Last Work Days at Merazonia and a Zoo in Shell — A Travel Tale

Work’s been pretty relaxed this week during my last work days at Merazonia, so I really can’t understand why I’ve got this blasted cold.

I did some work on these dry composting toilets during my last work days at Merazonia.
Washrooms and shower house (with dry composting bins in plain view)

Well, in any case, I now know that I’d rather paint three coats in a whole room with drywall than paint one coat on a small cement holding tank. For toilets, no less! I actually had to step in there! Thank goodness it’s a dry toilet, with buckets and hoses attached to the front of the toilets for urine, and that it hadn’t yet been used for defecation!

Plus, my nails are black again from the paint!

Ok, ok, not complaining…

We also partially dismantled the counter in the kitchen as it had mould beneath the bottom shelf. We decided to remove that shelf entirely then repair the cabinet legs we had to cut. Afterwards, we cleaned the rest of the counter and varnished it to protect against more mould. I had to take the nails out of the old wood so we could use it to mix cement on or put beneath ladders so they don’t slip in the omnipresent mud.

The kitchen building at Merazonia, with a wooden picnic table outside.
Kitchen and outdoor picnic area
For more on volunteer life at Merazonia, check out Memories of a Carnivore.

We actually did mix cement this week (I just watched and occasionally got water from the river). We’ve made the floor of what will be the animal-proof dry-waste bin, which of course means we hauled more sand and stone with Monty.

These last work days at Merazonia have seemed a lot slower-paced, though, I guess because my energy levels were down (and I didn’t see this cold coming!). And so, I took Thursday and Friday off.

Jen and Frank came with me into Puyo yesterday, but they did go in to work today. I, on the other hand, was struck with a fever yesterday afternoon which has pretty much paralysed me for the past two days. I’m supposed to leave for Baños tomorrow, but I seriously doubt that’s happening.

On the bright side, I got to play with monkeys (!) while visiting a small zoo on the military base in Shell.

Most of the animals were caged but some monkeys and birds roamed free. Two small monkeys jumped on me and when I extended my arms, decided to show off their agility on my body! They were sooo cute!

Another monkey was teasing the resident dog, slapping it around then jumping just-out-of-reach onto a fence to avoid the canine’s annoyed bite. Adorable (and hilarious)!

Parrots, vultures, turtles, crocodiles, a boa, an ocelot, and some wild boars also lived there.

Sadly, while all the animals had food, few had water. We gave some agua to two trejons.

They’re these cute little mammals. The word translates as “badgers” but they’re sooo not! They’ve got longish snouts and rings around their tails, like raccoons. People here actually keep them as pets.

All in all, I thought the animals looked somewhat well-cared-for, except for the chickens, which were jam-packed in their tiny coop, and the boa, which was in a small cage without any trees to wrap itself around.

My feelings on zoos vacillate often, but I’m pretty sure animals don’t belong there unless they’re injured or unable to survive in the wild. But then, shouldn’t every effort be made to rehabilitate and release them, rather than display, parade, and exploit them?