Fatty Water Remote Camp

Fatty Water Remote Camp
Burro Burro River at Remote Camp

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 04, 2014

Safe and sound at the Caiman house!! We have arrived in one piece at this research center at Yupukari. Our journey started off staying up Wednesday night and left Thursday at 13:30 a.m. Instead of taking a big truck on the 14hr trek to the interior, we were crowed in a mini van and Roop’s off-road truck.

Easy travel on good blacktop road (Linden Highway) travelling up to 70mph. That is NOT an exaggeration. Morale was high when we left because we were traveling on pavement, listening to loud, bumping music, laughing and singing with our friends. It was quite an adrenaline rush!! However, after hour 3, morale was lowered. The road transitioned from pavement to the red soil dirt (laterite) of the rainforest trail. It was slow going with plenty of pot holes and muddy stretches. 

We made it to the Kupakari crossing where the vehicles drove and we walked on to barge to cross the Essiquibo River.  Another two hours and we arrived at the Atta Lodge Canopy walk.

After showering and eating lunch, we got to do the canopy walk. Our tour guide, an Amerindian named John, stopped and explained a few trees before we climbed up to the canopy. He pointed out a greenheart tree. Its seeds could cure headaches and malaria. He also pointed out a tree that was poisonous saying, “If you were to cut the bark, milky substance would come out. If it were to get into your eye or open cut, you would die in 10 to 15 minutes.”

There were stairs to the top of the canopy.  There were 4 platforms and cable bridges that connected them. Up to 10 people were allowed to stand on a platform at one time and only 1 person was allowed to cross the bridge at one time. We were approximately 100ft in the air!!
J We  John later shared that the canopy apparatus was built in 30 days. He did not say how many people were on the crew to build it but he did say that they would shoot an arrow and pull themselves up, and that all the materials used to build the apparatus were pulled up in this same fashion… impressive!!!

The next morning we woke up and did the same walk at 5:45 a.m. The first part of the group to go on the platform got to see toucans out in the distance. This morning canopy walk was a lot more noisy than the afternoon walk. The birds are quite chatty in the early morning.

Several of us discussed at breakfast that we were woke in the middle of the night by howler monkeys. You can imagine how they got their name. They are loud creatures. John the tour guide said that he had guessed they were a mile away. John also informed us that howler monkeys usually travel in groups of 5-7.

It was a nice stay at the Atta Lodge but we quickly packed up and hit the road again. About a mile away we got stuck in the soft mud. The picture below shows us getting back in the van after Roop’s Toyota truck backed up and towed the van out of the mud. 

Since being at the Caiman House, we’ve gotten settled in. There are Amerindians and a Canadian named Mike that run the place. All are very soft-spoken, kind, and extremely good at cooking. J Yesterday 3 Amerindians took us on a quick tour of the surrounding area. We stopped at the river, and stopped at a British fellow’s house named Ashley. He currently lives here in Guyana and Dr. Ventullo said he has made appearances on the River Monsters TV show!! The best part of yesterday though, was when Ashley allowed us to hold his “pet” Caiman!! Ashley said whenever he goes to the river, his children ask him to bring some Caiman back. It sounded like he does release them back to the wild but the children like to play with them for a few days. Nevertheless, everyone in the group got to hold one. Of course we took pictures!! The 3 Caiman alligators on Ashley’s porch were 3 months old and approximately 10 inches long. They were very beautiful creatures. J

This morning we started off our day with yummy mangos, eggs, sausage, and warm bakes for breakfast. We headed off to the river where Dr. Merten,a bug, fish, and wood enthusiast was overly ecstatic that we would be putting insect traps along the river. We had 20 little wooden stakes and nailed super sticky paper to them. Without getting lost in the technicalities, we placed a stake foot in from the river and had 3 more that climbed further away from the river. We then measured 20ft downstream and placed 4 more stakes. We did this so that there was a total of 5 transects. Tomorrow we will go back and see what we caught! We will identify the insects and collect other data with the bugs. Entomology is the study of insects, in case you were wondering. Tonite small groups will go out to tag caiman.  The front boat will net hem and we get to tag and collect data on the small ones.

Hope you enjoyed this blog post!! Check back for more updates later!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29, 2014

Welcome to Georgetown!!

We have safely landed in Guyana!!  For a few days here in the capital Georgetown, we have a host stay with Roop and his family. This household is very hospitable!  Usha, Roop’s wife is a great cook!! Tonight for dinner we had some excellent chicken made with curry sauce and roti. A favorite of our group is the  juice she makes. It’s very good— essentially it’s made of cherries and sugar!!
J In Guyana, it is very humid, hot, and sunny. Fortunately, for us it has been very breezy!! As I type this to you, the group is enjoying the evening playing cards on Roop’s patio.

Last night we set up our cots and mosquito nets. The bugs aren’t too bad in the city but you can imagine once we get into the interior they will be a nuisance. Today’s adventure included: walking around the markets of Georgetown, visiting the Sea Wall, and the zoo.

Since it was dark when we first arrived, our commute into Georgetown this morning gave us a chance to see the city.  Buildings and homes in Guyana are very colorful and are often built up on stilts in order to avoid flooding from heavy rains and also stay cooler in the breeze.  We all drove in on a small bus and it was kind of nerve racking on the narrow and crowded streets.  Even in the city we passed within inches of cows and horses standing along the road! 
Exploring the markets included seeing many of the local crafts and arts.  Purpleheart wood sculptures, paintings, and leather sandals were very common.  After looking around the shops, we visited the Sea Wall.  The wall was only a few feet high and we were able to walk down to take pictures by the ocean.  Unfortunately, the beaches of Georgetown are quite muddy and garbage piles up at the Sea Wall.  On our way back from the Sea Wall we stopped at the zoo and saw many animals native to Guyana that we had previously talked about in class.  Since the zoo was so small we got a much closer look at Caiman alligators, huge Harpy eagles and a sloth! We even got to see a few cougars, monkeys, and beautifully colored macaws. Guyana is even home to the giant river otter, which was present at the zoo as well.

Outside of traveling, this was our first real day! Our group gets along great, there’s lot of joking and laughter. 
J At midnight tomorrow, we will take a 10-16 hour journey to the interior of the lush rainforest of Guyana where we will spend the rest of the trip. We look forward to the adventure!! WISH US LUCK!!! J

Heidi and April (with help from the rest of the gang)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

You've found the spot to follow the 2014 Wartburg College Guyana May Term crew. We'll post here as internet opportunities arise in May. We'll be in the country starting April 28, 2014 so start checking here then.


Welcome to the Wartburg Guyana May Term blog.