Monkeys, toucans and more monkeys – Oh my! (I just had to) When we were planning our trip to Costa Rica one thing we knew we wanted to do was find a place to volunteer with animals. Through some online research we learned about Proyecto Asis, located just 20 minutes outside of La Fortuna, Proyecto Asis serves as a wild animal rescue refuge, volunteer center and Spanish school – pretty awesome right!? We arrived at 8:15 am, just in time to hear the rooster’s first crow of the day. We joined the small group that was forming and met Alvaro, the Director, for the half-day tour and volunteering. There’s also an option to do the afternoon tour, but especially if you are visiting during the rainy season, we highly recommend the morning tour as it rains most often in the afternoons. Here’s a photo of Alvaro and Michelle, now that’s what we call monkey love. She let me hold her hand too, as long as Alvaro was by her side: Our tour began with learning about some of the local plants and flowers. The photo below shows a cashew fruit, each one of these fruits bears one cashew nut – just one. This may help explain why cashews are one of the most expensive nuts available! Here we have a red passionfruit flower, which is not only stunning but, if you are a hummingbird, it also absolutely delicious! We also learned that most of the wild animals on the property had been rescued from homes where people tried to keep them as pets. Once these “pets” grew into adults, they naturally became too aggressive – they are wild animals! – and so the families no longer wanted them. Perla, for example, a wild Paccary, slept in bed with the children and was fed rice beans, spaghetti and bubble gum: Many of the birds on the property had had their wings clipped by their owners, leaving them unable to fly. Some of them now suffer from anxiety and are constantly pulling out their own feathers as a form of distraction. It made us so sad to see such beautiful animals unable to enjoy life as they were made to. At Proyecto Asis they are committed to nursing these animals back to health and releasing them once their feathers are long enough for them to fly and they are strong enough to survive in their natural habitats: Once our tour was complete, we got ready to volunteer. We prepared pounds and pounds of bananas, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, corn and lettuce for our, I mean the animals’ lunch time 😉 We never knew how much parrots loved bananas! And the monkeys were the most incredible to watch! They ate so fast and were definitely not fans of sharing: Look at this amazing little face: Hercules, the spider monkey pictured below, was all about his greens: After lunch was served, this little monkey pressed her face up against her cage and gave us some of the best monkey faces we had ever seen: “What are you looking at?” “Wasssuuup.” So classic. Needless to say, we had an incredible experience sharing our time with the animals and learning about all the good that Proyecto Asis does for these precious creatures. If you are looking to make a difference and meet some new furry and feathery friends, this is a must do for your Costa Rican adventure!
Be sure to check out our other posts from our time in Costa Rica: Exploring Manuel Antonio, Whitewater Rafting on the Rio Savegre, Celebrating my Birthday with Kayak Jaco, Getting Engaged on Isla Tortuga with Calypso Cruises and Surviving Montezuma’s Revenge and Hiking Cerro Chato from the Arenal Observatory Lodge!