11 Jun Guyana: Off Deh Grid and into Deh Wata
Posted at 20:15h
in Past Programs
A blog in 3 parts
Part I: Chris
It has been a crazy Precon here in South America for Jo and Chris. Chris has spent the last 3 months traveling through south america. He backpacked along the Coast of Brazil and then Wondered into the Jungle of Bolivia following a tip from a travelor we met at a bar when we were in Georgetown in January. In the Jungle Chris was working for a park and wildlife conservation project where he woke at 6:00 am every morning to feed monkeys, care for exotic birds and mainly work with one of the many Big Cats who have been abandoned by Zoo’s private owners. He was taking care of a Puma named Roy for the past 40 days walking with him for up to 20 km in the rainforest. Unfortunately he got bit by a monkey, the jungle took its toll and he spent 2 weeks bedridden with dengue symptoms which meant he wasn’t able to make it to Guyana for the 3 weeks of Precon.
Part II: Jo
In the meantime Jo rocked Precon in Guyana on her own. This is her story: “In Lethem I Stayed with Navin DeCosta and his lovely wife who hosted me for the night while their tiny and adorable baby girl. from there I caught a ride in with a pickup truck to yupukari where I spent 5 days liming in hammocks with the volunteers, bathing in the pond in the evenings and traveling into Kaicumbay to finalize plans for accommodation and projects for the trip. In Kaicumbay I met with Macintosh a village councilor and Roxanne the headmistress of the School we will be working with. Macintosh generously offered us his home to sleep in for our 3 weeks stay since he recently moved to a ranch a mile or so down the road. He also offered anyone who is willing to walk over horseback riding lessons on the ranch! AMAZING. We have tons of Projects lined up for our stay. The main group project will be organizing the books that have been previously donated into a library and running activities with the staff and the kids to get everyone used to using this new resource. After that I took a 32 hour bus ride that lasted from Wednesday night to Friday morning to get back to Georgetown to check in in with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and take a spin on the Essequibo River to visit the lovely town of Bartica fishing for catfish and drinking highwine with the local rif raf.”
The team arrives in Guyana! Here is Ashley’s Perspective. “This is the most culturally interesting place I have ever seen. Georgetown has a great atmosphere and feel and it’s super easy to navigate. The greatest part so far though has been the people. They will make smooching noises at you when you pass by and you get your fair share of car honks, but it’s not offensive.
The day the team landed in Georgetown we got to know each other, eating some Caribbean cook-up cuisine and doing a bit of poolside relaxation before heading down to the sea-wall in the evening to jump in headfirst to the Georgetown tradition of liming. We sat, had a beer or three, downed a delicious serving of shark and chips, chatted to a few locals- all the while keeping an eye on a few cheeky kids who were trying their best to pickpocket us! We’d found out the day before that the one single road that connects Georgetown to Guyana’s jungle interior was impassable so we had to juggle our plans and charter a flight instead. This resulted in a crazy next day, a Mad Dash slash Scavenger Hunt, running around the city buying school materials, tools, and food- all our supplies for when we’re well and truly Off The Grid. Walking through the vibrant marketplace was a must for the scavanger hunt which sent the team searching the town for freshly caught paku fish, prehistoric giant sloths, and golden Gandhi statues. At night we met up with the awesome Jane Stables to discuss a media project depicting disabilities in Amerindian communities, and afterwards attended a Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination night at a jazz club this type of event was a unique treat becuase it is really progressive for a place like Guyana.
The next morning the bleary-eyed team woke up at the crack of dawn to catch a mosquito-sized little airplane down south into the interior headlands. After we’d rubbed the sleep out of our eyes we had a breathtaking view of the flooded plains and savannahs and were only slightly disconcerted when the pilot leaned back in his chair, pulled out his Blackberry and started reading the newspaper. Touching down in Karanambu airstrip we took a boat trip through the flooded forest to the otter orphanage, passing giant Amazonian lily blossoms, a LARGE BLACK CAIMAN disapearing into the water and sunbathing river turtles before we were officially welcomed at the landing by the legendary Diane McTurk and Philip the wild giant river otter who was splashing on the lakeshore.
During the afternoon we enjoyed Diane’s amazing company (and her world famous rum-punch!) as she regaled us with stories of way-back-when, and we met a few more of her animal friends. Then it was off to Yupukari village! As the sun set, we coasted up the Rupununi river on a couple of longboats, passing a screaming howler monkey and a iguana having a siesta in a tree.
In Yupukari the group learnt the finer points of hanging up hammocks and mosquito netting before getting some much-needed shuteye.
We spent the next three days adjusting to a village lifestyle and meeting the colourful characters around Yupukari. We learnt about the geography of the region, learnt how to make bake, did a yoga session led by shari, got a village tour with the afterschool program led by Rupununi learners, talked to local librarians and the headmistress about setting up the kaicumbay library,helped at teh clinic, went on a boat ride,msoccer game, dance, Kari, getting accustommed to bathing in the lake, end-of-the-night gaffing over a boulanger curry, group activities, el dorado, boated over the flooded grasslands to reach a cassava plantation. ashleigh is writing an article of an outsiders perspective of El Dorado and the rupununi region.