Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:56 PM
Back in Touch Wednesday, 14 March 2012 Feb. 28, 2012Supanam
All is well here in Guyana on the jungle river named Supanam. We have been out of touch because our Iridium phone that we normally send our satellite updates out on has not been getting good reception. The phone seems to work but the signal is not very strong. The internet place in town has also had trouble with their internet which comes through a phone company. Time has passed in our lives in the bush. Darshen still goes to school every morning and in the afternoon I row him ashore to play with the children of Nato, the boat builder and other friends from school. We finally got organized and hired some teenage boys to help us work on the schooner. We’ve been busy chipping out old fiberglass and putting new Fer-A-Lite in. Fer-A-Lite is the original material that the schooner was made of. We have also been chipping steel everywhere. This is only the beginning of the work that has to be done and it has been a lot more time consuming than I imagined. We have been slowly laying the groundwork for the repairs that need to be done and I have a feeling that those projects will be difficult too. We wake up at dawn every day and watch the sunrise through the trees. The motorboats start running up and down the river carrying children to school, workers to the village and lumber workers up the river. Some of the boats are so loaded that they are only a few inches above the water. The women carry bright umbrellas to shade from the sun. We still haven’t seen any tourists or foreign boats. Everyone in Supanam has been very nice and we like it here a lot. The Jaguar and the Internet Wednesday, 14 March 2012 Mar. 1, 2012
As we sat having breakfast one morning, our friend Vishnu Singh drove by in his boat and told us that he had shot a jaguar the night before and we could go see it on the shore nearby. We often wonder if there was a jaguar prowling in the jungle that was so close we can sometimes reach out and touch the bamboo from the boat. The jaguar had been killing the villagers’ baby goats and they called Vishnu to stop the jaguar. He found the remains of a goat nearby and set some traps. Then Vishnu hid in a tree and waited through the night. He heard a noise and shone his big flashlight through the clouds of mosquitoes and shot him.
By the time we got ready to go ashore, a couple boat loads of villagers were crossing the river to see the jaguar. We rowed over very close to where the schooner was anchored, walked across a muddy field, and then across a narrow plank slippery with mud and finally saw the dead jaguar in the grass.
Darshen asked what did the jaguar say when Vishnu shot it. I told Darshen the jaguar said, “Oh my goodness. I’m shot, I’m dead now. I should never have eaten those people’s goats. I’m king of the jungle, but I learned my lesson. Next time I’ll stay far away from man and his guns.” It’s a fine line between wilderness and civilization. On occasion, each side forays into the other’s camp. As wild and isolated as this place is there is still internet, TV, and instant contact with the rest of the world. People who live in huts on poles watch American news. They are influenced instantaneously by the world media.
Bats Aboard Wednesday, 14 March 2012 Feb. 6, 2012Supanam We have had all kinds of little jungle creatures come aboard like tarantulas, giant beetles, frogs, black and iridescent blue butterflies, big spiders, strange wasps, bees, neon green flies, and bats. The first bat flew into the cargo hold bathroom while Rachel was in there. Her amazement and curiosity fluctuated between “ooohs” and yelps of fear as she looked closely at our furry intruder hanging upside down in a corner of the cargo hold. We were sitting in the cockpit the next night when he flew right past us and took up the same spot in the cargo hold. We all tried to photograph him but only Rachel got a good shot in the dark corner. The next morning we found a sweet plantain busted open and half eaten away, which attracted more flies than one could believe. Soanya covered all the food in the galley with tightly tied plastic screen and we sleep under a mosquito net. The locals said bats are bad to have around. We asked why. They said “Because they bite your ears and toes.” We don’t want bats to get too friendly either because they might bring their friends with them. Then it could get unsanitary. It is spooky to hear them flap and flutter around us at night. So far though, they haven’t bothered us too much. The Beat of a Wooden Drum Wednesday, 14 March 2012 Feb.15, 2012Supanam Finally we woke up to a clear sunny day and we really appreciated it. I was beginning to think the big wooden boat on the shore looked a lot like Noah’s ark through the curtain of rain. Darshen and I rowed ashore for a visit. The boat builder, Nato, and his crew work hard all day. We hear them pounding on the wooden hull which sounds like a big wooden drum echoing across our little jungle river. We see progress on their boat every day. The smell of fresh cut wood wafts over to us. We work every day too but our progress is difficult to see. It takes time to gather materials and workers, and plan major rebuilds. Besides being busy as a mother, Soanya does the shopping, cooking, cleaning and organizing in the aft section of the schooner, as well as sending out our stories. Rachel handles every kind of work but is now specializing in trying to solve our electrical problems. Alex takes care of every kind of muscle work and engine related jobs. They really like being here and express wonder at every little bug, butterfly, and bird. They also enjoy socializing with the local people here and getting a feel for the culture. I am still in wonder at being here. It is a special unique place far off the beaten path. It took three local pilots to get us here and it wasn’t without mishap. I almost feel more isolated here than I did at sea. I will feel more at home when I have wavey seas around me in every direction. Soanya’s View:I am really enjoying my stay here in Guyana . I experience it both as a tourist and as a familiar place at the same time. I like that I can understand and almost speak the pigeon English and that the food is fresh and delicious. Darshen is having so much fun playing with other kids his age. There are a lot of children of all ages everywhere who are happy to have another playmate and he is beginning to pick up the language too (which might be confusing for him when he gets back to New York ). Thankfully, the rains have eased off and the mud is drying so its more pleasant to walk around (traded in my rubber boots for slippers) and we finally caught up with all the laundry from the voyage over here that needed a good washing and drying in hot tropical sun. A lot of people don’t have refrigerators here. Not that they need it since no one wants to eat day old food anyway. They also don’t have hot water, but again in the tropical heat, hot water wouldn’t be used too often anyway. It’s a very simple and basic style of living, but meets all of the needs of the people. I would like to see more art and creative expressions. There doesn’t seem to be any creative writing, painting, drawing, music, theater, or sculpture going on. There is some dance and singing in the capital city, but in the countryside even that is missing. I hope I see a little more of the artsy side before I leave.