Saving The Iguanas Verdes
Before the yoga teacher training in February started, I got the opportunity to stay at the Yoga Rancho, with the Nicaragua staff. To be honest, my boyfriend and I planned to become a volunteer at a hostel in El Transito, but when we arrived here on the 15th of December, we got to hear that the hostel was closed for at least a month, due to an armed robbery that took place at the hostel just 2 weeks before.
Not feeling too comfortable to stay in El Transito, me and my boyfriend started sending mails to every hostel that was close to the ocean. Unfortunately, non of them where having the space to let us stay on such a sort notice. Feeling sad and a bit hopeless, I send a mail to Edwin and Catarina, informing them about the situation I was facing. I had planned to stay in Nicaragua until February when the yoga teacher training started but now we had nowhere to stay.
Catarina and Edwin asked us to come over to the yoga rancho and stay there, getting taking care of by the staff; Dona Evangelina and Don Miguel, while at the main time helping them with building the Iguana Sanctuary. Rescuing endangered species like the Iguana Verde is part of the SEVA work, or Karma Yoga, made by Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua in Ostional. As a yoga student in the teacher training you get to participate in different projects to practice yoga off the mat, a way of practicing yoga by giving your services to humanity without expectation of rewards. This in turn will lead to mental and spiritual purification.
When we arrived there already was a small iguana sanctuary in place, however, now one of the iguanas became pregnant and the iguana sanctuary needed to be expanded. For iguanas, it is important to remove the babies from the adults and hence, a second habitation was needed to dislocate the baby iguanas from the adults.
We were very relieved to receive this offer, and headed towards El Ostional. With a little bit of a slow start due to the Navidades in regards to the work, but with a very warm welcome, we spend our first days at the rancho. After Navidad, we started the search for the materials for the iguana sanctuary, which is not the easiest without own transportation. Fortunately, Dona Evangelina helped us out, and came back to the Yoga Rancho with the materials we could not find.
Earlier, at the finca, we started bringing small stones and sand from the riverside, up the hill to the existing iguana sanctuary. It appears to be the best material for them to lay their eggs, and because one of the iguanas was very close to delivery, it seemed like the right start. Later, we started digging wholes in the ground, so that we would be able to put the materials deep enough to keep the iguanas from escaping. I joined Don Miguel, his brother and my boyfriend with the digging, and received my new reputation as a “strong lady” and my boyfriend his, as ” El Tractor”. Because of the sun, it was only possible to work in the mornings. Normally, at 5 in the morning, Don Miguel would start the walk to the finca, where the iguanas are located. We would join him after our breakfast typica; rice, beans and eggs. Sometimes, we would stay at the finca until the afternoon, playing baseball with the kids Octavio and Karla, helping out with the beans, or chatting with the Don Miguel and his brother and the wife of his brother, Dona Anna. When we were lucky, Dona Anna would cook at the finca and show us how to cook Nicaraguan food, here we learned how to make proper Tortillas.
After the digging was done, the hardest part of the job was done. From here on, we had to only replace some of the wooden poles to set up a good foundation. After that, we placed the tin plates in between the wooden foundation to close of the construction. The plates are used because the iguanas have some really sharp claws on their tiny legs, and can easily climb up other materials. The last phase would only take one good morning of work, we got up at 5 in the morning and walked with Don Miguel to the finca. Along the road, he showed us all the useful plants, and told us adventures stories about his life in the mountains.
Dona Anna made us breakfast, with the fresh beans of the finca. After we all finished our breakfast, the four of us started to put in the tin plates and securing them here. After 4 hours of work, the iguana sanctuary was finally done!
By this time, the pregnant iguana still did not deliver her eggs yet, and hence, we have not seen the iguana babies enjoying the new place. However, it was good to know that we were on time. Moreover, during the time we stayed at the Yoga rancho, my boyfriend and I felt so happy and taken care of by Don Miguel and Dona Evangelina. They are amazing people and made us feel very at home, especially being far away from family during the christmas days.
We would like to thank Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua for taking care of us and for making it possible for me to in the end, still do my yoga teacher training with Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua in February.