How to beat claustrophobia


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South America » Guyana » Annai
September 3rd 2013
Published: September 4th 2013
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Tuesday 3rd September

Before I start – I will avoid uploading photos on this blog until I get to NYC. I don’t want to kill the bandwidth here.



The curse of the jetlag continues and I’m wide awake at 4:30am. I have 2 ½ hours to kill before I am due to be picked up by Terrence to start the journey. A nice cold shower instantly puts a spark into me and I’m ready for the adventure.



Terrence picks up at 7am from the Rainforest B&B and we head on down to Ogle Airport. Ogle is a much smaller airport than Cheddi Jaggan and specialises in small commercial flights to domestic areas and to border countries like Suriname. Because the plane is so small, the weight limit for luggage per person is only 9kgs. I clearly have much more luggage than that and brace myself for a large excess baggage fee, or worse yet, having to leave stuff behind with Terrence. They weigh my bags, the box of gifts for the school and my own weight on a little scale. I’m 20 pounds over weight, so another 9kgs over what is allowed.
View of Ogle AirportView of Ogle AirportView of Ogle Airport

From this tiny little plane and tiny little window - the journey of fear began!
I go over to pay the excess and turns out, it only costs USD$15 for all that extra!



Eventually at around 8:30am it’s time to board the 12 seater plane and as I stumble up the steps, the realisation of how small this plane actually is, hits me. If my ass was another inch wider, I would have been stuck in the aisle, wedged in like a door stopper. There’s 1 seat on the left, 2 on the right – please let me get a 1 seat spot and not have to have someone else invade my wide load! I can barely get my back pack through the aisle, I bang my head at least 3 times on the roof and eventually manage to slot myself into a single seat. The little putt-putt engine starts roaring and the pilot turns around and nonchalantly recommends we look at the safety card ourselves and then turns back to the controls. In no time we are up in the air over Georgetown and all that greenery is nothing in comparison to what I am about to see.



While battling my fear of heights and small spaces –
RainforestRainforestRainforest

One of the many rivers in Guyana. The view from high up in the plane.
I focus on my Sudoku. This my friends, is the key to conquering claustrophobia. If you ever feel scared, just distract yourself with something unimportant, your fears will fade away. When I get scared of heights, I just sing to myself, my fear fades away.



The plane trip should last about 2 hours as we travel from Ogle to Annai – the plane will drop people off at Annai and then go onto Lethem. After 30 minutes in the air, the rainforest begins. It’s so lush and green and I find myself wondering what wildlife is buried deep in the jungle. Every now and again I spot the winding rivers going through the rainforest, breaking up the greenery. The higher up in the clouds we get, the more turbulence we hit and then I panic and go back to the Sudoku. The clouds begin to block my view and 15 minutes before we land, the sky grows clear once again and the Rupununi Savannah appears in all its glory.



The plane begins to descend and we come close the ground. The plane tilts to the left and I feel as if the wall of
Finally landedFinally landedFinally landed

This is the little plane after we landed at Annai airstrip which is located on the edge of Rock View Lodge in North Rupununi.
the plane will give way and I will topple out onto the savannah. Luckily, this doesn’t happen. At 10am we land on a tiny little airstrip which seems to be in the middle of nowhere but is actually the site of Rock View Lodge, a little oasis in the savannah. Turns out, I’m the only one getting off here and again I have to squeeze inbetween the seats and hitting every person with my backpack and apologising like there’s no tomorrow. The only other thing other than me to be offloaded from the plane is the mail bag.



I’m greeted by two lodge staff members who help me with my load and leave me at the bar on the edge of the airstrip. They tell me that Russian (the local volunteer co-ordinator at Rewa Eco Lodge) has gone to go get the supplies with the others but will be back. Half an hour passes, another hour passes…. I start to think of back up plans if they never turn up. Again, the cure, this time for boredom, is Sudoku. I wait it out and think surely they will come. Then a happy face arrives and it’s Russian
Supply run!Supply run!Supply run!

Being completely useless and watching from afar as the team unload the supplies from the car and onto the boat. The water is very flooded and usually there is another area that they would unload but they have to head to this space to load and unload the boat.
coming to collecting me at 12pm. That was a long 2 hours but the best thing about adapting to these cultures is that it really gives you time to ponder and absorb your surroundings. Where would all the fun be if you spent all your time on a strict schedule?



We walk up the pathway and get into a Toyota ute loaded up with all the supplies for the eco lodge. We travel down some bumpy roads with some of the staff hanging onto the back of the ute. We only have to travel about 20 – 30 minutes on the roads which really don’t even look like roads or even a path. I suspect this trip would normally take 10 minutes if it weren’t for all the bumps. We pull up to what I think is the edge of the river. Turns out, it’s not even the river at all! The boat landing is flooded and so is the savannah, so we will have to travel through some mangroves to get to the river. The guys back up the ute into the water and start loading all the goods onto a small little boat. I offer
Rupununi RiverRupununi RiverRupununi River

This is the Rupununi river which is incredibly flooded. I would soon learn how flooded it is when the water drops quite a lot of the next few weeks.
to help, but clearly, my little muscles may only be a hindrance to the task at hand. I wait in the shade while I watch them all work so hard and out of nowhere this little girl appears. She couldn’t be more than 2 years old. She stumbles through the grass and it seems the guys all know who she is. Shortly after, her two older sisters appear and an older brother and then her mum and dad. They are from Rewa village and they will come on the boat with us and we will drop them off.



We get started on the trip which should take approximately 2.5 hours. We start at about 1pm and we travel through the mangroves for 20 minutes then pass the actual boat landing and head out on the Rupununi River. The river is so wide with tall trees along the edge. After about an hour and a half we take some shortcuts through the flooded creeks. I ask how deep the water is and they say about 6 metres. I ask how high it usually is in dry season – they say only 1 metre. The rainy season has ended but they have been getting some late rain coming through in the past week or so. Through the trip we firstly see a spider monkey with her baby high up in the sky. I don’t know how Russian could spot it! When we are in the mangroves, we spot a Capuchin monkey on it’s own and then back on the river we see a family of Howler Monkeys swinging through the trees. I don’t even get a chance to take a photo because they moves so quickly through the trees as we are floating with the water. We also pass a dug out canoe with three people from another village.



Over 3 hours later, we finally arrive at Rewa and drop off the family. There are lots of dug out canoes which the locals use to travel short distances in the river. We continue on ahead for another 500 metres and turn the corner into the Rewa river and there is the lodge. My home for the next 4 weeks. Rewa Eco Lodge is beautiful. This time I am much more help in unloading the boat and carrying it up to the main hut. I’m given some
Looks suspiciously like....Looks suspiciously like....Looks suspiciously like....

birds nests!! They hang down by just a tiny bit of straw/sticks. They look they will drop any second but they are quite secure.
time to relax until dinner and Russian heads home to his village to see his daughter.



I get my own room and as I take off my shirt, I realise how sunburnt my forearm and hands are. Not sure how they are so burnt and not my back as I’d had my shirt off and just a singlet top for the first hour of the boat trip. It’s not actually a painful burn, I didn’t actually notice until I took off my mosquito bracelet and saw the difference in colour.



Dinner times comes and I am collected to go eat in the main hut. There’s a group of about 6 men that are heading off on a wilderness adventure for the next 5 or so days and will be on the look out for Jaguars. I’m put on a table on my own and luckily the group invite me over to sit with them. It’s nice to have a bit of company although they are leaving the following day.



I can hear a cracker of a storm in the distance and some wild lightning but the storm never comes to Rewa.
Dug Out CanoesDug Out CanoesDug Out Canoes

I felt a bit bad that we were speeding past in the boat while these local Amerindians were struggling against the water in the dug out in the middle of the day.
The air is moist and fresh but I am looking forward to getting into my boudoir, equipped with a protective mosquito net. I close my eyes for one moment but I fall fast asleep.


Additional photos below
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Rewa Eco LodgeRewa Eco Lodge
Rewa Eco Lodge

And this place would be my home for the next 4 weeks. Paradise.


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