This is Sammy’s first handshake and she heard about it through staff member Lucy, whom she knows back home in Bristol. For years Lucy had been telling stories and anecdotes from her time on various Handshake trips and talking of the projects that she has visited and the species that are in danger. Lucy’s enthusiasm caught on and Sammy wanted to find out more about these projects, and about Africa, for herself and so signed up to the Cameroon trip!
Being a physiotherapist back home, it is quite different to her normal daily life, but travelling itself isn’t unknown to Sammy; she has ventured to Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and New York before but this is her first trip on African soil. Her first impressions of Cameroon is that it is unlike anywhere else she has been, as we are staying in ‘pure jungle’ with sounds and smells you can only experience in the heart of it. When first driving up the muddy, uneven, 5km path from the main road to Ape Action Africa the journey didn’t quite agree with her and attempted to find the French word for ‘vomit’ to explain to the driver that she was feeling slightly queazy…with various hand gestures and a cracking French accent I think she got the point across in the end, and the driver found it quite hilarious!
Having walked into several spider webs already, Sammy is most fearing walking into one with great big spider in the middle! The lack of a shower and constant battle with dirty feet will ale a while to get used to But seeing and studying the animal behaviours and spending some proper, quality time around them, outside of a zoo, is what will make this trip a totally unique and enjoyable experience. Sammy also has a vested interest in people and communication, so integrating with the local communities and finding out about a day in the life of a Cameroonian is what she hopes to learn from her time here.
Next year, Sammy is embarking on year long round the world trip and is hoping to visit various animal sanctuaries along the way to learn even more about wildlife conservation and help out wherever she can – so the Primate Handshake is already having a lasting effect on Sammy like it has on so many of their volunteers. And if the primates have any niggling muscular injuries, they now have their own private physiotherapist to call upon who would be more than to help out!