17.06.2008 - 18.06.2008 28 °C
We didn't know what to expect at this old Venezuelan cattle ranch that has converted into a tourist ranch. We were given printouts about how Chávez is trying to give some of the land back to the people, so he is taking land from the rich ranch owners and giving it to the poor, like a fatter Robin Hood. Some ranch owners have decided to build these tourist lodges as an alternative source of income, and they are luxurious and cheap. This ranch has a swimming pool and our hut was spacious. The grounds are full of ripe mango trees which are feasted on by about 100 guinea pigs, iguanas (bloody iguanas), tortoises, Dee and, the star of the ranch, a beautiful scarlet macaw that parades around demanding attention from everyone. The macaw is like a high maintenance child, attacking peoples feet and lifting its leg up so people can pick it up while it gnaws their arm. I got a nice scratch from that parrot to match my iguana bite from a few days before. For some reason the parrot took a liking to Dee and decided to play the hero by attacking the feet of anyone who went near her, especially me. He had me running around the ground like a madman, trying to stop him pecking my toes off. There was also toucans, caimans, tortoises, monkeys and an owl which were all in cages too small for comfort around the ranch.
The monkey cage was kept out of the way in another field, which I had to go and see. Sadly, the capuchin monkeys looked bored in their small cage and were desperate for attention. I gave them a mango and a rotting stick from the ground which they tore apart enthusiastically, looking for insects to eat.
We spent most of the 2 days playing with the animals (except those damn iguanas), and playing no-holes-barred polo in the swimming pool, while Tamar spent most of the time at the hospital with poor Malcolm, sorting out his treatment.