rescued from the fur and pet trades. While re-release back into the wild is difficult (especially for the big cats, due to local laws), the animals are given a much better life in the sanctuary than the alternative.
As well as handling and work with the animals, the students on the project will help construct new animal enclosures. The project itself lasts for six weeks, but I will be then going on to Peru for a two-week expedition afterwards.
Before going abroad, I’ve had to organise vaccinations against hepatitis, typhoid, yellow fever and rabies. I’ve also had to obtain malaria tablets to take while I’m out there. As for equipment, I haven’t had to buy too many “specialist” things as such – just a big rucksack, old clothes and the odd thing like water purification tablets and rehydration sachets.
With less than a week to go, I’m starting to get excited but still in shock that it’s actually happening. And I really need to start packing!
I’ll let you know how it was when I return to the UK in two months!