The morning I arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia I was told that a strike had just started and that there was no way for me to leave the city. Several truck drivers were protesting against the poor conditions of the roads and had therefore blocked off the main ways out of the city.

Earlier this year similar protests had taken place and the government had promised to rebuild these roads. The promises were not kept, and the people were forced to act again.

Blue macaw couple spotted in Santa Cruz.

I was therefore stuck in this city for an indefinite amount of days. The strike could last a few hours, days, or even weeks. Rather than sit and wait at my hostel, I decided to visit different parks and animal sanctuaries around the city. Most of the animals lived in poor conditions, being locked up in cages to entertain humans. Everyday I would go to the bus station hoping that the blockades would be finished, and everyday I was disappointed.

After being stuck for five days in Santa Cruz, the government finally came to an agreement with the protesters and the roads were now open. I was excited to finally be able to go the park, but was also slightly nervous as I didn’t really know what to expect. This was the third time I was volunteering in a nature reserve in South America, and both previous projects had been very different. The simplicity of life in the jungle and the work with the animals fascinated me. A long bus ride and then an hour taxi drive brought me to the entrance of Ambue Ari, my home for the next four weeks.