November 12, 2009

Vet Report: Highs, Lows & Pink Dolphins

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Dateline:  October 31, 2009
Author:  Debbie Baird
Locale:  Caballo Cocha, Peru

Today we leave Caballo Cocha after one week.  We pull away from the river bank, fully loaded with the team, the supplies and a dog, Fluffy, who adopted us the minute we arrived.  Fluffy is going to live at the CARES shelter in Cabo Lopez.  Another dog, who clearly decided Fluffy was on to a good thing, watched the boat drift from the shore, deciding whether or not to try to jump in and join us.  He ended up running along the small riverbank as far as he could, watching us go.

We all had quite a traveling experience.  The week saw high highs and low lows.  Caballo Cocha is a great, friendly, social town, where many gather in the town square each evening,  Families set up a table and cook their food while music played.  A brass band even joined in.  It was such a pleasant experience.  At a certain hour, the plaza would empty just as quickly as it had sprung to life!

Every morning at 6 am we were awoken to the dulcit tones of some guy with a loudspeaker,  I'm not sure whether his blurbs were religious or political, but he talked for ages.

We were the only gringo's in town, and as the work was government sponsored, we had many bits of puiblicity, TV and radio interviewers to deal with.  We conducted veterinary clinics at two sites.  The first site was in the science lab of the local school.  Teems of students were herded through by teachers for a ten minute observation amidst the TV cameras!

The second locale was a wood hut with a mud floor and one light bulb and no water except for what we had brought along.  It was far from ideal, but we managed some surgeries and treated many more animals for parasites, fleas, vaccinations, etc.

The children were fascinated with us, and delighted in seeing themselves captured on the screens of our digital cameras.

The only real low was the sickness that plagued most of us.  The heat alone was difficult to contend with, but many also suffered gastrointestinal problems from the food available.  Some of us saw the week out on water and soda biscuits.

Despite these issues, I must end on a positive note.  A lifetime memory for me will be watching the beautiful and rare pink dolphins play in the lagoon as the sun set.  It is a beautiful, magical site that takes place in an idyllic setting.

Photo of Debbie Baird by Carolien Grim

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