Well, here we are, up the Jungle. Well,not quite.
This is only my second ever visit to rain-forested and otherwise Equatorial Tropical Weather. Given the choice the best time to come here is when we begin to be busy planning for and delivering the first courses of the year at Biblins-bushcraft in the Forest of Dean. Feb and March and April, or Autumn, for us that is as. There are two wet seasons; our Summer and our Winter, and of course that's when we shut down for RnR and a bit of PD and even staff training..
The winter one is the lesser more manageable one and the closer you get to the interior the less it affects your ability to travel. We still had a full week of down-poor though and couldn't leave the place we are shacked up. Of course too, that when we have the most power cuts and no internet access.
We are living in a little village on a busy road and so buying food is not difficult and fruit and veg and meat are plentiful. Basic techniques have saved us from tummy upset. You can buy bottled water, but you need so much it becomes a financial issue, There is piped mains water to most yards and some have plumbed their homes in the modern fashion, but the tap water is not to be trusted. They wont even wash with it but collect rainwater for that. We use the "lifesaver" filter extensively and a few weeks ago moved on to just boiling the water for tea. We wash everything we buy to eat in bleach or Citronella, even if we are going to peel it. We have given up on green leaf salads as its too wilted and doesn't survive the washing process too well. Meat is killed and prepared quickly enough but we still soak it in vinegar water to help kill anything.
We will check for parasites when we get home. Well, we worm the dog don't we.
Malaria was a worry, and we have brought drugs (deciding on the more expensive Malarone given its shorter span for taking) and watch out for any feeling unwell, but we were advised that it was not a risk in our area. When we go to the interior for more than a quick visit though, decisions will have to be made. The drugs are all antibiotic and of course you cant live on them. The advice we have from the American couple we have befriended is, don't take the drugs, not if you intend to be here for long. If you get ill then go to a doctor and get well is their advice. They both live and work for extended periods in the interior, often taking boat trips to remote settlements and wilderness areas. They have been here for a few years and they say they have never been ill, then you learn they have both had Malaria and a number of other issues, but got treatment and got well. They don't get ill on their trips because of the precautions they take, but malaria is inescapable if this is your life and work.
Our trip here will last over two months and has a number of competing but not conflicting purposes and goals. We came with great ideas and a stack of plans and have of course been on a strict learning curve. We did our research before we came but, as the people and businesses we wanted to find wouldn't have internet or probably a phone, and given that we were here for such a long trip, we felt confident we wouldn't struggle once here. How wrong we were.
This is, in small part, a pioneering expedition. We are planning no major changes to how we run Biblins-bushcraft, and I'm getting too old to learn and then teach too many new tricks. But Guyana is a great destination.
By the way, the best help so far in planning this trip has come from two major souses:
Firstly, Ian, of Bushmasters. His Amazon expedition and jungle training company was highly recommended and his travel and other advice have been very helpful. I had hoped to meet up with him and or take advantage of his offer of Amerindian Guides but getting out to Lethem, the other side of the country, is proving harder than I imagined. He was right.
The second reference we use almost daily is the Bradt Guyana Guidebook, Kirk Smock edition 2. It even has helpful numbers to ring.
The heat is oppressive, well, it is if you are trying to work or get to somewhere. The rain washes roads away for weeks at a time services that made their way into a tourist booklet or brochure last year are no longer in business for one reason or another.
The other challenge has been the seasonal celebrations. Places we want are shut down or too drunk to get sense out of.
But don't be put off by the above negative comments. Chill out, do the siesta thing and you will be fine. If you have ever climbed at altitude you will know what I mean; plodding beats athleticism every time.
The natives, or should I say peoples are all warm and friendly and like to laugh and joke. We don't see too many natives, Amerindians, mostly the population is Black African and Indian. They all speak the same incredibly difficult to follow English, unless that is they speak full Creole, then you are dead in the water.
While experts prefer a Machete or Parange for their programmes, the natives tool of choice is the Cutlass. A two foot long lightweight sword used for everything from brush clearance to slicing the top off a coconut for the milk.
There are two major visits to the interior planned, should the plans work out and the budget spread.
That's all I have time for now as my presence is sought. I just hope that the internet holds out while this uploads, it often doesn't.