Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Every cloud has a silver lining

Yesterday was a bad day. Just about everything that could go wrong did.
Because of the heavy rains, the local rivers, which cross the roads here, were swollen and impassable on foot or bike. Our staff come from a village some eight kilometers beyond Canaote and need to ford three rivers. The result was that none of them arrived for work. This left me with the heavy chore of cleaning six enclosures, and preparing breakfast and dinner for our ten children. I must say this is no mean task. This is not to mention the chickens, a turkey and six dogs, two macaws and a green parrot.

The second disaster occurred at about three o’clock in the afternoon when I discovered that Mañiña was not in his enclosure. He had gone walkies and was nowhere to be found. This was my main anxiety over the next fourteen hours. All night I was awake least I should hear him on the roof or trying to get back into the house.
The next event was a call from William my driver. He had been arrested and taken to the local police station, charged with receiving and handling a shotgun without proper documentation. Strangely, he had just finished his negotiation for the gun and paid for it, when a police officer arrived on a motorbike and said ‘allo, ‘allo what’s all this. William complains that the whole scene was complicity. This was shortly resolved in Venezuelan style, by me over the telephone. No charges and the gun was properly documented in any case, and that is the end of the matter.

At about three thirty, I took dinner around to the children. Imanol followed me without being noticed. I opened Totto’s door, and entered, Sophie was looking under the door, she suspected that there was another monkey outside. She was right. Sophie suddenly rushed past me, intent on attacking Imanol. Just in time, I scooped him up and held him safely in my arms but not in time to prevent Sophie from escaping. She spent the next two hours in the high trees racing around the canopy like a wild thing. I enjoyed watching her jump from high branch to high branch, she is very skilled. One thing you have to know about Sophie is that she loves bananas. I took a large banana from the kitchen and offered it to Sussy. This was too much for Sophie and she came down from the tree tops get her share. And so to bed for Sophie but not before Totto had given her a clip behind the ear for deserting him.
At seven the next morning, Dennis one of the staff, arrived with Mañiña in his arms. Curiously, he found him in exactly the same spot where Imanol had been found a few days before, hiding among the plants in the greenhouse. I just could not bring myself to believe that Mañiña would desert me, after the good relationship we have formed. He knows that I care for him and that he is loved and wanted here. He was relieved and happy to be back in my arms and very hungry. Of course, we have had a post mortem, why did he want to leave? We discovered that he had an quarrel with Emma, with whom he is sharing. She can be argumentative and has eyes only for Schatov. He was trying to get away from her. We have divided the enclosure as a temporary measure, so that he has access to my room at night but separate from Emma and Schatov. Emma and Schatov occupy Chateau Schatov. We will make a more permanent arrangement later in the week. More about the social attitudes among howlers in another posting.

Well everything had a happy conclusion, everyone is safe and well, and it shows that even a very bad day can turn out well in the end.

Our picture shows Dennis, and Mañiña just returned from his trip and very glad to be back home.
I also have some good shots of fruit and orchids here at Canaote. All coming soon.

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