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Published: March 28th 2009
Six dark figures approached me on the jungle path. Five of them were carrying machetes. Hotel Rwanda? Long sleeves or short sleeves? Would this be my end? Music emanated from the approaching men. The sixth figure was carrying a boom box. I breathed a sigh of relief. The men were pork knockers on their way back from a long days work.
Since the world diamond price had dropped, they were in need of a new source of income. There be gold in them there hills! The switch had left its consequences. Battery casings lay everywhere, mercury polluted the rivers. People were sick, there nerves at an end. Relief coming from puffs of ganja.
Rodney had owned a guesthouse until gambling left him pork knocking the tiny stream behind the village. A karat of small, low quality stones brought him 35 EUR. And a drinking/billiard spree at one of the two stores in Amatuk. With no boats to take me to the next set of rapids in Waratuk, this is where I found myself as well.
The trip had been straightforward so far. An eight hour minivan ride from Georgetown to Mahdia. Two hours walk through the jungle to
A pork knocker's delight and a woman's fancy
Pamela Landing, three huts, one store and a collection of speakers playing music so loud a pimp would be proud. I set up my hammock underneath the roof of an abandoned building and woke up to find some activity on the river. A Canadian mining company owner was moving his equipment to the southern Rupununi. Going from diamond to gold country. Agreed with one of the boatmen on a price and headed for Amatuk. Got stuck.
With the slowdown in diamond mining, activity on the river had been reduced to a trickle. Boats were few and far between. Tried my luck hiking out but got beaten by the jungle. After suffering the umpteenth cut on my hands and a huge thorn to boot, decided to backtrack. With three days hiking ahead of me and no alcohol to disinfect my wounds it wasn't worth risking an infection. The rain was falling without cease and the bugs were out in full force. The trip that had taken me two hours one way was over less than fourty minutes later. John, the Amerindian boat captain whose family I was staying with would be hauling goods upriver the following day and I would
Waratuk, Tukeit and I was off, trekking again. This time the path was clear. An hour later and three hundred metres higher in elevation, I was on the Guiana Shield, one of the oldest rock formations on the planet. But Im no geologist, else Id know the difference between a diamond and quartz and would be pork knocking the surrounding area. I was on a different quest. Kaieteur. A word that had infested my thoughts for almost four years. An internet travel story had caught my attention and spurred my imagination. The worlds highest single drop waterfall at 226m. 251m total.
Cross country, upriver, through the jungle and up the mountains. Indiana Jones style. No whip but armed with a machete, oatmeal and water purification tablets. Here I was, standing at the top of the falls. And I couldn see a thing. Damn the rain. Damn the mist. Wait! Whats that? A golden sparkle on the left. Had I hit the jackpot? El Dorado? Was my retirement near? Nope...a golden frog. The giant bromeliads were harbouring dozens of them. I was busy taking photographs of the little critters when a giant gaping chasm opened up right
in front of me. Majestically, there they stood...Kaieteur falls in all their splendour.
The mission was complete, my mind at peace. Two days later I took the easier and cheaper way out and caught a plane. Guyana had been good to me but it was time for new adventures. Stay tuned...
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