I have just had the pleasure to meet Diane, who flew in from Georgetown. Sporting her new round glasses, an otter t-shirt and a waterproof wristwatch, looking way too large on her delicate wrist. Tall and thin, she spoke with a soft British accent that sounded so graceful. Eating crackers with marmalade, Dr. Lucy and Andrea talked about the future of Karanambu and the possible grant they may receive to help with the tourism development in this area. There is a need for conservation of the arapaima which could easily become overfished. However, the rules in place now seem to be working and the Amerindians want to cooperate in the management which is a good sign.
Diane is famous for her head scarves. Almost every picture or video I have seen of her, she wears one. I brought her down two, one of which is quite large but she seemed to really like it. She graciously opened her arms to hug me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then thanked me repeatedly with a big smile on her face. She made me feel as though I was the only guest that had ever been there.
I was fortunate enough to join Lucy and Diane to look for giant otters this afternoon, which I would never have expected. We left around 4pm and cruised along the hot river to the same spot they were seen earlier. No such luck though. Then we went into the lake…a different one than I had seen previously. There were big lily pads here too and Diane requested the motor be shut off so we could creep through. I sat there simmering in the sun, yet Diane didn’t seem bothered by it. Of course, we all go along with whatever she wants to do. None of us would be here if it weren’t for her.
She had her bird book handy and was constantly flipping through it, identifying ones she wasn’t sure of. I was surprised…I figured after living on the river most of her life she would know them by heart. I asked if she always enjoys going out on the river. “Oh yes! There is always something different here to see.” She often shared the pictures with me and told stories of the birds.
Jerry spotted an iguana on the bank with a hawk in the tree nearby eyeing it. I snapped a picture of the iguana as we approached it and I was surprised at how close we actually were. It finally got spooked and ran. As we passed the hawk, he stared at us with the evil eye. I was stunned he didn’t swoop down on us just to get even.
Pairs of parrots flew overhead as the sun went down and we found ourselves back on the river, heading home. She once again wanted to “creep” and figured now would be a good time for some rum punch. Dr. Lucy asked her if she wanted just a little bit of juice and she replied, “Yes, just a bit thank you”, then turned to me and said, “how about you? Just a bit of juice?” I agreed and the tall metal cups were passed out amongst us as we crept.
The sunset was spectacular as usual and the birds wrapped up their evening. We told stories and Diane talked about the habits of otters. I asked where they live in the rainy season, since they typically build their dens on the banks. “That is what we would all like to know”, she replied. Otter cams are out of the question since they could get hung up on things and they would have to anesthetize them to implant a chip. She told me that they like to snuggle together at night so they probably don’t sleep in the trees either.
We made it back to the lodge and as we were walking back up, she told me the story about her orphan otter Rewa. Apparently Rewa left Karanambu and was harassing some fishermen so Diane went to try and get her back after a couple of other attempts. Diane brought fish to coax Rewa back. There was another otter family nearby also and when Rewa took the fish, she offered it to the family instead which they took. Rewa had been accepted into the family! There was no need to take her back home. Mission accomplished.
Before dinner, I went to the dining room and saw a new book on the table. It was named something like Wildlife Heroes and Diane had been written up in it, with a nice colorful spread of the otters and a story about her mission. Diane emerged from her quarters wearing the pink and black scarf I gave her on her head and a long sleeve pink blouse. She looked lovely! I took her picture as she held the new book in her lap. Salvador requested that I send in my pictures I took during my stay so they can put them on their new website, which obviously I am thrilled to do. What a great way to end this trip!
EDIT: I’m sad to report that in December 2016, Diane passed away peacefully in Guyana. She was an asset to Guyana and lived a fantastic, full life. I’m even more touched to have had the chance to meet this wonderful woman and spend time with her.