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Volunteer Voice: A small town gal in the scary ol’ jungle

By 5 years ago
Categories Jalova
-Written by Heidi, One month Volunteer


I’m Heidi, a one month volunteer here at GVI Jalova, and I am petrified of snakes (they don’t have legs) and spiders and big bugs (they have far too many legs). The thought of leaving my relatively bug and snake free home in central-south coast England and coming out here was daunting at best but for you fellow arachnophobes out there, I am here to tell you how wonderful the jungle actually is.


Jalova base enjoying a glorious sunny day
Sure, I have shared a shower with a wandering spider (many thanks to the staff – David and Frank – who rescued me!) and cried when coming face to face a bright yellow eyelash palm pitviper walking through the jungle, but everything else you see here outweighs the slightly hairy moments.
A juvenile Green Iguana making use of our homemade seating area

Within my first week I saw a sloth making it’s way through the canopy, an event so rare some staff are jealous as they’ve not yet witnessed it! I’ve had the good fortune to see all three of the monkey species that reside here, we have even had the privilege of white throated capuchins visit us on base. I have seen both crocodiles and caiman – luckily both at a distance! Lizards are plentiful which is good news to a lizard lover such as myself. I’ve seen juvenile and adult green iguanas, striped basilisks, and anoles a plenty just to name a few. The birds here are also amazing with spectacular colours you can’t even dream of in the UK – though I am yet to see a Keel-billed Toucan still! Turtles come up to the beach every night and with a program that lets you get right up and close with them, it’s hard not to be in awe of them.

Jag prints found on the beach not far from Jalova base

But for me, what makes this project is the jaguars. You can’t expect to see them for you almost definitely won’t, but walking along next to the tracks of the third largest big cat in the world; following the footprints of one of the most trained hunters in the world; gathering data for the latest, most cutting edge jaguar research: that’s what makes swapping safe south coast England for Jalova, Costa Rica for a month so worth it. Even if all the beasties live here! I will definitely miss it when I leave next weekend!