The Joys of Transportation

Karanambu Ranch Diane McTurk

Today is my last full day in Guyana. I actually got up early because the rooster was crowing for what seemed like hours on end. I looked through the slats in my window and saw the sun coming up, big, bright and red. I may as well get some final shots of the place.

Karanambu Ranch Diane McTurk

Karanambu Ranch Diane McTurk

The sun shone through the mango tree like a big fireball. Unfortunately the pictures didn’t do it justice. The fog hovered in the distance and the flies started buzzing. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a huge white bird fly through the compound, very low to the ground. I didn’t realize it was the jabiru. I hear Salvador call my name, “Stephanie, quick!!” I ran toward him and he pointed at the field and said, “Jabiru!” I couldn’t see it anymore and as I walked closer, it flew up into the air and took off to the river. So I quietly walked down to the river, camera on. As I approached the bank, it flew over the trees back to the field again. I ran up the road toward the field. As I looked into the tall grass, I noticed what I thought was a cat on the old runway. I paid it no attention since the stork was more important. But then it stopped and turned back to look at me and I knew it wasn’t a cat…it was the fox they have been seeing lately. I managed to get a few shots of it. It was identified as a crab eating fox, although Salvador said it has also been eating his pineapples and chickens.

It was a back and forth game with the stork and I got a picture of it flying by the windmill, but it was very far away. Then I got another one of it taking off with nesting material in its beak but that one was blurry. Oh well…at least I got to see it.

After breakfast, I showered figuring this was the last of the sweating I would do for the day. Oh how wrong I was, yet again. Salvador gave me a 15 minute warning before we had to leave to the airstrip and I was right on time. For some reason I figured it would be a three minute drive to the strip and I would be off. Andrea, Lucy and Dianne all came out to say goodbye and then I jumped in the truck and off we went down the narrow bumpy road.

Karanambu Ranch Diane McTurk

We came up to a creek with a boat sitting there. I was confused. I didn’t realize there would be water involved. We got in the boat, Salvador giving me a piggyback ride through the squishy mud. The ride was short and then we came to land. I saw a very old Range Rover sitting there. Jerry put some seat cushions in the back and my bags were set down there as well. I jump in the back and Salvador says, “no, get out…we have to push”. Aaah ok. But there wasn’t really much of a hill to jump start it. So we push. We get it up to a point where we really can’t push anymore and the driver says, “Stop!”. The brake is applied and I’m wondering what happens next. We have to now push it backward in order to start it. The driver has to steer it since it wasn’t a straight road, then jump in and try to pop the clutch. No luck.Karanambu Ranch Diane McTurk

Karanambu Ranch Diane McTurkThe truck now has to be pushed back up the small hill again and the same routine continues. On the third try Salvador says, “we may have to start walking.”. Oh this is just great! He says to me, “you see that orange thing?”. Last time I heard that, I replied I couldn’t see those little bloodsuckers and I really had to strain to see this orange thing also. I squint and see something and said, “yes?”. “That’s the airsock.”. I do NOT want to walk that far in the heat with no water. Why did I even bother showering?

Karanambu air strip

Karanambu air strip

Karanambu air strip

They try the truck again and this time it finally roared to life. Oh thank god. He keeps his foot on the gas and I’m just hoping it stays alive. Smoke pours from the exhaust and I’ve never been so glad to inhale it. The ancient door is opened for me and I hop in. I can hardly believe this truck can do anything but rot out here but glad that it does work. Good ol Rovers. The ride takes only a few minutes and I’m just hoping it keeps going. We approach the airsock and the airstrip consists of, surprise, a long red dusty stretch of road, a thatch covered seating area and an old metal wagon wheel. No check in counter here! No Guyana Airways representative to greet us or ten year old magazines to read.

I wonder where they will park the truck, since they have another guest arriving and must stay to pick him up. The driver maneuvers the truck up to a steep hill (compared to what we had to contend with) and applies the brake. Moments later the plane is seen in the distance: an on-time arrival! I film it coming in for a landing. Faces peered out of the windows wondering who in the hell are we stopping to pick up. The other guest deplaned and I got on feeling hopeful there will be no issues with this ride.

Karanambu air strip

Karanambu air strip

Luckily there were none and we land in Lethem then after a short delay take off to Ogle. I go through immigration and customs where we have some small talk about where I was and what I did. I mentioned that we looked for snakes and caiman and the guy asked me where they were now. I replied, “back in the bush, not in my luggage” and with that, he didn’t even bother to search my bags which I had opened for them. I saw a water cooler and asked if I could have a drink since I was now pretty dehydrated. Denied.

Completely over the transportation thing at this point

I get in a taxi and mention how I was not given juice on the plane or water and I was thirsty. He said there was a little cantina at the edge of the airport and I ask if they take dollars. He’s not sure but offered to pay for it and I asked how much. About 4 USD. No thanks, I’ll wait. He said there were other places along the road that are cheaper and we will stop there. Eventually he pulls up to a roadside vendor and I see bottles of water behind his cart in a cooler. He comes back to the car and asks if I want my water in a bag or do I want to drink it here. Not unfamiliar with that practice in Central America, I just say in a bag. Then I see the vendor pick up a coconut and a machete and he chops off the top. The driver grabs a long straw and brings the coconut to me. I’m actually pretty excited about this because 1) I know it’s fresh water and 2) I can’t remember ever drinking straight out of a coconut! To top it all off, its actually cold. Wow, was it great. There was a lot in there too.

The ride is a long one but I’m in no hurry to wait around at the airport. So I’m telling the driver about all of my transportation woes I’ve had here. I feel fortunate to have a/c in the car and I’m hearing his belt squeak every so often but think nothing of it. The ride is about an hour long and I see a sign to the airport. 3km to go. The belt made a loud sound and the driver says, “Oh no…the fan belt just broke. This is a veeeery bad vacation for you. And we are only minutes from the airport.” We coast as long as we can before pulling off on the side of the road. He says he will get me another car. He pops the hood then comes back and tries to start the car. Nothing. I’m no longer surprised at anything anymore and just take it in stride. At least I have time to kill. Seconds later, another taxi pulls up behind us and the driver pays him about 5 dollars to take me the rest of the way. That is what I had tipped him with the coconut included.

Thankfully I didn’t have to walk to the stupid airport and arrived in plenty of time to wait in the very short line which took at least 40 minutes to get through. All I can do is shake my head now. I am off to Trinidad and hopefully nothing else will happen along the way. I’m glad I changed my flight to leave a day earlier or I may never have gotten out of here!

Jabiru nest

Karanambu Ranch

 

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