IT’S not every day that you meet a one-eyed monkey called Chico in one of the most amazing places on earth.
But that’s what happened when art student Eilidh Morris swapped Kirkintilloch for the Amazon Rainforest in Peru.
The life-changing experience was the first time the 20-year-old had been away so far without her family. She spent just under two months in Peru in June and July.
Eilidh, from Kirkintilloch, had always wanted to go to the South American country and with a passion for nature and an interest in animals it was the perfect opportunity.
Planting trees to tackle de-forestation and looking after animals in a rescue centre were just two of the tasks Eilidh got involved with.
She also helped with plant and tree monitoring, ventured into the jungle, and became friends with a monkey with a missing eye called Chico.
Despite living in basic accommodation, including sharing a dorm with other volunteers and having no electricity and hot water, Eilidh loved the experience.
The former Lenzie Academy pupil said: “I had a fantastic time and met some amazing people. I grew really attached to Chico, I always held and cuddled him.
“I was given the nickname Pajarillo by the other volunteers, because they thought I was very shy and quite inquisitive. It means ‘Little Bird’.
“One of my favourite birds was an oropendolas. It’s a brown bird with yellow wings and its call sounded like a video game.”
The amazing experience also opened Eilidh’s eyes to the ongoing threat to the Amazonian rainforest.
She said: “People are abusing the resources. Big food companies are cutting down trees to create grazing land for animals, and many native tribes have been kicked off their land to make way for a dam.
“We planted palm trees, which are good for monkeys, and cleared the bamboo which grows over areas.”
Eilidh’s visit to Peru wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Machu Picchu, a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site.
The fourth-year University of Dundee student hopes to return to Peru at some point in the future. She is also keen to visit a rainforest in India, after winning flight tickets to Delhi in a competition.