LITTLE VALLEY: ZOLA FINDLAY

Our young residents reflect on the home they’re growing up in.

 
 

Why travel makes us love home.

The very first thing she told us was that the monkey didn’t like kids. Of course, my sister and I didn’t believe her. 

We were in Colombia, staying at a hostel with our parents in the rainforest of the Santa Marta mountains. We decided to visit a nearby wildlife reserve where there were all kinds of animals: peacocks, fish, butterflies, scarlet macaws, wild boars, caimans, and turtles. 

Before we even went in, we saw a strange-looking cotton-top tamarin, a rare monkey found only in northern Colombia. It was perched on the shoulder of the woman who greeted us and was so small it could sit on your hand. The monkey was interested in our mom, so it hopped onto her shoulder right away. My sister and I laughed and thought it was cool.

We paid the fee and entered the reserve to see the other animals. We looked behind us and the little monkey was following. We stopped. We had been warned about the monkey, but it was so fluffy and cute that I crouched down anyway to check it out. The little animal suddenly nipped at my hand. It continued to follow us and then, just as suddenly, it bit the back of my sister Sabine’s leg.

At first, we didn’t think much about it. The bite just felt like a pinch, so we kept walking around the reserve. But later when we got back to the hostel, our mom and dad told a few other people about the monkey. Then they started talking about rabies and getting a shot. That’s when we began to get scared and freaked out. 

We went to the doctor in Santa Marta, where we had some trouble communicating because our Spanish wasn’t good. But the doctor was kind, and a friendly taxi driver who could speak both languages helped us. 

The rabies shot hurt way more than the monkey bite.

Our whole family loves to travel, explore new places, people, and cultures, and learn about unusual plants and animals. Sometimes when we travel, it can be challenging and even scary. Getting a rabies shot in Colombia was one of those times. 

The experience made us appreciate where we live, and so too has the coronavirus. We have learned that travel isn’t always about leaving home and going on a plane; staying at home is also like travel. We are raising chickens and growing an herb garden. My sister and I have been exploring our backyard, building trails and forts, and riding our bikes. There is a whole other world behind our house full of animals and plants such as skunk cabbage and huge cottonwood trees. Luckily, there are no cotton-top tamarins living in our forest.

But I guess not many people can say they have been bitten by an endangered species.

 
WORDS BY ZOLA FINDLAY, AGE 10, WITH HELP FROM HER SISTER SABINE, AGE 7