Monday, 26 November 2007

PAUL ROSE: Here's how I ended up in Barbados.

Here's how I ended up in Barbados.

We had to weigh up the decision whether or not to get the bus (I use the term loosely - it's like something out of Mad Max) back from Lethem, to Georgetown. On the outward journey our first bus had broken down, and the replacement bus almost lost a wheel at one point. Plus, for ventilation the windows are kept open at all times, and when you're driving for 15 hours on a dust road you come out the other end looking like you've just been swept off to Oz in a tornado, sans the protective shell of a Kansas homestead. We didn't want to be flying for 12 hours in that condition - IF the bus had even got us to Georgetown on time. Which, Damon said, was doubtful.

We enquired about flights from Lethem's airfield, but the flight for the day we needed was booked up, and the only available flight was Friday. Just so happened that they had five seats (and space for a consignment of very noisy macaws). It was a tiny plane, and like every other vehicle we'd been in, it seemed to be falling apart. I was sat behind the pilot, and just as we took off, the entire back of his seat sheared off, and fell in my lap. I had to hold onto it for the duration of the journey.

Nobody wanted to go back - especially not as we'd just gotten into the rainforest, and started to hear tales of the Dai Dai in the mountains outside Lethem, and so we started talking about maybe getting our flights brought forward, and possibly having a day or two in Barbados, as a sort of reward for what we'd been through. Unfortunately, when we enquired about flights, there was only one seat on the plane out of Georgetown to Barbados (where our flight to Heathrow is booked to leave on Tuesday), and - once they'd done the sums - I was the only one left with enough money to pay the required fee.

I confess, the thought of seeing my kids again somewhat took the sting out of finishing the expedition before the others, but my insane and scary night on my own in Georgetown, and the fact I couldn't get my connecting flight to Heathrow moved forward, have put paid to that! Hey ho. Worse places to get stranded.

Damon very kindly arranged for the others to stay with his family in Pakuri (also known as St. Cuthbert's Mission), which was out of the question for me, as I'd given almost all of my camping gear to Damon as a thankyou (and he was back in Lethem still - and I didn't want to stay in Georgetown if I could help it).The guys started talking about whether they could follow up on the leads they'd got when we'd first been in Pakuri. We'd heard reports of a girl being abducted by a "big, hairy man", in a village 30 miles from Pakuri. Plus, they were planning to get some footage of anacondas, which had been seen in the grasslands around the village. This was their plan for the weekend, but we should know more on Tuesday, when they fly back. I'll drop you a line tomorrow with more.

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