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Escapades of Cabuya

Author: Kristi

All of the volunteers of Rainsong Sanctuary decided to take the day off and head to Isla Tortuga. We had been drinking the night before so the boat ride to the island was horrendous. Once we got to shore we fled from the boat to the solid refuge of the beach. After we lounged around, tanned and frolicked in the water for a bit it was lunch time. ZumaTours made an amazing feast, some had tuna and others had chicken, served with potatoes and a light salad. It tasted amazing, we also had fresh fruit to finish. After lunch I was out baking under the sun when Sonya was about to run by, but she suddenly stopped at my feet, grabbed them and began to drag me to the water by my ankles. Everyone on the beach stopped to stare at the poor girl getting dragged to the water. Sonya pulled and pulled; she fell at one point but finally got me the water’s edge. I then jumped up, ran after and tackled her into the ocean. All in all it was a great day not spent at Rainsong.


The next day Claudia and I took up an offer made by some local friends to learn how to surf. We searched for the perfect location to learn, but the waves were just so big! Claudia and I dreaded getting out of the truck every time we stopped at a beach with waves that looked like they would kill us. We finally found a spot where the waves looked good enough for learners. Rafa took me out first, unfortunately by this time the waves were too small for surfing. We sat in the water with me trying to just balance on the board on my tummy.. this was a difficult task for me.. laugh if you wish. Then when it was time to come in and switch, a huge wave came and knocked me over into the sand. I could have built a sand castle with all the sand that wound up in my bikini. I was NOT impressed. Poor Claudia had a short turn in the water before we decided to head in.


The following day at Rainsong was a difficult. One of the baby raccoons, Bandido, was quite ill. She was just lying in his cage and lost his over-active personality. The owner of Rainsong, Mary, called the vet and asked what to give him. The vet suggested a medication that Mary happened to have in the fridge, unfortunately it had dried out. Mary had the GENIOUS idea of adding water to the dried up medication and it turned the medication to a paste. One of the other volunteers, Laura and myself just looked at each other in shock that Mary thought this would be a good plan. There is no disagreeing with Mary regrettably. We took the medication in a syringe and got Bandido to drink it. It was so thick she had a difficult time getting it down. We took her down to the “rancho” (food prep area) and discussed how brainless Mary was for what had just happened. All of a sudden Bandido started screaming. It was the most unnerving thing I have ever heard. Laura put Bandido on the ground thinking she had done something to hurt her. SHE continued to scream with her paws straight out in front of her. We rushed up to Mary’s room and asked her what we could do to help her. She was gasping for air. Mary quickly called the vet so she could hear the sounds of her screams. But by the time she got through, Bandido had already gasped her last breath. She died in Laura’s arms. I started to cry immediately and walked out of the room. I took the bullet and walked up to break the news to the rest of the volunteers up at the farm. Everyone was devastated that one of the most loved animals had passed away.



While I was making dinner one night I saw a pair of eyes glowing in the darkness of the night. Slightly worried I called one of the other volunteers down to the kitchen to investigate with me.  It was a strange creature that had lurked in the dark a few nights before, a tepizcuintle, who had returned this evening. One of the other volunteers had named this creature Inspector Squinty (long story). A tepizcuintle is the largest rodent in central America.
Later that night one of the volunteers was going to bed long after I had and saw something strange happen. I got up out of my hammock and just stood there. She asked me what I was doing and I then realized I was sleep walking. So I crawled back into my hammock and went back to sleep, I think I may have freaked the other volunteer out a bit!

The next night we all decided to stay in and watch a movie on my laptop. The laptop died at the perfect moment, because once we turned the light on there were ants swarming around our feet. I was the first to notice and I yelped out. Everyone jumped up on to the picnic table and just stared in awe of how many millions of little ants were all around us. A huge swarm had engulfed Jackie’s backpack that was sitting on a decrepit couch we all avoid sitting on (maybe for this very reason).  We took lots of pictures til they moved on and we decided to call it a night.
I was dreaming about the ant encounter and started sleep walking again. I hopped out of my bed with a loud scream and was in distress because I could not find a flashlight. In a fit of anger I tossed everything off my bedside table searching for my light. Also I did not want to move my feet because I was certain there were ants crawling everywhere. In the middle of this fit I realized that I was sleep walking and got back into bed.

The next night, it was storming and raining outside so we stayed in again. We had now figured out that the ants do not like light, therefore we kept the lights on while watching a movie. There was no “natural” excitement in the night, so Jackie found a way to amuse us all. She tied a fishing line to Kristi’s hammock and after all the lights were turned off she gave the line a tug. Kristi screamed and thought something was attacking her foot. She didn’t notice the line so we were able to do this a few more times before she figured it out. We all had a good laugh.

As the creatures of the night do not like rain, they seek shelter in our room. Poor Melanie woke up at 2am to find her bed and herself covered in ants. When she woke up in disgust she awoke Sonya, sleeping next to her. Sonya herself found a large quantity of ants covering her bed as well. Oddly enough, this is the one night I slept soundly through the commotion.

That morning we all woke up to the sound of Sonya’s shriek. She had been stung by a scorpion that had made a home her pant leg. She was brave and didn’t cry, but you could tell she was in a lot of pain. We all rushed to her aid and got her a cold compress and elevated her leg. The pain subsided after an hour or so but it was still quite tender for the rest of the day.

Rainsong is a wildlife sanctuary on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica in a small town in Cabuya. They take in injured and abandoned wildlife with the hope of releasing them back into the wild. Volunteers spend many hours each day caring for the wildlife in the rescue center and help to build more animal habitats for the hospital and breeding areas. I really wanted to work with animals so I decided to come here to help out.
The accommodation is very basic and rustic. There is at the moment two beds with a thin mattress, various other mattresses on the floor and a hammock. The walls are simple to say the least, they go up about a quarter of the way then the rest is covered by sheets of tarp. The stairs leading up to the room are varied in sized and quite difficult to go up and down. The gate at the bottom is made for those who are quite slender and it wouldn’t surprise me if some people may have to go through sideways just to fit through. As of right now the gate is being “locked” by a piece of string to keep the goats, pizotes, and Señor Piggy out.
Now for the kitchen, it has a gas stove with three burners, and you must pay extra for any gas you use. The fridge leaks water all over the floor and the interior. That being said, you want to keep your food outside in the other fridge that is not being used as a fridge but as a dry cupboard. Other than that the kitchen is very basic, there is no oven, though there is not much you need an oven for.

The toilet is located a bit of a walk away from the kitchen and is awfully dark at night. I personally have seen worse toilets but the other people staying here are quite horrified by the likes of it. It’s outhouse-ish but with a flushing toilet. The door is merely a sheet draped in front. The toilet is also home to many strange and interesting spiders. Be warned.
The shower is quite nice in my eyes. It’s a bit further up than the toilet and is three walls with a shower head in the middle. There is no roof and you stand on a small plank of wood under the shower head. It’s surrounded by quite a bit of trees and bushes. There has been a few mornings where I’ll be showering, then all of a sudden leaves will start falling on me and I look up and there is a group of white faced monkeys playing in the tree right above me.