Saturday, 24 November 2007

One down - four to go...

We are in email contact with Paul Rose. The team are on the way back. Paul has flown back to Barbados, while Richard, Lisa, Chris and Jon, together with their guides and hunters are apparently still in Guyana.

Details are scanty at the moment, but we will tell you more as we can.

Paul writes:

"For me, the single weirdest thing has been the red-faced "bush people" who are pretty much accepted as fact by more or less everyone we met. While descriptions of the Dai Dai and the water tiger varied (though in the former case everyone described them as "big, hairy, men"), and the giant anaconda is a bit difficult to pin down (as it were), size-wise, the bush people were very consisent.

Even our guide, Damon, who hadn't really commented on anything monster-wise, eventually admitted to having seen one. And being a tribal chieftan he's very respectful of such things. Last night, while the others went to Pakuri, I stayed at the home/insect-ridden hovel of a guy called Marvin (neither paranoid, nor an android), who was an Arawak like Damon. He now lives in the centre of Georgetown, and has kind of turned his back on the whole Amerindian thing to a degree. I asked him about the Dai Dai, and just kind of laughed, and said that he doesn't think it exists (the first person we'd met to say that - but he was undoubtedly the most urbanised person I'd spoken to about it), but when I brought up the bush people he just kind of shrugged, and said "Yeah, they're real. They're like little, uncivilised people, who paint their faces red, like tobacco, and don't wear no clothes. Like pygmies".

Which I found rather interesting..."

He continues:

"It was absolutely the toughest thing I've ever done, certainly physically, and - at times - emotionally too. Without question. The day we had on the savannah, following the anaconda/caiman hunt in the morning, was just unbearable, and the four mile-plus walk that evening - with heatstroke, nausea, dizziness, was the closest I've ever come to thinking I was going to die. Properly, genuinely, die. That and the fact that every vehicle we boarded seemed to break down in the middle of nowhere, in the blazing sun. Part of the reason we were all going to come back early is because the bus between Lethem and Georgetown is so desperately unreliable. They had to send out a replacement for us 90 minutes into our journey, and then the replacement nearly lost a wheel, and the drivers didn't have the correct tools to tighten it back on (hence we flew back from Lethem, so that we didn't miss our flights home - but the only flight we could get back was on Friday morning). It's a true third world country, with all the challenges that entails. Just the lack of proper roads, and the constant uneven surfaces, are killer. My virtually pristine, all-too-un-broken boots that I took out with me are coming back looking like they've been through a combine harvester.

The day we interviewed Ernesto Faris at his fish farm, and he took us to see the two-tailed red caiman cave was a particular highlight for me. Stepping into that jungle clearing, the caves in front of us, was pure The Lost World/Indiana Jones - vampire bats, anthills up to my shoulder, underground waterfalls. Incredible. And being the only people outside of Taushida to ever see the burial pots atop Taushida Mountain was pretty close to a highlight of my life. Could've done without being passed the skull of a tribal chieftan's son to hold, but it was a breathtaking moment. Nearly died on the way down, mind, but that was pretty much a daily occurence for most of us.

Spirits remained mostly high, though we were all dreadfully fatigued towards the end. Not so much physically, just worn down overall I think. And the guys over there probably still are, I'm just lucky enough to have been able to get somewhere civilised (and have had enough spare money left to have afforded to do so), as a sort of decompression chamber before I re-enter the real world."

1 comment:

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I wish the team a safe journey home.