On the Wild Road first excursion is now in the past. And the next ones are in the works.
I can honestly say that, with all the anxiety and doubts I had before, it has been a success. For more than one reason.
Let me begin with the people. At first looking at each other with curiosity and suspense, we soon enjoyed most of the experience together, we happily shared the different moments of excitement, tiredness, surprise, relax, and curiosity as buddies who can often also share a good laugh. It doesn't happen very often. It's been a pleasure meeting them all and debate our respective points of view!
The people we met with. Never a disappointment. We learned, we talked, took a lot of picture -surprise!- had dinners together to keep talking. Most importantly we learned from our guys on the ground an incredible amount of experience based on knowledge accumulated over the years. Different perspectives, different scenarios, all extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic activists who are truly dedicated to the cause. Who help, preserve, release when possible, any wild being they come across with.
The land. Gorgeous! Never a moment of "meh"! This was not a surprise though.
And...the animals! OMG, from big cats to raptors, all sadly in danger or saved but not free anymore, except in a few circumstances. The dedication and care they receive is quite amazing. Some sanctuary has more money than others, some groups are more or less active. Everybody shows a tremendous dedication.
We saw a couple of camels! Yeah, not native...just abused. We saw great tigers, 6,000 are in the USA. No kidding. All bought as pets and then "given away" or abused in the horrible zoos along the street or in the even worse circuses. We need education here!
My favorite, the bison, king of the West. The American Mammal.
Wolves, mountain goats, wolf dogs, eagles, wild horses and on and on. Gorgeous and loved.
People must learn that we are all sentient beings with feelings, families, health needs. And that we all suffer when isolated and beaten to teach us how to entertain the "public".
We also visited a couple of lovely farms run like families, providing amazing food to restaurants, looking like a place where you want to spend a long vacation, maybe volunteering.
At Chef Seidel farm that provides fresh food to his restaurants in Denver, Mercantile and Fruition.
|The Living Farm in Paonia, CO. A spontaneous art work.|
Lessons learned: shorter days (everyone was dead tired after 10 hours on the road, including our driver!) but the West is notoriously huge! Then since everybody's taste is different, more freedom when it comes to meals allowing to make personal choices, including not to eat. I must say though that nobody ever said no to a meal. Just regretted eating, but afterwards! And tried to blame it on me!
We were happy to bring some monetary help to everyone, the cost of running a sanctuary is enormous. Most people working on the ground are volunteers, or poorly compensated. And they work in difficult conditions or too far away from home.
I, however, was surprised by so many happy people living away from everything, attending to animals all the time and when not doing that, fixing or cutting or cooking or whatever is needed. And happy, very happy. I can't stop feeling huge admiration for all of them.
I am strongly motivated to bring the message to more people, a message of respect, love, and understanding for those who were on this land before.
I am learning every day about this world of wildlife care, I'm trying to understand what makes some structures better than others, whether operating on the ground or through specific organizations, what can be done to help, what is the future of wildlife in a world looking at exploiting every possible inch of land for personal benefits. The people on the ground and their ideas, their perseverance against all odds (the odds are huge and many!), their smiles and kindness when talking to the animals have taught me that will power and love is (almost) everything one needs.
For a short time it has been like living in a different world where we all stood for the same kind of ideal life, and although in the outside world it is very different, it is that attitude of togetherness and sharing that helps winning the battles, one animal at a time.
Life is complicated, so the same applies to the animal world and to the interaction with us humans. I hope it will get better.
|In the offices of High Country News. A sketch of the building dedicated to the founder, Tom Bell, journalist, educator, rancher, who just left this planet.|