Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Instead of doing “traditional” blog posts this summer, Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their summer routines via photos. Carissa Pityer just returned from volunteering at an animal rehab center in Guatemala; here’s a typical day at the center there:
Hello honors students! I’m Carissa Pityer and I had the amazing opportunity to go on a short, two-week study abroad to El Peten, Guatemala to volunteer and learn at ARCAS Rehabilitation Center. Every morning I woke up at 5:45 to the sound of wild howler monkeys, and trekked up to the rehabilitation area where I was assigned several animal enclosures to take care of for the week.
From 6:30 to about 7:30, we took care of our assigned animals. In the mornings we would clean and then feed and water the animals. Let me tell you, people think parrots are adorable. But when there are 35 in an enclosure and it’s breakfast-time, their squawking is DEAFENING. You also get the pleasure of being “dropped on”… but hey, it’s Guatemala, and these are wild parrots so it’s still pretty COOL!
8:00 signals breakfast time! One thing if for sure, you won’t go hungry in Guatemala! Homemade tortillas for every meal, and black beans for that matter too. The actual eating part of breakfast usually was over in about 10 minutes because we were always starving. Then we got to sit back and relax for about 20 minutes before our morning meeting. The volunteer coordinator, Anna, would go through the list of cages and ask us if everything was taken care of, and if there was anything we had questions about regarding the animals in our care. After that, jobs were assigned to volunteers and those of us who were students either went off to lecture or to an animal practice.
Why yes, that is a CROCODILE! One of the coolest animals I have ever gotten to work with! I had the honor of putting my fingers dangerously close to its mouth while taping it shut. I learned how to check the general body condition, how to draw blood from underneath the base of the tail, and also how to determine the sex of a crocodile. My dad totally didn’t believe it was real when I sent him this picture!
11 a.m. meant time for another cleaning and feeding of the animal enclosures. This little kinkajou here looks adorable, but has a bite strong enough to do some serious damage to your hand! At the rehabilitation center, we are encouraged to not treat the animals like pets. So unfortunately, even though this gal is adorable, when the animals got too friendly we had to shoo them away with a broom or water. Wild animals are meant to be wild, and in order to be re-released into the wild, they have to show that they can fend for themselves.
Lunch time came around 1 p.m. after the 11 o’clock feeding and cleaning of the animal enclosures. Once again, TORTILLAS!!! Soooooo gooooood. I usually had at least three for every meal…
The final feeding of the day was at 2 p.m. This one was always the best because we usually didn’t have to clean, we just served the animals their dinner.
After the 2 p.m. feeding, we were allowed to go off and do whatever we wanted. One day, a few of us decided to go exploring around the jungle and came upon a rope swing. When in Guatemala, take every opportunity you are given! As I was jumping into the lake, I got a beautiful view of the mountains across the water.
Dinner tiiiiiime! 6 p.m. every night we were served our last meal. Dinner usually consisted of some sort of meat, either chicken or fish. Like I said before, you definitely won’t go hungry in Guatemala! Dinner was always fun because all of us staying at the center had more time to sit back, hang out, and get to know each other. I made so many connections and friendships that I will appreciate for years to come.
To cap it off, here’s me administering oral vitamins to a spider monkey, and properly restraining a parrot without getting my fingers bitten off! I learned so much during my time in Guatemala, and I definitely wasn’t ready to leave when my time was up. I would encourage everyone to look into study abroad programs or traveling internationally, because this experience changed my life and reinforced my dreams of becoming a veterinarian. I hope you all are having an amazing summer!! P.S. GO STATE!!