|Message to the Trio
So a decision has been
made ... reluctantly we have decided to use the plane, which was going
to fly in to re-supply us, to lift us over the next section instead.
It was an agonising decision last night, having put so much blood, sweat
and tears into trying to crack the Corantyn.
On the one hand we were desperate to keep going if at all possible,
so that we could arrive at the Trio village of Kwamalasamutu by river.
We felt that this would give us some respect from the people there,
as opposed to arriving, like most other outsiders, at the airstrip.
We felt it would give us a more grass roots understanding of life in
Kwamala and that we would, after our long journey up-river, be in a
better frame of mind to appreciate the culture and nature there. We
wanted to see the Upper Corantyn, and the Curuni rivers, and feel them
narrrowing from the 20km mouth where we began in Nieuw Nickerie. Also,
we had picked up Basha John and one of the six Captains of Kwamalasamutu
at the Wonotobo falls. They are Trio people who have been sent to set
up a new settlement half way down river from Kwamala as a bridge for
the Trio on the Corantyn to the outside world (at present they only
have the costly option of the airstrip). We really wanted to take them
to their home village, not only to help them, but also because it would
have weighed in our favour with the Granman (Paramount Chief). We only
have a short time in the village and we want to film life there... we
do not take it for granted that we will be allowed to film, and without
the Granman's permission it will be impossible. So arriving with Captain
and Basha John would have ingratiated us to the Granman and, we felt,
improved our prospects. Sadly, since the boat is not going that far,
neither is it going to return to Wonotobo where Basha John and Captain
live. So they won't fly in with us as they would be unable to return.
These were all factors that were making us try to find a way to carry
on with our trip. On the other hand there were other factors which won
out in the end. It took us a while to work out it was Saturday yesterday.
To get a new propeller before Monday was going to be very difficult,
and to raise Intertropical airways even more so. We have very little
food left, and are surviving on rice with rice topping, plus what we
can catch in the river, or what Suresh can shoot from the trees.....
he's not a very good shot. In addition, we were already a week or so
behind schedule , and as our trip is to continue for a few more weeks,
rendezvous-ing with different groups on the way, we were in danger of
jeopardising our future plans. We do not have an infinite amount of
time, money, tape stock, etc and we could see things becoming very stretched
if we waited for two days for the propeller. We also discussed how,
over the last days, trying to get up the river, we have supplied a lot
of 'action and adventure'. While this was part of the plan, it must
always be kept in a balance with the more important issues and reasons
for our journey; namely to provide a platform for the remote communities
of Suriname to voice their feelings and concerns about the rainforest
to the world. Lastly, but not least, we have been receiving e-mails
telling us that the border dispute between Suriname and Guyana has intensified
and that troops are now active in the area we are in. The last thing
we wanted was to find ourselves stumbling into a war-zone!
So we decided to turn back today and make for Amotopo, a small airstrip
about 6km downstream. This wasn't going to be as easy as it sounds.
We have bust our 40hp engine and were left, on the wrong side of the
river, with our half-broken 20hp engine. Going down rapids is trickier
than going up them, and yesterday we had got ourselves stuck half way
up. So the morning began with Aweiti scouting down through the rapids
beneath us, barefoot plumbing the depth with his trusty fishing pole.
Meanwhile, his son Marcel set off down a creek armed with a Machete
to see if this would provide a safer route to the foot of the rapids.
After much discussion it was decided that the boat, minus all essential
gear (satellite communicator, cameras, stock etc) would be run down
the hard bit of the rapids by Marcel, Oki, and Basha John, while the
rest of us would skirt round overland. Well, I say 'overland', but in
reality it was over land, through creeks and swamps, carrying the boxes
over our heads to keep them dry. It was a wonderful moment when, about
an hour later, we reached the bottom of the rapids and minutes later
the boat appeared, engine purring, crew whooping, and Marcel shouting
in his now customary manner "I am a Runningman!". We knew we had extracted
ourselves from a sticky situation.
So now I'm sitting in a small corrugated iron shack by the river peering
through the clouds of mosquitoes that seem to like it in this particular
spot , and are buzzing on the screen and slowly munching away at my
hands as I type. It seems bizarre to think that tomorrow we will actually
arrive in Kwamalasamutu, albeit not in the fashion that we intended.
Basha John assures me that there are no mosquitoes there which is music
to my ears.
Another, final, very positive point that forms today's video entry,
is that last night we were talking to Captain and Basha John about how
sorry we were that we could not take them all the way but we suggested
that we take a video message from them to the Granman. We really can
not think of a more positive way of using the technology that we have
at our disposal. Captain and Basha John are coming with us after all!
Cutting Through the Current
A Message for the Granman