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Costa Rica: Spring Break 09
Rainsong is a small wildlife sanctuary in the tiny town of Cabuya, Costa Rica. Cabuya is several kilometers by dirt road outside of the popular Pacific tourist beach destination of Montezuma. The sanctuary is located on several acres up a hill from the main street, and additionally Rainsong owns more land about a half kilometer further up the hill. The upper land is home to a volunteer house, a storage barn and several more animals. The sanctuary inhabitants include a couple of wildcats, an anteater, a honey bear, some porcupines, various birds, some pigs, a couple of injured monkeys, a baby skunk and various dogs and goats.
The Eckerd students anticipated that they were going to be volunteering in animal care at Rainsong, but instead they found themselves doing a number of manual labor projects that were necessary to the growth of the sanctuary. Their help was invaluable to Rainsong, and the work was extremely hard. The daytime temperatures in Cabuya probably exceed 100 degrees, and since we were there in the dry season, the sun shone all the time. Due to the excessive heat, the students volunteered from 8-12 in the mornings and were not asked to return in the afternoons. Truly, that 4 hours of service was equivalent to 12 hours given the strain of working under such conditions.
Specifically the students dug a trench for the foundation for an enclosure to house the wildcats that currently live in overly small cages. The foundation was to be roughly 12 feet on each side and was dug to a depth of approximately one foot. The digging involved the students' breaking up tree roots and other undergrowth in order to get the shovel to the necessary depth. While one group dug the foundation, another group bagged sand and carried the sacks up the hill. On another day the Eckerd crew cleaned a woodshed in preparation for an inspection of the Costa Rican authorities the following weekend. The most challenging job of all required the Eckerd team to climb higher up the hill and move wood planks weighing perhaps 100 pounds each, down the hill on a path which was being macheted in front of them as they went along. Walking down the path which was curvy and covered in wet leaves, was challenging and even a little dangerous.
The Eckerd students spent their final volunteer day at the Montezuma village school. They had done fund raising prior to travel and with some of the money they had purchased stickers, markers, pipe cleaners and paper plates to do animal-related craft projects with the school children. This was universally every Eckerd student's favorite activity and the school children were charmed by their enthusiastic new mentors.