Thursday, 26 March 2009
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
It’s not so much their giant waspishness- their sting alone is longer than the wasps I’m used to. It’s not so much that their back ends are articulated like a lorry, or hinged like an old gate, and their legs are so long I can see the barred colour markings. It’s the way they drift aimlessly about, driving me mad with anticipation of their journey’s destination.
Still, they haven’t shown much interest in stinging. Yet.
It’s not so much the way they crawl over my hand when I fetch a clean plate from the drying rack in the evening. It’s not so much their affinity for evening darkness when I am more likely to blunder into them. It’s the way their oblivion to my shared creaturehood gives them utter confidence in barging around in, on and ALL over my personal space.
Still, at least they don’t bite.
It’s not so much the way the tiny little black specks of git-hood bite wherever you have missed with the mosiguard (knuckles are a favourite). It’s not so much the wild itching. It’s the unfairness that even though you strive mightily not to scratch, an inadvertent brushing of the bite from a worthy cause like washing up is enough to scar and itch exponentially.
Still, at least they don’t give you diseases.
The beloved female anopheles mosquito
Ah, lady of the dusk. An ode to thee becomes an odious, a paean becomes a pain. Trust D.H. Lawrence to write a poem about thee. Typical.
How can I compare thee? Bringer of malaria, whiner in the sleepless night, invader of nets, munchea indiscriminata, festermeister of infected ankle bites (poor B!)
What shall I say in thy favour? Is there no ‘still’? Nay, I fear not. Thou art ugly beyond compare in a not-at-all ladylike fashion. Thy song is like unto the worst whingeing nag. Thou bitest without discriminaton or remorse. Thy body is host to foul disease, thou spreadest pestilence literally before breakfast. I cannot find a good thing to say about thee. Verily I am off for a good sulk, throughout which I will nevertheless strive not to scratch.
Monday, 16 March 2009
We’re in Aishalton at LAST! The journey took six hours though it’s less than a hundred miles. The track is deep sand in some places, ugly rutted rocky or gravelly in others. It goes across or through countless creeks. When I say some of them are surprisingly deep, I mean we went into them in rear wheel drive and were surprised to find we couldn’t come out again! Father Paul Dominic, a diminutive Indian ascetic philosopher of 68 years old, climbed out and waded round to engage the four-wheel drive on each front wheel every time we were surprised. We arrived happy but less than fresh.
We’re moving in in three stages. First, four days in the Jesuit Presbytery. Then a few weeks in the government hostel, guarded by the foursquare efficient distant-smiling Petronella. And then into a little house of our own.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Everything I do is a digression. Look at the meandering, unfocussed oxbow of a blog entry I've just wound round the back passages of your poor bewildered brain! But a digression from what? I've just read Albert Schweitzer's extraordinary "On the Edge of the Primeval Forest", an autobiography of his time in West Africa. He had a grand purpose; to cure the diseases of the Black Man. It's full of wonderful good sense- "in the tropics a man can do at most half of what he can manage in a temperate climate" alongside the ingrained racism of his time- "the negro is a child, and with children nothing can be done without the use of authority. We must, therefore, so arrange the circumstances of daily life that my natural authority can find expression". Schweitzer has been a bit of a hero of mine for a while, but I do not envy him his terrible clarity of purpose.
Saturday, 7 March 2009
(B's favourite photo angle- from below- hippopotamus maximus!)
Our journey down here was (I’m told uncharacteristically) smooth. We had a royal send-off in Georgetown from Dengue Steve, Typhoid Ramesh, Laptop Rayan and BMX Britto. They came to drop us off at 7:30, and sweetly killed time with us till 8:30 when the bus actually arrived. We all managed to board and set off bang on time, 9pm. The Big Bus would have looked pretty shabby to me two months ago. If you drove up to Victoria Coach Station and started loading, there would be a few complaints. No-one could call it fancy. But it was the most comfortable seat I’ve sat on since leaving England, despite being plastic and ripped. We had the front two seats. Luxury!
The last five hours are the best part. At 5:45, the Big Bus is first in the queue for the Rupununi ferry- a 500 horsepower plank raft with a steel undercarriage. First, all the passengers walk on. Then each vehicle reverses down a steep muddy riverbank, and then across two planks on to the raft. The angles involved did not suit the Big Bus at all. Considering the palaver, it’s hard to imagine they go through this every day. The minibuses fit themselves on round the big bus, and the passengers keep hopping out of the way each time another vehicle gets packed on. At about 6a.m, a prime time of day for biting insects, the ferry sets off. It pulls upriver for a while, crossing the current high enough to counter the pull and nudge up to the opposite bank with aplomb. A boy in a vest and ragged denim shorts refills the fuel tanks with a chopped-down bottle as funnel, rinsing out the old diesel into the almost-pristine river.
The road now goes through Iwokrama rainforest for an hour. I see my first “don’t litter” sign in Guyana, warnings against hunting and logging, alert-looking wardens. It’s heartening. Sadly every right-minded creature in the forest avoids the Big Bus like the plague. We stop for breakfast at Annai, a small village with a positively posh eco-resort and a red dirt landing strip. In the ladies’ toilets there’s a faded photograph of Prince Charles and a giant otter gazing at one another in mutual benevolent befuddlement (there isn’t one in the gents, B tells me). I get a decent cup of tea for breakfast; I’ve come to terms with the ubiquitous powdered milk.
The rest of the journey is over the savannah. We see egrets and vultures, and a few herons, but nothing more exciting in the way of wildlife. I don’t blame them for scarpering in the face of the Big Bus. The Kanuku mountains march us the last two hours into Lethem, rising abruptly out of the flatlands, cloaked in rich green trees.
Monday, 2 March 2009
-A state of being which doesn't involve itching
-Live music (even at Mashramani, nearly all the music was canned)
-Enough sunshine to warm even my cold clammy bad moods!