January 31, 2010

Photos! photos! photos!

Pictures from Nicaragua are uploaded!
Find them all here:

January 28, 2010

No Big Whoop

I woke up (well, not really... more like moved my comatose body from a bed to a car) at 4:30 this morning and slept the whole way to the airport. I had a lovely breakfast of Nicaraguan hot chocolate, a donut and a guyaba-filled pastry (good stuff!!). MC also had a guyaba-filled pastry, 2 Coca-Colas, fried chicken and french fries. Ugh. 6:30am in the Manaba International airport. :-x

I am sad to leave Nicaragua and our beautiful little casa on the hill. This was such as awesome week and we definitely worked hard AND played hard. It's funny, I never think of myself as being a New Yorker or having a New York (ahem... 'cuse me... NOO YAHK) accent. But making friends around the world definitely makes it all the more apparent that I am a New Yorker at heart. If only we saw Barbara Streisand, then I could die now! "Excuse me; I have to go die now!" I got a little verklempt at the airport in Miami when it came time to say goodbye, not usually one for tearful airport scenes, but I was definitely a little shpilkis in the genechtagazoink.

I don't need to say it again here cos I already thanked the parties involved for the awesome time and the excellent opportunity to acquire not 1 but 2 MORE monkey bites for my long list of crazy "When Animals Attack" adventures. You all know who you are, and I ♥ you all!

So before I get verklempt again, talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.

When it comes time for the next adventure, give a call. We'll talk. No big whoop. Until then... you shoulda been there... it was like buttah....

January 27, 2010

I ask for so little.... (maybe an elevator??)

After a very restful night of sleep (Lo siento to MC for locking him out of the house last night - but he should have knocked louder ;-) we had a brief breakfast at the corner pastry shop and did a bit of shopping in downtown San Juan del Sur. We met up with Katie at 11 to go sailing.

I have never been sailing before (been on lots of boats, but usually motorized ones) and I was NOT excited to go once I saw the rest of our "crew" - remember my thoughts on ignorant gringos? Welcome aboard the S.S. Obnoxiousness, packed full of drunk, whorish 20-somethings from Canada and Australia.

The ONLY good thing about the trip (from my perspective) was the sea turtle sighting about 30 minutes from port. I think MC enjoyed meeting the Washington state boys en route to India for a pimped out TukTuk race (which I think is a future WV trip in the making??). And KH just enjoyed getting back on dry land (after a few hours of vomiting... poor girl :-( boat sickness sucks)

Thank god the "sunset" tour turned into a 3 hour out-and-back fight with nasty winds, and we were on dry land by 2pm. After regaining our balance on dry land, we went back to Stones & Waves (to check on the monkeys... again... and they were fine... again) and then climbed those god-forsaken steps once again.

Have I mentioned the steps? We are at the best casa in all of Las Piedras y Olas, however, it is about a 15min hike up the winding resort stairs. The whole thing is built into the side of a mountain, which makes for great views, but horrific leg pains. Similar to the 80s classic movie "The Labyrinth" - minus David Bowie in Lycra pants, and substitute spiders and geckos for the traditional muppets. In the 7 days we've been here, I don't think we've gone up or down the same path twice ← no way is the same ↑ just a TON of steps → followed by MORE steps ↓
It might be nice to have a David Bowie sighting instead of a cabana boy??
"I ask for so little... Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave..." Yes David Bowie, whatever you want... God I ♥ that movie ;-) Ok... enough of I ♥ the 80s - back to reality ;-)

We had a great light dinner by the pool then watched the sunset (for the last time :-( sad) over San Juan del Sur from the patio outside the casa. Lots of talk about the fun time had and potential trips for the future. Maybe no more monkeys? I haven't been bit by any reptiles yet... how about a sea turtle adventure?

Wish you were there (wherever it will be!)

Bite Update

Day 4 - turning yellow... is that a bruise? Or jaundice?

January 26, 2010

Playa Madera, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Conquering fears one wave at a time

Last night we went for MUCH NEEDED massages at the hotel spa then dinner on the beach. I wish I had a photo (or even better, a VIDEO!) of this couple at the restaurant. We went back to El Timon for some awesome seafood, and there were 2 gringos "dancing" to the salsa-esque music in the restaurant. I have NEVER seen anything less sexy or as uncomfortable as these 2 people. I'm not a very talented salsa dancer, but I know it's NOT supposed to look like THAT. Downright painful. Mike swore he could see the guy counting "one two three four... one two three four" as he mechanically went through the steps.

After dinner we got ice cream from a little shop down the street and I ran with some beach dogs behind the store. I think that is probably the best pastime ever - beach dogs are a breed in-and-of themselves, and I think if I had to be a dog, I would want to be a beach dog too. Aside from the sand fleas and transmissible venereal tumors, beach dogs have it made. They are skinny, homeless and itchy, but they have so much fun playing in the sand, barking at the waves, chasing coconuts and getting scraps from the beach goers.

Today we went SURFING!! After breaking my back on a surf board in 2005, I have not tried to surf again. Obviously, I don't surf WELL or else I wouldn't have broken my back in the first place. But the waves off Long Island are different than those off the coast of Nicaragua, so I figured a lesson (with a semi-English speaking teacher) couldn't hurt. Surfing (actually, falling and injuring myself while surfing) is one of my top 3 fears (along with primates and jellyfish) I didn't do anything crazy or exciting, but I survived almost an hour in the water and actually got up on the board once! Knowledge is power, and now I know that you don't dive under a wave with a long board ;-)

Muscles I didn't even know I had are screaming for Advil, so it's time for a nap then some dinner :-)

January 25, 2010

keep it in your pants por favor....

Today we finished the last of the surgeries (3 dogs) and did a few consults for a grand total of 48 animals in 3 days!!! Big thanks to Dr. MC, KH, E & H for all their help!

The resident cRaZy monkey lady showed up today with her pet monkey, Cindy. She is a PERFECT example of why wild animals (SPECIFICALLY PRIMATES) should never be kept as pets. The monkey was wearing a diaper and climbing all over the woman and everyone, wrapping its leash around things as it went. She claimed the monkey needed its "vaccines" which was an interesting proposition, since we didn't even have dog vaccines, let alone monkey ones. She had some sort of official looking paperwork that needed to be signed off by a vet, but since we didn't have vaccines, Mike tried to send her on her way. She insisted on an Ivermectin injection (which I gave orally, since I'm not getting near any more primates) and a B12 vitamin injection. Why does everyone in Latin America think B12 is the answer to the world's problems? Is it? Is this something we're missing out on in the States? I explained to the woman (or at least tried to) that if the monkey ate a good diet, she wouldn't need any vitamins. I wanted to tell her to forget the vitamins and go get a Rabies vaccine and a muzzle, since the monkey is going to bite someone any day now. Crazy people... Never cease to bewilder me...

This afternoon we went canopy zip-lining in the jungle - very cool!!! 2 Canadian girls were on the tour with us and were somewhat annoying although entertaining as well. For those not familiar with zip-lining, it consists of a harness, leather-like gloves, and a long line strung between 2 trees. You pretty much clip onto the line and zip from tree to tree, enjoying the view along the way. As hot as it was outside, I specifically put on long shorts with the anticipation of some sort of rope/harness thing around my legs. These girls showed up in BIKINIS - which may look semi-attractive, but NOT PRACTICAL for zip lining. Not to mention one of them was lobster-red from sunburning. Since they didn't speak nor understand Spanish, I doubt they picked up on the side comments from the zip-lining guys.

FYI sweetie... they don't think you look cute and are pretty sure you're gonna get a rash from not wearing pants with that harness.

Which brings me to an interesting point: I don't consider myself at all "patriotic" or "Americanized" but I sure as sh*t am mortified to be a young, white, American (gringa) woman when I travel abroad. I saw similar behavior in the Galapagos and even more so in the Dominican Republic, but it was RAMPANT in Nicaragua. Young gringos (mostly American, Canadian and a few Australians) travel to these exotic developing countries and just go buck wild. Like an eternal spring break sort of wild.

But it's not spring break, and these kids (listen to me now... Grandma Adrien ;-) aren't in college, therefore aren't really entitled to a "spring break". I don't know how/where they get the resources to run around the world like that, but regardless, they sure act like asses once they're there.

One of the best parts of traveling (for me) is learning about new cultures: trying new food, subsequently discovering bathrooms along the highway ;-), practicing the language, seeing new sights, enjoying the weather (usually warm), and making friends around the world.

I have never been more embarrassed to be a young gringa woman than I was in Nicaragua. Everywhere we went, young gringas girls were running around half-dressed, beer guts hanging out, sporting painful sunburns, smoking cigarettes, and generally acting trashy. None of them even try to speak Spanish, and the only interactions they have with the local "culture" is via the skeevy sexual encounters with the local guys.

C'mon ladies. Show some self-respect and a little class. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having a good time on vacay, but a semi-public sexual encounter with a homeless beach guy in a developing country is NOT sexy NOR cool. If you don't feel dirty afterward, wait until you get back home and discover you picked up an extra "souvenir" abroad (i.e. herpes). Even the CDC specifically warns about safe-sex when traveling abroad (if you want details, they are here)

Girls like that give ALL gringa girls a bad rap. So if you happen to be reading this (which I doubt, since you're probably getting drunk with some guy named Jose behind the surf shack) PLEASE do us ALL a favor and show some self respect! You do NOT look cool "hooking up" with random dudes on the beach, and you give the local people the impression that all gringas are trashy.

when primates attack....

It should no longer be a question of IF Adrien will get bit... but rather WHEN and HOW MANY TIMES

DAY 1 - Sunday (got bit once in the morning and again at night)

DAY 2 - Monday (bruise update - looks much worse today!)

Courtesy of Veronica, the cranky post-op spider monkey who didn't want her pain meds and Roberto, the crazy male monkey who is no longer the "amor de mi vida" but rather "second reason for large gash on my arm"


January 24, 2010

You can teach a gringa, but you can't teach 'em much....

3 more monkey surgeries today, and an interesting "incident" when I tried to give the spays from Friday (Lucy and Veronica) their morning Tramadol and banana treat. Lucy (who was previously a pet and as such, is much more affectionate than the others) was more than happy to have her narcotic banana, but Veronica flat out attacked me, bit my arm, and held on like it was her job. I managed to throw her off me before she did any real damage, but of course, there were 2 maintenance men there to watch/laugh/offer help to the gringa in the monkey pit.

The rest of the surgeries went very well, and MC pulled off a micro-spay on the baby monkey (Francesca, whose father was apparently Italian, or as the story goes...) And when you put an ER vet and a crazy, ER-trained, high-volume tech together, you get a 14 hour spay-a-thon. Today we did 5 dog spays, 2 dog neuters, 3 cat neuters AND the 3 monkey spays. We finished at about 8:30pm, but will be starting the day off on a clean slate tomorrow, with no surgeries held over.

I obviously didn't learn the monkey lesson of morning, so I went into the monkey pit AGAIN and got mauled AGAIN on the way home from dinner by Roberto. They are just so damn cute you want to cuddle them all. Well, that is a very cunning game on their part. MC was trying to look at Lucy and Veronica's incisions and I tried to give Roberto a banana (I think the bananas are just problematic to begin with). He lured me into the monkey pit and then before I knew it, I had a leg and tail wrapped around my knee and Roberto climbed up me like the mountain of a gringa that I am. No sooner did MC say "Hey, looks like you got a cling-on over there..." then Roberto went psycho-monkey on me and attacked my already bandaged arm. MC screamed in "support" - "DON'T MOVE!" and eventually Roberto jumped off my head and I ran for the wall. AGAIN there was a maintenance man there to witness the chaos. He didn't do too much damage since most of my arm was covered with bandages from this morning's incident. He bit/scratched/clawed at my other arm and left a nice bruise there.

Off to wrap my monkey bites... pictures tomorrow after everyone is done laughing at me ;-)

January 23, 2010

Diagnosis Toe Meat

Today was an interesting day fo sho....

Yesterday (Friday) we spayed 2 monkeys (Lucy & Veronica), practiced anesthesia on another monkey and did a TB test (Roberto), and neutered 2 cats. Today (Saturday) we neutered 3 male dogs, spayed 1 female dog, spayed 4 cats and neutered 2 cats (NOT the one we are trying to catch out side the casa).

A sick dog was brought in with a tumor on his head the size of a baseball. He was very old (8, which is like 1,000 in street dog years) and had bad neurological deficits in his back legs. Yet, the most interesting "case" of the day was the sunburned hippie who wanted the vets to look at his foot wound and tell him if "he should seek medical advice" - seriously? If you think you need to have your foot looked at, and are asking a VET to tell you how bad it is, you probably need to just suck it up and go to the doctor. But I humored the guy (for KH's sake - as she gets to deal with them on a daily basis!) and looked at his foot injury. He proudly told me he just got over a case of staph infections on his leg and then he tripped and hurt his foot. He was wiggling his semi-attached toenail and telling me there was "toe meat" sticking out and he was afraid he would get a "toe meat infection". Wish I had a picture of the pre-infection toe meat trauma ;-) There was a guy on the beach last night who appeared to be the "local podiatrist" - inspecting and applying foot creams to random people on the beach. He would probably treat a toe meat infection for the price of a few cold cervazas, so in my non-medical opinion, he should probably get some Tona (Nica ale) and limp on down to the beach...

Wish I had a picture... you just had to be there ;-)

Pelican Eyes, Spider Monkeys

We arrived at the Pelican Eyes resort in San Juan del Sur late Thursday night - and when I say "resort" I mean RESORT! I am used to sleeping on gym floors, no hot water, blistering heat... you know, the usual. This is a picture from our front door:

Yesterday was the first (unofficial) day of clinic work. We spayed 2 spider monkeys - Lucy and Veronica - and sedated Roberto (the male) to give him a TB test and draw blood. Not a huge fan of primates going into this trip (because of this and also the capuchin monkey that bit me in Ecuador) but these guys seem OK so far. No bites and very manageable when sedated.

Primate venapuncture is a lot easier than I thought but also very unlike anything I've ever done. It felt sort of like putting a catheter in a person - a very small, hairy, thumbless person. I've learned a lot of very cool tricks about primate medicine - like putting very bright, tacky colored nail polish on their fingernails so they would have something to distract them from picking at their surgical incisions. So now I am an official primate manicure aesthetician. You pick color! More pictures of that soon :-)

Our hotel casa is at the VERY top of a very big hill. Lots of steps. I want to venture off into town and see the beach and get some good seafood, but I dread the long walk back. It's the price you pay for the view ;-)

January 21, 2010

Geraldo at Large

Geraldo Rivera sighting at LaGuardia Airport. Is he still famous? I couldn't remember so I didn't bother.

January 20, 2010

Adios NYC

Tomorrow I'm off to Nicaragua with World Vets on a much-needed spay-cation.

Just got a text message from the veterinarian - he's at the airport in Las Vegas (hopefully winning some cash for the Stones & Waves Veterinary Clinic After Party Fund)

So now would be a good time to pack?

January 11, 2010

January 1, 2010

a different sort of New Year celebration

Here's an equation for the New Year:

+ 40 degree F (4.5 degrees C for my metric friends) air temp in Coney Island, NYC
+ 39 degree F Atlantic Ocean water (4 degrees for the metric folk)
+ a few thousand people
- sanity
- dry clothes
* the Coney Island Polar Bear club's Annual Polar Bear Plunge Swim

(scroll down for the answer)


It's not as cold as it looks, I swear!!!! For EC and all the Animal Balance folks who had to suffer through my complaints of no hot showers... this was actually BETTER than the cold showers of Cabrera and San Cristobal!! Which makes me wonder where they get that water for the showers? Is there a glacier in the Galapagos I don't know about?

I've always wanted to try the "polar plunge", so this year seemed like a good enough time as any! I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, so this year, I just plan to keep living life to the fullest and continue to do those crazy things that scare me (like jumping into 40 degree water, retaking the GRE exam, you know... the usual)

More photos can be found in my Picasa albums here

What's next? Hmmmm..... let me think for a sec.... maybe that 10 K swim I've been putting off for all these years?

Now, c'mon!!! Don't you just wish you were there??