Rupununi

Where to begin? Adam left for Canada this morning after a night of quasi-debauchery. Good timing, since the toilet no longer flushes, and such a predicament can tolerate at maximum one resident, not two.

Yesterday we took some time to do some shopping and wandered into Stabroek Market, Georgetown’s most central landmark, a place Pierre Trudeau once called, “that bizarre bazaar”. It was for Adam his first real taste of bustling, odoriferous Third World market life, and I was more than a little concerned that someone was going to do him some harm. But all went well. Between the catfish stalls, mountains of exotic fruit, the standard dollar-store variety knick-knacks and second-hand books, we found time to socialize. We met a 60 year old woman who could pass for 40! Man, I love my gene pool 🙂

As Adam stopped to photograph something, I caught an older woman staring at me, then beckoning at me. It was my Aunt Vedo, my father’s youngest sister. Now, you must understand that this woman knew me when I was 2 years old, then saw me again 31 years later for only a few minutes, back when I still had long hair. Despite this minimal exposure, she picked me out of a seething crowd of other brown folk, without knowing that I was even in the country! Of course, now I’m in trouble for not visiting sooner!

Adam and I returned from Rupununi Wednesday afternoon. It’s a region on the Brazilian border, populated mostly by AmerIndian tribes. Its natural beauty is mind-numbing. Indeed, I have been all over the world, including to four jungles and 3 sub-tropical rainforests. This visit was among the –if not the— best. The region features a sprawling, Nevada-style savannah that nudges the foothills of the Pakaraima mountain range. Nestled within those hills is the Iwokrama protected zone, a section of pure, thriving Amazonian rainforest.

We spent one night at a lodge/ranch on the savannah, where we were treated to excellent food and company, long nature walks, and exposure to some of the AmerIndian culture, including the manual harvesting and preparation of cashew nuts and cassava products. The ranch also features many animals, including a tapir, agoutis (cute little cat-sized squirrel things), giant turtles and labos (big-eyed nocturnal rodents, hunted by the Indians for its meat).

Then we spent a day and a night within the Iwokrama rainforest itself. The Canadian government has paid for the construction of a canopy walkway, about 100 feet in the air, strung between the upper branches of the tallest trees in the forest. We went there twice, once in day time, the other before dawn. It’s a terrifying experience (for an acrophobic wimp like me) to walk between trees on an unstable-feeling aluminum rope bridge, especially during a rainstorm. But definitely worth the effort. We spotted many bird species, including 2 species of toucans, and had a close treetop encounter with a family of red-furred howler monkeys. No jaguar signs were present, though, despite the region’s fame for being home to many of the big cats.

Nothing is quite so surreal as sitting on a treetop in the rainforest with Adam, hunkered beneath golf umbrellas during a torrential downpour, and playing 20 questions to kill the time.

The night was spent in hammocks in the open, by the ranger’s cabin. Once again, it was a terrifying but joyful experience. Every small sound emanating from the trees sounds like a jaguar approaching camp. Lying in pitch blackness doesn’t help.

The flight back to Georgetown was eventful for three reasons:

  1. the plane was filled with Christian missionaries from Alabama. The fellow next to me had ever before left the USA and knew NOTHING about Guyana, not even the difference between AmerIndians and East Indians. I squeezed as much of an education for him as I could into that short flight;
  2. the flight itself was unsettling. The plane was a 15-seater cessna that rode the clouds lik a whitewater raft; and
  3. once in the air, I discovered I had left my cell phone –my precious, wondrous PDA– back in Rupununi! Auuuugh!!!!

Now here’s where the magic of the new Guyana continues to impress. We landed in Georgetown and was met by a driver from the tour operator who informed me that they had found my phone in Rupununi, and had already arranged to fly it out to me the next night! I am proud to report that my baby is back in my arms, purring contentedly. For those who don’t get it, my phone is worth $1000 brand new, and puts to shame the finest computers in this country. It’s a wonder that it has been returned to me unscathed.

And my final bit of news… my stay here has been extended 10 days. Yes, there are worse things than working in the tropics while a savage cold spell beats down my home in Ottawa.

PS

  • The photo at the front of my site has been fixed. Arrrrgh, that Bravenet!
  • Rondi, a few critter pics are forthcoming