Once more I am huddled in my tent in Waramadong village on the Kamarang river, a distant stone’s throw from the Venezuelan border, frantically squishing monstrous and nameless jungle bugs like the big sissy that I am. Outside, a torrential downpour is sending the river into frenzies as gorgeous sheet lightning frames the otherworldly flat mountains near the Venezuelan border.
Today was our last working day in Guyana. Tomorrow morning we are scheduled to pack up our tents and take a motorized canoe downriver to Kamarang, whence a bush plane will fly us the two hours to the capital city Georgetown.
But what an eventful day it has been.
While we are indeed cut off from phones, tv, most radio and all internet, news still travels astonishingly fast. Remember the poor woman who was bitten by a snake? The one whom a colleague and I had to carry up 30 feet of stairs from her canoe to the clinic? She was flown to Georgetown with her worried husband a few days ago. Today we learned that she died there.
My heart goes out to her and her family. The government pays for aboriginals to be flown out for medical care, but not for their return. The impoverished husband is now all alone in the “big” city without people who speak his dialect, facing enormous amounts of racism, and possibly without any way to get himself or his wife’s corpse back home.
We had another snake bite victim right here in Waramadong. But thankfully, after spending a night in the health post (where we have cast our tents), this morning he walked home on his own power.
When I get home, I really must look into some way to get antivenin made and stored locally here.
We also made our final –and biggest– presentation today, this time to 400 high school students. Once again, I pretty much winged it, but it went well. Half way through our condom demonstration, however, we were ordered to move on to another topic!
Which brings us to today’s real drama. In the wee hours, the local principal came knocking with 2 women in tow: one a mother, the other her 13 year old daughter who had been impregnated by an older man. For some weird reason, the mother ran out to fetch the purported father, and a whole little Maury Povich show erupted in our little camp. My kingdom for a paternity kit!
I’m not sure what was resolved, if anything. But the lesson here is that these communities need counselors, community organizers (Gobama!), condoms and a greater intervention by the law.