Cutting a long story short, after over a year of saving up, a couple of friends and I arrived in Costa Rica to volunteer at an animal sanctuary. To give a quick indication of the nature of the next three weeks, almost immediately one of the members of our group began copiously vomiting.
Once the vomiting was finally under control, we could get stuck into caring for the animals. Eager to make an effort, I volunteered to bottle feed some newly born possums who had been abandoned by their mother.
The next thing I knew, my name had been added onto a rota for 2am that morning, and it appeared that I was going to be bottle feeding them throughout the night. Deciding that refusing to wake up at 2am would give the impression that I hated the work, I concluded that I would have to follow through with my obligation.
The possums were only about the length of my little finger, and it was very much stressed that if we cut any corners or rushed feeding them, they would die.
Massively sleep deprived but also with possible animal deaths on my conscience, I spent at least an hour carefully feeding random possums in the middle of the night every night for the next five days. To give more context to the story, because they were so premature, every night at least one of the possums would die. The prospect of sifting through multiple possum corpses was an interesting one to consider when setting your alarm for 2am.
Upon reflection, whilst I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to travel across the world, this was not what I visualised when I considered the summer after my A levels. If anything, I expected much more sleeping, and much less death.