From CJ & Luis
We were up before the birds yesterday getting ready for our return trip to Alicante where we rescued Yame and George. Hugo, (our cameraman), was waiting for us on the street corner by his flat looking rather like he had been hit by a Mac truck! Evidently he had been very much under the weather and still was not feeling himself. It was to be a long day for all of us.
It is a nine hour drive going and returning to Alicante so we were pleased to see that as the sun came up, the day was going to be a good one weather wise. And so it was. The sun just kept climbing higher and higher into the sky. We passed fields and fields of olive trees and plenty of raptors circled high above looking for their morning meal.
We stopped about half way for coffee and to stretch our legs. I love the restaurant/bar stops along the main roads that are scattered everywhere throughout Spain. Always so much noise inside caused by the customers all lined up at the long bar or sitting at tables tucked in here and there wherever there is space. Everyone wants to be heard above everyone else - competing for the spot light and so the level of vocal banter can rise to amazing levels. So typically relaxed as if no one has a care in the world nor any other place to be.
It was beautiful and warm as we arrived to Alicante. I felt myself getting excited about seeing the sanctuary where we found the Cubs. Yet, I wasn't sure if I was ready to be reminded of where our journey together had begun and if this trip would only remind me of how much I miss them every day.
We pulled up to the gate of the sanctuary. I was so pleased to see that the owner of the sanctuary, Raul Merida, had attached on the large entry gate to the sanctuary, a lovely poster of our very little George hanging along side many other posters of abused and abandoned wild animals that Raul has rescued over the years. While we waited for the gate to open I could hear one of the five lions, (that had made this sanctuary his home), roaring away. Yep, we were arriving at lunch time.
Guardia Civil Seprona was there waiting for us and Raul joined us shortly after. While we were all greeting each other, I had a few hard moments as I could see the installation where the boys had been living and I felt my chest tighten. I drifted away from the conversation at hand and made my way to the installation. I stood in the exact same spot that I had stood when I first saw little CACH and Spain. Those were the names given to them just a few days after their rescue by Bev. This time, instead of two frightfully undernourished, terribly dirty, hollow eyed lion cubs looking up at me, there stood a quite curious coyote, also looking up at me, that I'm sure was hoping that I was going to serve lunch.
I took a little time to wander around the facility. The room where the Cubs were put to bed each night looked so small and it seemed impossible that they had actually been there. In fact, it just seemed impossible that this rescue had even happened at all. Was it a dream? I remembered how they had been in such a hurry to get out of that room. Maybe memories of too many other nights spent in dark, closed spaces - hungry and scared. That for sure wasn't a dream!
We eventually got on with the reason we had all come together again. We had our script prepared, Hugo had his camera rolling, and Seprona and Raul were ready to begin filming. Everything went well; a few retakes were needed here and there and we had several good laughs about pronunciations of certain words in English and accents. It felt good to laugh with these kind, caring, dedicated people who were fast becoming our friends. I needed to laugh and to be reminded that we had come together as a team to save two amazing little lion cubs whose lives would change forever and hopefully, change the minds and hearts of people everywhere as well.
We also wanted to have a look at Terra Mitica before heading home. However the park is only open right now on week-ends. Seprona said that they will be doing periodic checks on the park, especially when the park hours get back to normal.
So, we would be very surprised if this amusement park allows more exploitation of any kind of wild animals again.
Before heading back to Madrid, we all had lunch together. We had our questions for Seprona about the wicked woman who had almost caused the death of Yame and George. Where was she now and what had become of the case against her? She evidently had been renting a place in the city for quite some time. Shortly after depositing the Cubs with Seprona/Raul Merida, because she wanted rid of them, she was served papers from Customs for smuggling and served papers as well from The Department of Agriculture - The Community of Valencia for not having proof of proper permits. The evil woman, (who had been renting), had bolted town. What else would we expect? However these charges against this woman are still pending and they will continue their search for her. Let's hope they get lucky. Seprona has a very good track record for getting their man or woman in this case? One thing we know for sure, we are getting closer and closer to catching these kind people and making it more and more difficult for them to successfully operate.
It was a good day in the end for all of us. There was a sense that as long as we worked hard together we could make a big dent as a team and we need to build these teams world wide. No room for egos in this business.
I silently wept inside on the way home for all of those lost little lions who spend whatever time is given to them being insignificant money gatherers with no value to those who harm them and profit from them. I feel so very proud to be such a small part of this fight to help make up for that disregard for their rights to live free and ashamed as well that far too many of us have no regard for their rights what-so-ever.
Love you Yame and George