Marge, the rains are 'ere

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South America » Guyana » North Rupununi » Rewa
September 21st 2013
Published: September 21st 2013
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Monday 16th September 2013 – halfway

It’s a usual day back at work and it’s onto those projects I left behind from the first week of the trip. I head over into the room – which is already getting a little bit on the hot side – and get started on the work. I’m still attempting to build them a quote document which will make it easier to quote as well as being more consistent with pricing. All the bookings clerk will need to do is plug in the number of guests (or in their terms PAX), the number of nights they are staying and then yes or no to the 3 options of tours available. But due to some of their more complex/strange pricing, it is making it difficult to then divide between the number of guests to get an individual cost with additional tax and village cost etc. Anyway, it seems easy but is actually quite complicated. Before I leave, this will be a major achievement for me! I’ve also finalised the attendance register which will assist Clarice when making payments for wages. The wage will be calculated from the number of the days the person worked.

I’m pleasantly distracted by Russian’s fiancée, Marceline, and give her a quick overview of how to use word. She already uses the program now for her work but in the most basic format so she asks a few questions and I show her how to do those things. I recommend she bring a copy of her report to me and we can work together on how she can enhance the report to become more appealing to the reader. Then after lunch, it’s onto helping Clarice with how to use excel. Clarice is less able with the computers but she is a very willing and eager student. I’m surprised that when I teach her formulas she finds it much easier than adding a border and changing colours of the cells.

At some stage I’m interrupted with Clarice to see a rare monkey that has appeared at the edge of the river where the Rewa boats sit. They are the Guyana Saki which is incredibly rare to see. They are high up in the trees and they look just as curious about us as we are of them. There are a small family of about 5 and they spend about 10 minutes with us before heading back up the river in search of fruits. Again, too high up (5 metres up) and too quickly to take a shot. We are starting to think that the two guests that arrive, Andrea and Chris, are the good luck charm to get the animals to come out. They are a lovely couple from the UK who are well travelled, so no wonder the animals want to get a glimpse of them to our benefit.

In no time, the day is over for them and I head over to my benab to go back to my normal workload in a much cooler space. The problem is that the hammock is now looking much more appealing than staring at a computer……

Before bed, as Toria and I have a little chat, I hear something jump up onto the chair and it’s a little treefrog. We take a bunch of photos of and then it jumps onto the wall and just stays there for sleep time, just like us.

Tuesday 17th - September 2013

This morning, people from the village have come to the lodge early to start work on re-thatching the roof of two of the cabins. They call this activity self-help, meaning if there are any projects required anywhere within the village, including the lodge, the community members gather together to work on the project. The youth from the Progressive Youth Organisation also come along to help, but this is not paid work, it is community work.

The normal work day goes on but this time it’s quite a hot day and I manage to get out onto one of the benab verandahs to take in some breeze – but it’s mostly a hot breeze! It also gives me a chance to watch the progress of the new roof which happens so quickly. There are also these amazing butterflies about that seem to play a form of follow the leader. They are pretty wonderful to watch flittering about. Everytime I try to take video they go away and then come back when I’ve turned off the recording! Very annoying!!

This week is already starting to go too quickly with only 11 days left of my time in Rewa as of tomorrow L

Wednesday 18th September 2013

Today we said goodbye to Andrea and Chris who are off onto their next Guyana adventure at Surama Lodge which is where I will be headed to at the end after the Rewa stay for one night. I will get a chance to go down the Burro Burro river which is a lot thinner and more enclosed than the wide Rewa river. The Rewa river water has gone down so much in the last 2 weeks, there is actually a drop down to the river now from where it was flooded over and past the bank. During breakfast I could see Freddie lurking in the background, I guess waiting for someone to bring him some food. I’ve since found out that Freddie had a mate but something had happened and they had to “remove” her. I’ve heard a couple different version of the story so I am not quite sure on that result.

The men have started work on putting the branches up onto the roof which looks very tiring, compared with Toria and I sitting at the desk in the shade! I’ve been having very bad sinus problems since they started gathering the Kukrit palm leaves (also referred to as The Tree of Life) from the rainforest. It’s been a terrible time for my head but nothing some sinus tablets can’t solve. The leaves are a bright yellow colour which eventually will dry up in the sun and become the traditional looking brown colour. The particular design of the cabin roof means the leaves have to be replaced every 3 years compared to the benabs which have a different style of thatching and require change every 5 years.

On a side note, a lot of people here have being getting the flu and for some it has been lasting for a month. They actually refer to it as a fresh cold. Toria is right in the middle of one and the locals keep asking if I also have a fresh cold, but I tell them it’s just hayfever. I’m definitely going to start using that as a phrase – fresh cold. At times, it seems to border on sounding like the western Man Flu……

During lunch I see a whole load of the butterflies down by the river so I went down to have a look and they all just flew around me. It almost felt a little magical, like a scene from Disney. If I keep stll long enough in the hot sun, the butterflies all settle down and I can take a few photos of them.

Dicky (the other lodge manager) comes by for an afternoon lesson and needs some help with word. Currently he does the monthly financial statements in word rather than excel and he also uses word to work on floorplans for the various buildings. I teach him how to make 3-D shapes on word and to rotate text around which is exactly what he was hoping for. Hopefully this makes it easier for him to be the architect of the village. I’ll have to setup some other excel sheets for him to do his financing as a template and guide him on how to use it.

And that is Wednesday.

Thursday 19th September 2013

Today was a pretty standard day. A bit more work for the office then in the afternoon some one on one time with Clarice. It’s a little funny, she has picked up writing formulas in excel really easily but when it comes to doing borders, she keeps forgetting where to go! She must definitely have a more mathematical mind than artistic mind. I’ve given her a little verbals steps and she has been pretty good and knows where to go.

The guys continue work on the hut, about 95% done, just the top part/spine of the roof to be covered.

Later after the work day has ended, Dicky comes by to have his afternoon lesson. He needs some help with a few more things so we go through how to make a pamphlet and how to print and both sides (for the church hymn book) and a recap on shapes. Again, I will have to start the pamphlet and then it’s up to them to finish. I want to avoid coming here and actually completing things because it gives them less opportunity to learn how to do things which is essentially why I am here. In saying that, I don’t want to start something and it never be completed so I feel torn between the two ideas.

Toria cracks open the beers for us 3 and Dicky tells us more stories about the various tribes like the wai-wai who are closer to the border of Brazil down south. The wai-wai still keep to traditions and don’t wear western clothing or rely on any western ideas. They have kept a good hold of their traditional ways of life. In Rewa, they are all Makushi and unfortunately in Rewa they no longer have a shaman, unlike other Makushi villages. In saying that, Rewa is a fairly new village that was created when Dicky’s great-grandfather (or maybe older than that) came here in the 1950’s. So the Alvins were the first family, then the Edwards and now other common surnames are Igancio and Honorio. You can find most kids have surnames of these four families.

It’s a full moon tonight and the sky is so clear. The light from the moon is keeping the grounds of the lodge so bright at night, you don’t even need a torch. Of course in my half asleep state, I forget to take a photo.

Friday 20th September 2013

TGIF! Even though I still have to work tomorrow….. The guys have started work on the roof of the second cabin. They have gathered more leaves from the rainforest but this time they have to extra hands from the self help group to assist. This will take them a lot longer to get started on thatching the roof.

After lunch the electricity goes off and it’s time for a little nap in the hammock. Romeo comes by for a lesson on computers but the electricity is still off. He gets Nelson to turn on the solar power and it’s nice to have the peace and quiet rather than the generator blasting all this noise. I show Romeo through his new email account on gmail and he picks it all up very quickly. I have his email working out of Internet Explorer and my email out of Firefox so he can actively see how the emails are composed and replied, forwarded etc. We go through the whole motion of also signing out and starting from the very beginning. I only have to prompt him a couple times but essentially he gets it all. After the lesson I mention to Toria that sometimes I feel like I might be talking down to adult learners but she gives me the confidence I need that I am doing a good and have a good way of teaching and being descriptive or using people the student would know when talking about various situations. We come to the conclusion that maybe that’s why I have adults coming down to have lesson in the afternoon and night!

After a quick cold shower to escape the heat, I get back to the normal work and it’s not long before I am distracted by a strange hollow sound coming from far away. It sounds like a big sound travelling it’s way down the Rewa River towards us. It’s hard to describe but it’s the quiet before the storm. A haunting sound that I imagine a tidal wave would sound like, a slow rumble backed by some strong wind pushing all the trees in one direction. The sound gets closer and closer and the sky begins to get darker and darker and the wind becomes stronger and stronger. Toria and I both look at each, we both know it’s a storm but half expect a river tidal wave to come past. Sheena runs over to our working benab desk and tells us she accidently put a pepper in the river and the river gods are mad. In makushi culture they believe that if you throw chilli/peppers in the river or wash dishes with peppers on it the River gods become upset. There are variations to the story like it begins to rain with the tears of the gods. Either way, Sheena must have put some large hot peppers in the river for it to storm this much! After about 20 minutes, the rain begins to die down and it seems like the storm is over for now. The birds have all come out again and the insects are all buzzing as if nothing had happened. It was almost a magic storm. The temperature completely changes and its far too cold in shorts and a singlet. I put on a shirt, pants and even a pair of socks. When I head to bed, it’s feels so nice and cosy to get right under the sheets, for the first time in the past three weeks.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18



Photo from Toria's files
Freddie againFreddie again
Freddie again

Photo from Toria's files

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