Volunteer Review: Tessa D., Rainforest Conservation in Peru
I’ve always loved the rainforest and since my first time visiting it, have always wanted to go back. So, on a break between semesters at college, I decided to spend a month at Taricaya in Peru.
There is so much I want to say about my month at Taricaya, but it’s so hard to find words that can even begin to describe my experience. A friend I met at Taricaya taught me a phrase before I left, nadie te quita lo vivido. It sounds better in Spanish, but it roughly translates to no one can take from you what you have lived. To me, this represents my time at Taricaya and reminds me that everything I do and experience becomes a part of who I am.
I think it is natural to feel a little bit uneasy about going to live in a remote part of the rainforest for a period of time, but any anxiety or nervousness I had quickly dissipated as I woke up to the sounds of the jungle and headed out on my first, of many, activities.
Volunteering on a Conservation project
As we met at the hammocks before activities on my first day I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and looking back on it now, I know that there is no way someone could have explained to me what it is like to volunteer at Taricaya. Whether we were trekking for five hours through the jungle to find released spider monkeys, bird banding, camping on a beach to look for turtle eggs, building a cage for an incoming bear, or even cleaning pools, I was so happy to be taking part in the projects at Taricaya. There is no better feeling than knowing that the work you are doing is making a difference.
At the end of each day, I was able to reflect on the activities I had done and know that the hard work was well worth it and were forwarding the conservation of the rainforest. I will never forget the countless hours I spent with other volunteers and staff hammering poles into the ground, sewing nets and clearing the ground with machetes in order to build new cages for animals in need, the night walks through the jungle during Bat Project in order to learn the patterns and populations of bats in the area, or the noise your rain boots make when you step into Tao the tapir’s pool to clean it. Nor would I want to forget, because each of these memories I now have bring me back to a place like no other and remind me of people and animals that I love and miss.
Working in the rainforest
The amazing animals I got to meet while volunteering at Taricaya will stay with me forever. I would never have imagined that I could miss being nudged by a tapir as I cleaned out his pool, getting my hair pulled by a spider monkey while trying to replace their food, or being hissed at by an ocelot while enriching her cage, but now that I’m back, these are the things I miss the most.
I miss the people as much as I miss the animals. From all over the world and from diverse backgrounds and walks of life, the people I met at Taricaya made my experience what it was. There is nothing quite like uniting with so many different people to work towards a common goal and at Taricaya, that is exactly what you will do. I made friends quickly with the other volunteers and staff and learned so much about so many different places around the world. The staff is so knowledgeable and taught me so much about insects, bats, birds, monkeys, trees and so much more. Whether we were working, eating, or relaxing in Puerto Maldonado or at Amazon Planet, the people is what make my memories so great.
The hardest part about going to Taricaya was leaving. After just one short month, I had to pack my bags and board the boat to town one last time. Although I was upset to leave, my time at Taricaya has started me on an exciting path for the rest of my life. I have a solidified love of the rainforest and conservation as well as travel and I know that my time at Taricaya will have a strong influence on the choices I make for my future. I will always consider Taricaya like a home and am hoping to make it back there someday, but until then I will just have to remember nadie te quita lo vivido.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.