Friday, November 23, 2012

Monkeying Around on my Last Day in Granada

No that's not Spiderman, that's me, zipping through the treetops

I may not be able to swing through the trees like a monkey, but a ride on a zipline through the jungle isn't too bad either.  Not a bad way to spend my last day in Granada.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen - Dr. Sarah Geitz and World Vets, Kim Little and Rescue 3, and of course Lucrezia Cuen Paxson and the rest of the Murrow School at WSU - I had a wonderful time and will be ready to go save some animals the next time a disaster strikes.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving in Granada

As it is Thanksgiving (at least back home), I’ve been thinking about what I’m thankful for today.  While I’m enjoying Nicaragua, I’m thankful that I’ll be going home soon.  I miss my friends and family, and I’m a bit sad I’m missing spending the holiday with them.

Dr. Seitz demonstrates proper prep techniques before surgery

I’m also thankful for our wonderful host here in Granada.  Dr. Sarah Seitz has done a wonderful job of making us feel at home here, providing us with meals and opportunities to see the city and surrounding area.

Dr. Seitz been with World Vets now since January and is heading the establishment of the new veterinarian teaching hospital here in Granada.  Despite the complications of coordinating the construction of the facility, stocking it with the necessary supplies and equipment, putting together the training programs for vets from both the U.S. and Central America and performing regular services to the pets and animals in the city, Dr. Seitz still managed to find time to take care of us here for the Technical Animal Rescue course this week.  I’m not sure when or how she has time to sleep, but I’m thankful that the program here is in such obviously capable hands. 

Despite his name, Killer is really just a big pussycat -
probably even more so now that he’s been neutered
I’m thankful that the three surgeries that she led at the new clinic went well today.  The dogs brought in this morning to be sterilized were all healthy and happy as they were returned their respective homes.

And finally, I'm thankful that I'll be missing Black Friday.  As disappointed as I am that I'm missing a turkey dinner today, I have zero desire to deal with that crazy mess.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Previous Patients

World Vets is clearly doing their job here in Granada. The streets here are strewn here with stray dogs, begging at tables and scrounging through garbage for food. We are planning on doing neuters and spays tomorrow at the clinic that World Vets has opened up in town, but we had a little trouble when we went out to find dogs.

Strays who have already been sterilized by World Vets are marked with a
tattoo near the incision site so it’s easy to tell they’ve been a patient before
Typically it takes no time at all to locate a few viable candidates, but tonight it seemed that every one we found, it had already been to the clinic. The few that hadn’t already been spayed or neutered had owners who weren’t interested in sterilization. After two hours of driving around and talking with locals, we finally decided to wait until morning to try again.

We have one pup back at the hacienda Merced. Bobby is our training dog. I'm not sure kind he is. Which breed is the one that’s stuffed with foam?
He's definitely seen better days, but he's still staying together well enough for our purposes - floating long enough for us to get out to him and pull him back into shore, and sitting still while we practice putting harnesses on him and tying him to a stretcher.

Scruffing the back of Bobby's neck serves a two-fold purpose - it's
proper technique for a rescue, and it helps keep Bobby's stuffing in
He only knows one trick, though. Stay Bobby. Stay.
At our trip to Laguna de Apoyo today Kansas State vet student Laura Schurr took to the water to save Bobby during our water training. She decided to come to the Technical Animal Rescue school after watching the disaster in Haiti and wishing there had been
something she could do. Now she's learning
techniques that she hopes she can one day apply when the next inevitable disaster strikes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Time and Temperature in Nicaragua

Late afternoon at Casa Merced
I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s so weird that it starts getting dark at around five here.  It shouldn’t be all that strange since where I’m normally at in November it’s already good and dark by this point in the day.  I realized today it’s because of the heat.  In the summer in the Pacific Northwest, it doesn’t get dark until after eight or nine in the evening, but here it’s warm year round (just slightly less so during the winter).  My body says that when it’s warm out, the sun should be out until late at night.  Nicaragua laughs at my body’s confusion.

Despite that, I’m really starting to take to things here.  This country seems to exist outside of time.  When people say nine o’clock, they may mean nine, or they may mean nine-thirty.  To many, I understand, this is very frustrating.  For me personally, however, having always had trouble with time and the relativity of it, it really kind of makes sense. 

Working on boating skills at Laguna de Apoyo
We went to the Laguna de Apoyo today to work on some rope and boat skills – throwing a coiled rope accurately is much harder than it looks on television.  The water was refreshing, but far from cold.  Apoyo is a crater lake warmed by geothermal activity of the nearby volcanos.  There are so many here that even the locals seem to have trouble keeping track of them.  They do make for incredible scenery, though.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Animal Rescue - the Basics

Kim Little is a rescue specialist.  Working out of Billings, Montana, Little is a specialist in the rescue industry with more than 25 years experience, and has worked in disaster situations around the globe.  He began learning the basics as an active outdoorsman growing up in the Pacific Northwest, and now uses the expertise he’s learned from years of whitewater rafting, rock climbing and boating in teaching others how to safely and effectively extract both people and animals from dangerous conditions. 

Rescue specialist Kim Little teaches the class some basic knots
Little is in Nicaragua this month to head the Technical Animal Rescue (TAR) aspect of the World Vets Program.  He teaches students hands-on technical skills necessary in performing rescues in disaster situations, including water and boating rescues, and high and low-angle rope rescues.

These are animal rescue skills that Little has developed and reformed over his years in the field, from rescuing animals from trees and under houses, to serious disaster situations like Hurricane Katrina.  Little has been all around the world practicing his trade, and now brings that wealth of experience to training others.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Monkey Island to Santiago Volcano

Granada kind of reminds me of the French Quarter, an old haunt of mine in New Orleans.  Narrow streets, where the buildings flow into each other, so you can't tell where one begins and another ends, old cathedrals looming over benches with people sleeping on them or hanging out in doorways, even glass glued to the tops of walls to keep people from climbing over.  Then again, New Orleans doesn't have nearly as many stray horses.

Hanging out with Manchito on Monkey Island
The day started with a tour of the area, including a boat ride through the islets of Lake Nicaragua.  Then a quick lunch before we headed off to the Masaya Mercado.

Masaya was in full effect.  Located north of Granada, the town is well known for its market.  It is currently, however, in full swing for a month-long fiesta celebrating the combined faiths of the indigenous populous.  People packed the streets as bands played traditional songs, performers danced in costume and  all had a good time.  The highlight for me - the guy in the baby outfit pretending he couldn't hit the pinata.

The day ended with a tour of Masaya Volcano.  From the top is a magnificent view from Managua to Granada, as well as a look down the throat of an active volcano, spewing forth sulfurous smoke.  The volcano tour also included a spelunking trip down into a traditional ceremonial cave where the sacrifices were chosen to appease the angry gods of the volcanos.  The gods were, thankfully, quiet tonight - we all made it out okay.

Sunset over Santiago Volcano in Masaya

Saturday, November 17, 2012

El Primer Dia

After spending a day wandering around Managua, I already find myself starting every conversation by thinking first about how to manage to communicate what I’m trying to say in my bastardized Spanglish. 

The crumbling façade of the Antigua Catedral is magnificent, though you can’t approach it.  This beautiful cathedral, located in the abandoned Plaza de la Revolucion, was once the bustling center of Nicaragua’s capital.  Destroyed during an earthquake in 1972, it now stands empty, a poignant symbol of the city’s past.

In order to get out of the heat (as well as replace the sunscreen and bug spray I foolishly packed in my carry-on) I decided to visit Managua’s numero uno shopping center.  Metrocentral is a bustling, modern mall with dozens of stores, a large food court and a theater.  I thought about going to see Skyfall to kill a few hours before I was set to meet the other members of the World Vets group, but since I can barely keep up with Bond movies when they’re in English, I decided not to waste the money.

Cabs can be found in abundance.  Rides are about as expensive here as they are in U.S., with the notable exception that there are no meters.  The driver will simply tell you how much it is to go somewhere and you can then decide whether to hop in or not.  Speed limits, car lanes and traffic signs seem to be meaningless here.  It makes for an interesting ride.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tools of the Trade

As I grew up on a farm doing lots of odd jobs, I often heard the phrase, "Use the right tool for the right job" (usually in a lecture after getting caught using a wrench as a hammer).  This was what I thought about as I gathered together the vast array of equipment required to produce quality video, audio, web and print pieces from the road.  Not seen here: the camera tripod and insect repellant.  The apples are staying in Pullman.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Proper Preparation

I now have hepatitus A, typhus, tetanus and the flu - it's okay though, that's all part of the process of preparing for my trip. Innoculations, that is. I also have lots of bug spray, flip flops and a swim suit, despite the fact that it's halfway through November and the ground is covered in snow outside my window.

All part of the process for preparing for Nicaragua. The World Vets' Disaster Relief Program in Granada, Nicaragua begins this Saturday. The program includes not only hands-on training in practical, real-world techniques on saving animals, but a carriage ride around historical downtown Granada, a visit to an active Volcano and a trip to the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012