Ah! Those mysterious ways of life. I was picturing three months of zero responsibilities at the place where we are volunteering now. But somehow, I have ended up at the opposite end. Or so it feels.
Tomorrow, barely after ten days working at the center, I will be alone in the kitchen, preparing almost 100 meals for some of the animals in the center so that the cook can take a break.
I am so nervous that I have been dreaming about carrots and cucumbers cut in juliana ;-). If you think that is weird, let me tell you that Frank has been dreaming about rats. But that is another story that he will tell himself.
So, this last week I have been going through an intensive course on wild animal dietary requirements. Monkeys (spider, howler, capuchin), sloths, toucans, parrots, parakeets, macaws, peccaries, deer. Not raptors and carnivores (cats), snakes, the croc, nursery, or clinic. Total: nearly 100 dishes for 19 different groups of animals and, of course, with some intolerances and preferences.
And you may be wondering, what is all this fuzz about.
For starters, each species eats different things. For each one, the food needs to be cut and presented in different shapes depending on the size of their hands (monkeys) or the form of their beak (think about a toucan versus a parakeet).
For some, the fruit needs to be peeled. For others, it needs to go with peel and all. Some animals need to eat the veggies boiled, some raw.
Ah! and most animals eat different things in the morning and in the afternoon.
Then some individuals have specific dietary requirements (because they are too fat, or too thin or too delicate). And there are food preferences for each individual. Some hate tomatoes, other love raw onions to brush their fur…
And all food needs to be ready by 0930 in the morning and 1400 in the afternoon. Tick Tack Tick Tack.
It is a great responsibility. And it is terrifying and exciting at the same time.
Somehow, I feel I can do it. I have prepared as if I was to land the Soyuz on Mars. I have made photos of all dishes. I have my notes. And I have been shadowing and assisting the cook for two days. I have prepared small name tags to hang on the dishes as I prepare them to hand them more efficiently to the volunteers distributing the food to the different animals. And I have made a checklist of the 60 tasks to perform.
I have butterflies in the stomach! But what is life without a little challenge now and then?
I promise to report how it went. Let the show begin!!