Toucan's and Jaguars... and Children - Oh My!

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South America » Guyana » North Rupununi » Rewa
September 9th 2013
Published: September 15th 2013
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The Edwards FamilyThe Edwards FamilyThe Edwards Family

heading out for the Harpy Eagle trek. Rudys family will farm while we trek.
Friday 6th September 2013

Finally a cool day! The breeze is actually quite cold and I find myself wearing a shirt over my singlet rather than using my shirt to collect and wipe all my sweat during the day.

The day starts and I set to work trying to build an excel matrix for quoting 2014 rates. At the moment, it’s very manual and they spend a lot of timing add the costs up. I have literally worked on it all day and I’m almost there, just having a couple troubles with how they cost a particular portion. I’m trying to make it easy enough for them to review the rates again and update in 2015. I’m outta there at 4pm, my brain is fried and the heat box certainly got hotter and hotter when the clouds cleared and the sun was in full force from 1pm.

No one comes for a night class so I’m all set to head to bed early. Tomorrow I head on the Harpy Eagle trek, 3 hours there and 3 hours back. It’s about 6km through the rainforest. I’m sure it will be fairly warm but
Follow the leaderFollow the leaderFollow the leader

Walking through the thin trails in the thick forest behind Rudy.
I am excited to give it crack. Asthma puffer – check, mosquito repellent – check, bottles of water – Check!

Saturday 7th September 2013

Woke up at 3am. I must have been far too excited about going on this new adventure. I’m all ready for breakfast which is meant to be 5:30am but doesn’t happen till 6am. At least South American time isn’t as bad as Africa where 5:30am actually means 10am.

Together with Rudy, his wife and his daughter Wanda, Russian and Winston, we head out onto the river and take the boat ride for about 25 minutes to the lake. Because it’s wet season the lake joins onto the river. In the dry season, as the water goes down a beach appears where the villagers will often camp out overnight on. This particular spot is used as the village farming area where they grow cassava. Rudy’s family stay here while we start on the journey through the rainforest at around 7:15am.

It was estimated that it would take 3 hours to get there and 3 hours back at a slow walk with a couple hours viewing of the chick and waiting for the Harpy Eagle mother to come through. They talk about the possibility of seeing the parents bringing a monkey over for the chick at feeding time. I also have to edit the previous entry, I got the sizings wrong…. I think it’s about 3ft tall with a 5-6ft wingspan. But anyway, I focus on the task at hand and follow Rudy through the rainforest, weaving in and out between the thick trees. He’s going much faster than this slow pace, but I think they were just seeing what my tolerance would be like. Later on they tell me its 3 hours for an older person, ie 60+. Surely they didn’t think I was that unfit!!! I keep up with them all the way through and when Rudy asks if I want a break I say lets keep going. I think the adrenaline pushes me to go at this faster pace and I enjoy every minute of it. In the end, it took us only 2 hours to get to the Harpy Eagle site and on the way back, it was only 1 hour 40 mins.

On our way up, we see the bushmaster group in their little camp and it looks like they have had a fun time. They have a perfect spot next to small creek and they invite me to come with them fishing for piranhas but I’m unsure if I should seeing as I will be working at the school for the next week and want to maximise my time. After a short break we walk for another 40 mins to the Harpy Nest and it takes a little bit of time for them to make their way round the tree and find the best vantage point. We setup a little sitting spot and it the packed lunch and juice that Audrey and Junita have provided for us. I wolf down the food after that hot walk through the rainforest. We sit back and relax and begin the wait for the mother or father Harpy to come back. Unfortunately my camera doesn’t quite get the view of the little grey Harpy chick in all its fuzziness. But I do get to have a look using the binoculars and it is absolutely adorable.

I let Russian know that I am heading off for a little wee
Halfway pointHalfway pointHalfway point

Already looking too tired for selfies.
break and begin to walk away. I walk not even 30 metres and do my business. As I head back to what I think is the resting spot, I completely lose my bearings. In the thick forest, I can’t even see Russian in his orange shirt and I take my room slowly turning around to find the big harpy tree. I still can’t even find it and realise that I am lost. I start to panic a little but kick myself back into gear and put it into perspective that I didn’t walk that far away and that they team are such excellent trackers, they would find me in no team if I was really far out. So I call out to Russian and it turns out he is so close and I had walked and was facing the wrong direction. I easily make it back to Russian and begin to appreciate how is easy it would be to get lost in here.

We hang out at nest for about 2.5 hours but we never see the adults. But I do get to some beautiful red billed Toucans right above the tree I sit under but they I move to fast for my camera and they fly away. There are also the huge butterflies making circles around me and a whole host of other insects arrive which I avoid looking at too closely! Eventually it’s time to leave and we make our way round to the otherside of the tree where the Germans from Bushmaster group are sitting – they have a better view of nest with newly made seats, but they don’t have a view of actual chick like our side.

Coming back from the Harpy, the heat is so much hotter. The sun is up and I am running out of water after drinking two of the bottles. A slight headache begins but I know that it won’t take long to get back to the boat. On the way back through Russian and Winston call out that that the Jaguar camera is right in front of me. The Bushmaster had set up a sensor video camera to see if they could film the jaguar. Instead, they get a video of me putting my hands up saying, where is it? I don’t see it then eventually spotting it! Clearly – not a jaguar…..
Bushmaster groupBushmaster groupBushmaster group

Viewing area for the Harpy Eagle

By the time we make it back to the boat, I feel so dehydrated and my feet are a little tender and I almost fall asleep on the boat back. We get back to the lodge at around 5pm and they have a late lunch ready for us. I can’t eat food but I down 3 glasses of the lime juice and in no time, the headache has gone. I head for a cold shower then onto the hammock – instantly fall asleep and wake up in time just for dinner.

It’s time for sleep at 7pm. I’m officially an old lady at 29….

Sunday 8th September

Today I have a new job as Housekeeper / Kitchen hand. It should be a rest day but considering I did the trek, I am more than happy to help as the lodge will have 10 government guests coming through at about 3:30pm and will stay overnight. They are spending the morning and lunch at the village down the river, Apoteri, then coming up here. It was all last minute as they had only advised management on Monday. Luckily the supply run had already been done from when Russian came to pick me up on Tuesday so there was enough food.

My legs aren’t aching from the trek yesterday but I did have one tiny little blister that I had to fix up. It’s strange how one tiny little thing on your heel can hurt so much to touch! I’m also getting really sick and tired of these malaria dreams too. They make me feel like I am bonkers.

I have spent the entire day cleaning and I honestly don’t know how Lucy does it! It’s so hot that as soon as you do anything, ie move 10 steps at a relatively quick pace, the heat just makes you perspire like you had been jogging in a giant oven. Today I swept the rooms, raked the leaves, cleaned the walls and banisters and made up the mosquito beds. 15 in total. Well, technically 7 and Lucy did the other 8. I’ve also been shifted out of my benab for the night while these guests are here and am in the little room in the building that’s supposed to be the staff housing. Rudy has gone
Line upLine upLine up

The kids line up by age group to get some cassava bread and rupununi peanut butter and a fresh cup of orange juice.
off to Lethem this afternoon to deal with the bank tomorrow. Currently, I am in a hammock on the veranda as I type watching all the birds fly by as we come to dusk. I am totally in love with the beauty of this place.

The government guests come through quickly then get back on the boat to head to Apoteri. They are very late and I’m afraid I’m not too much help for the Kitchen staff. It turns out, the guests arrived at 8pm and headed straight to the village for a meeting that went on till midnight. They ate dinner at 12am then had breakfast at 5:30am. Poor Junita and Audrey only had 3 hours sleep by the time they got home then wake up to get back here to cook breakfast. Meanwhile, I slept like a baby on the otherside of the lodge.

Monday 9th September 2013

It’s my First day at the school and I feel a little nervous. After my shower, I walk back to the room and step on something soft and squishy. Suddenly this intense pain appears and I hobble back to the room
Me and TroyMe and TroyMe and Troy

At school with one of my grade 6 students
and look at the bottom to find a black spike in the sole of my foot. They pain just grows and grows until my foot actually goes numb and I walk over to Audrey. She inspects my foot and tells me I have mashed a honey bee! They are all over the grass, especially in the morning so I take note to be careful each morning. There’s now a big lump on the sole of my foot that feels as hard as a rock, with a little pain. Ah. She’ll be right.

I ride the bike over with Russian leaves me with the head master (Felix) for the day. I spend the day just observing the methods of their school day and he takes me over to the running track while they measure the track for the school sports on Friday. A lot of the community are out hoeing and mowing the overgrown grass and I’m a little unsure if it’s efficient for me to stand around in the field and should I be with the kids helping with their reading. I’m only at the school for the week but I am sure I can make a
Running TrackRunning TrackRunning Track

The overgrown running track. The locals are all cutting the grass back in time for the house sports.
(positive) impact at some point. I also see Nita at the Health clinic which is right next to the school. At 11:30am it’s time for lunch and I head back to the lodge – time goes by way too fast for the short hour and rush back on the bike and sweat like an absolute beast.

It’s time to teach my first class – computers with the Grade 6 children. Wanda is in the class (Rudy’s daughter) and I’m looking forward to getting to know her. The boys in the class head out to get the computers and we move all the desks out to trees and place ourselves under the mango tree. The kids do already know how to turn it on and do the basics so I decide then and there to teach word. There are only 2 computers for a class of 8 so I decide to bring my laptop tomorrow to give them a better chance of having a go. They do the basics of writing a sentence and changing the font to Bold, Italics and Underline, font colour changes etc. It’s not long before class is over and we head back in to do class nominations for the school government. I’m disappointed because the only girl to be nominated is Wanda. The boys are also a little bit naughty – but I suspect they might be trying to impress with the bad boy routine. School is over and I come back at 2:30pm for a nice rest in the hammock and I spend the afternoon thinking of what to teach them next.

Then, its already time for visitors. I chat with Lucy’s husband, Dennis who is one of the Boat Captains but he is looking after the home and kids while Lucy is on duty for the two week. Nita comes for a night class and this time she wants to learn how to use word so she can write a report on her work at the health centre. I peek over behind me and Audrey is watching over so I make a point to ensure I spend some time with her. Later on, after dinner, I lie in the hammock and just watch Audrey on the laptop and she navigates through word herself after watching Nita’s lesson. I let Audrey play around and only ask questions when I

Only blackboards keep the different classes separate, which makes it hard to teach and not distract the other students.
think she is struggling.

Then Russian asks for help in work related document – set up new templates etc. He thinks of many questions to ask and I think he now realises how much I actually know about MS Office and we set my first task for the next week such as creating a powerpoint for a presentation he is due to give in October.

There’s loads of thunder and lighting, and the rain finally appears at 10pm and it buckets down. Finally I can cool down after the intense heat the previous week.

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23



This is the nursery but the kids were sent home after the rain and we moved the Grade 6 computer class into here.
Adult LessonsAdult Lessons
Adult Lessons

Juanita and Audrey making tables in MS Word.

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