Friday, May 15, 2009
My week in Guyana
After my adventures in Trinidad?Tobago David and I flew back to Guyana for the night. In the morning we flew the Mooney on special permission into the interior and landed at one of the larger villages. From there we got a ride with James Ash, one of the local GMI pilots over to the village of Kai-Kan. We spent Sabbath there and participated in the dedication of their new church. Kai-Kan is the village where David got his start as a volunteer about 13 or 14 years ago.
Sabbath afternoon I wanted to go hiking and I asked some of the missionaries if there were any good places around. To my surprise they informed me that they had been walking all week and they were all enjoying the break. I also learned that they had to walk but to the Davis Indian Industrial College on Sunday. I asked David what his plans where and I decided that I would rather walk than fly...We were all excited about the idea. David and Becky said that all pilots should walk to get an idea of what the natives do for transportation, the missionaries were friendly and welcoming and I was excited to get out and stretch my legs.
We left about noon on Sunday and hiked less than four hours to our first campsite. Monday was our big day with a solid eight hours of hiking. I guessed that it was about sixteen miles mostly on the savannah. Monday night and Tuesday were a little rough. Our camp on Monday night was in a beautiful location in a ravine just about a waterfall. We set up camp and it soon was apparent that the campsite was adequate for about a dozen people. Our group was over twenty. There was a nice structure of poles lashed with vines that supported a tarp and about ten hammocks for the girls. The boys constructed a shelter that comfortably held about six hammocks. After that we were on our own. We finally ended up "bunking" some of the hammocks, slinging one very low and another very high because trees were so limited in the space under the tarp. I slung mine from makeshift post on one end and a tree on the other. The tree end stuck out beyond the tarp a significant amount so I spent a bunch of time trying to rig a small piece of plastic to make up the difference. Much to my dismay it started to rain shortly after we all went to bed. I laid in my hammock vainly hoping that my little plastic would shed the rain. It didn't....I went on laying in my hammock trying to decide if I could sleep with a slow trickle running under my back. Finally, after my pants were already wet, I decided that it wouldn't do and got up to fix the problem. After about thirty minutes of fiddling I climbed in to test my set up for at least the fifth time and no water came in. I took a deep breath, pulled my blanket close against the cold, tried to ignore my soggy backside and settled in to enjoy the night. Getting wet had been second on my list of worst problems for the night. My hammock falling was the worst possible circumstance. Only about ten minutes after I settled in there was a cracking noise and my hammock settled onto the wet ground. Oh NOOOOO. I climbed out and inspected the damaged, soon I was joined by Steve Duncan, a missionary who was sharing my post. We were glad to discover that the smaller of the two post anchor set up had broken so we adjusted the large one, drove it a little deeper into the swampy ground and propped it with the broken pieces. After drying our muddy feet as best as possible we climbed into bed again. Another ten minutes went by and then CRACK! We both hit the ground with a solid bump. Our post had snapped off completely! There comes a point in any wet sleepless night of camping when I say to myself "it will be a miracle if we get any sleep tonight." These were my thoughts when the second post cracked. There wasn't even a dry place to sit so I was wondering where I would stand until the rain stopped. Steve was sure that we could come up with a solution so we started looking. I had been the one to cut and insert that post and it had taken a couple hours to make our setup. I knew I didn't want to go through that all again so I was determined to find a tree to tie to. We found one tree all the way across the shelter and by switching some ropes we were able to free up a long one to reach the tree. I waded out into the swamp and tied the rope as high as I could reach and brought the loose end back under the tarp. We were able to sling both our hammocks from this one rope and thanks to God it was a strong one. The next morning we woke up rested and almost dry, to a raging river just a few feet below our shelter.
After the night of rain the trail was very wet but we didn't have too far to go on Tuesday. The last few miles took hours though because we were back in the jungle going downhill on slippery mud almost the whole way. The mud was a whole new experience for me. I do not envy the locals who deal with it every day.