The life and times of the Victoria Amazonica

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South America » Guyana » North Rupununi » Rewa
September 23rd 2013
Published: September 24th 2013
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Saturday 21st September 2013

Saturday is just another normal working day. We have another 2 guests that have arrived, a mother and daughter team from the UK. They are a lovely pair and it’s good to have some guests again. Unlike most of the other guests that stay 2 nights, they are staying 3 nights in Rewa. I personally think you would need 4 or 5 days to really see the whole of Rewa but still, 3 nights is a good effort!

For dinner, Toria decides we should try rum and lime juice and it sure does go down a treat. I am going to have to bring a few bottles of El Dorado rum back home with me. A few glasses go down a treat and I feel so happy I can barely sleep. After not drinking much at all while I’m up here and also being on the Malaria tablets, I don’t think my body readily accepts this alcohol and I think I possibly may be too drunk to fall asleep.

Sunday 22nd September 2013

This morning I woke up in a bit of a daze. Ermelinta
The damn fresh coldThe damn fresh coldThe damn fresh cold

gets everyone
woke us up for an early breakfast with the other guests and I bolt straight up and yell out, I’m awake, I’m awake but I am actually not awake at all! It’s the El Dorado speaking. I am so hazy and a bit hung over, it’s terrible. But I get on with the day. After breakfast, I head back to bed to watch some episodes of Archer and fall back asleep. I wake up to Russian who thinks I’m awake and again I do the I’m awake, I’m awake.. but not really. He asks for help to offload everything from the supply boat as they came in at 11:30pm last night. I struggle to carry everything into the kitchen and sweat like a beast but I eventually get through all of it. It’s straight back to lying in bed and Archer… and some more sleep time again.

When I wake up, I feel this kind of itch on the inside of my knee. I try not to take any notice of it and head over to the hammock to relax some more before lunch with Toria and the itch begins to burn. I keep ignoring it and after an hour I show Toria because area of itch has grown a lot more and I don’t think it’s a mosquito bite. She has a look and thinks it might be a spider bite, but looks a little worried. I’m ok with it all, no point in panicking yet so at lunch we ask Ken (one of the guides) if he knows what it is. He mentions the type of spider it’s is but that it’s not lethal. He says that it will get bigger and then make my leg black and blue so then I ask, well, will it kill me? And he says no, so now I have no worries about it all. The sting of the poison is actually fairly painful and I can feel it in my whole leg, not just my knee area but after the guests give me some cream and anti-histamines, the pain goes away. Throughout the day, the swelling goes away and you can clearly see the bite mark and where the poison is. It’s a purple grey colour and has a blister on the top part. Shouldn’t take too long for it to go down though.

For the rest of the day, we just watch videos on the laptops and completely veg out. It’s tough working all day 6 days a week on the computer in the heat. But certainly nothing in comparison to the work that everyone else does here, so I feel guilty being so lazy, but I take the opportunity. The guys have also finished with the roof of the two huts and they have done a great job. Now that it’s complete, I am no longer having the allergies either. Ah, I’ve been in the wars – eaten alive by mosquitos, stung by a honey bee, bitten by a spider and allergic reaction to the kukrit tree. I’ve also lost a bit of weight while here because I’m not snacking all day like at home – but this part is a good thing!

Monday 23rd September 2013

Last Monday in Rewa, it’s turning into panic stations that I won’t have everything done by the time I leave. I can only do my best and get most of it done and then pass it onto the next volunteer. This kids are also playing in their interhouse sports so
I am looking forward to watching them all run and compete against each other. I wish that I had more time to spend with the kids as well as doing this office work, but we can’t be everywhere at once.

After a bit of time at home, we make our way over to the racing track and the kids are already in full swing. We have missed the opening ceremony but we can already see the competition between the Harpy Eagles (Blue) and the Jaguars (Red). They have these awesome flags they have made, like a badge of honour with a logo. Toria is going for the Harpy and I am the Jaguar. We take a few photos and videos and then I get in amongst the Jaguar team to pep them up for the long jump competition. And then it’s time for lunch and the kids disperse and we head back down to the lodge.

During lunch the guests, Val and Frances, tell us about their adventures fishing and they will be heading to grass pond later on in the afternoon to watch the blooming of the Victoria Amazonica lily. They sweetly offer
The opening to get to grass pondThe opening to get to grass pondThe opening to get to grass pond

This place was still flooded so we could get the boat all the way through to grass pond, otherwise you would walk through the swampy area.
to let me join them on the tour considering it’s my last week here. At first I hesitate because I feel bad that I might “compromise their wilderness experience”*** but I end up agreeing when I realise it will be much easier for the staff here if I go with them rather than rush at the end of the week.

At 4:30pm we head out up the Rewa River. In dry season, you would get to this little inlet on the edge of the river and walk through the rainforest to get to Grass Pond but because the river is still so flooded, we can take the boat all the way through to Grass Pond, about 15 minutes. Once we pass the dug out canoe and through the entrance, it’s slow going, winding through these tall trees and vines, where had the water not been there, we would be 2-4 metres up in the air! Every now and again, we get to dead ends and Dennis (the boat captain/Lucy’s husband) and Ken (the guide) has to get the machete and hack down some dead branches until we can pass. It looks like hard work and there’s not
Dennis cutting down dead treesDennis cutting down dead treesDennis cutting down dead trees

so we can get through the area
much us 3 ladies can do at this point to help. After about 30 minutes getting through, we come to the ultimate dead end. The entrance to grass pond is completely blocked by a couple fallen and very large trees. It gets to the point that Ken has to get out of the boat and push us over a series of logs and then we are finally passed the fallen trees and in Grass Pond.

Grass Pond is truly a beautiful place. The sun is just about to start going down and the birds are flying all over the place. There are some plants growing on the edge of the river and they come all the way out so at times it’s a narrow channel to get through. There a many giant lily pads everywhere, green on top and red underneath. Not all of the lily pads seem to have a flower against them but eventually we see the white Victoria Amazonica. It’s a little too early in the sunset to begin watching this one open so we keep moving forward and Ken spots another flower and we settle to watch the flower bud open. It can take 15 to 30 minutes for the flower to open so we might be in for a bit of a wait.

As we begin to watch, Ken tells us some information about the eco-system and how the flower develops. When the flower is closed and looks like a bud, the flower is a male and at sunset it will begin to open. Through the night many bees will fly their way into the middle where the pollen is but only one bee will connect with the flower. At some stage during the night, the flower will close again with the bee inside. The next day, during sunset again the bud will open and release the bee. From this point onwards the flower is a female. It will eventually turn pink and then expires to rot away amongst the lily pad and then a new flower will grow to replace the previous one and the cycle begins again.

Our flower opens in about 20 mins. They don’t open up all the way but it does look beautiful. It’s getting harder to see as the sun has gone and the moon is moving its way up. It’s getting almost too dark to see anything. Off in the distance we can see a big cloud with lighting striking inside every 30 seconds. It’s a beautiful sight to see but it also looks menacing like it will make its way towards our boat. When we head back into the flooded part, we stop at various spots along Grass Pond to see the Caiman. Ken shines his torch around and you can see these orangey-red glowing eyes peering out at you, just above the surface of the water. Sometimes, the closer you get, the quicker they hide. Other seem to think they are camouflaged enough that you won’t notice they are there, but we outsmart them. We get up close to about 3 of them at various sizes. None of them as big as Freddie by the Rewa boat landing. The first is an adult but only about a metre long, the next is smaller and approximately 2 years old and the other is just a little baby and about 50cm long. This one is very cute and Ken reaches down to grab him to show us and let us feel it. I’m too scared to carry it myself, last time a held a baby crocodile, I almost dropped him so didn’t want to make the same mistake. This little caiman is so docile, pretending to be dead and we feel the scales on the top and the soft but strong belly underneath. After we are done, Ken sets him back in the water and the baby caiman still pretends that he’s dead, legs out in all different directions as if you had swatted him like a pesky fly. The engine begins again and then he finally scurries away.

The night sky is so full of beautiful stars, and the rain cloud still out in the distance but going through the swampy area is just pitch black. We have to get back over the fallen logs again and both Ken and Dennis get out of the boat and I keep thinking the caiman aren’t too far away and don’t want their legs to be nibbled on! I’m hardly any help either but try by shining the torch on where they are standing so they can get their footing right. We mosy on through the trees again, tracing back the steps we took on our way in until we come across to trees quite close together and then we are stuck…. No reversing can even get us out of this and Ken keeps joking that we will have to stay here the night. No way! Not with all these mosquitos! We are stuck for about 20 minutes and I can hear the thunder creeping closer and closer to us. After a bit of hacking against the tree, we are finally unwedged and can continue to make our way back to Rewa River. Throughout the pitch black, Ken continues to shine the light and there are so many glowing eyes staring back at us. They are spiders and snakes but it’s getting late and the storm is coming closer. The strange wind that Toria and I heard the other day is back so it’s sounds like it will be a big one again.

Eventually, we are back on the river again and see another larger caiman, who just as we approach, quickly dives into the water. Then it’s full steam down the river, being chased by this storm. Just as we approach the landing it starts the rain starts to lightly spit. We all get out of the boat and walk across the yard and just as I step onto the benab, the rain buckets down. Great timing!!!!

After dinner, it’s time for bed and I can stop thinking about how fun that little adventure was. I can’t wait to get some better internet access so that I can post all the pictures for you to see. Trying to describe it is so hard and photos won’t even do it justice.

*** Direct quote/saying from the adventures of Toria and Matt!

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