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On The Road Again, Finally........

We are finally heading out, seriously. After two months of introductions, seminars, reports, more introductory meetings and other preparations we are ready to visit the sites and communities, we read and heard so much about but have not yet seen or experienced.



Not too sure what type of bat this is.  Village kids were playing with it
The company car is deemed fit after a final check up by the mechanic (the roads will be bumpy and rough) and loaded with machetes, torch lights and other field trip necessities, we are ready to roll. We’ll visit the South of the Rupununi first for a variety of reasons. The most important one is that the later during the rainy season (May-September) you travel, the higher the chances will be you get stuck in the mud or be stopped by a swollen, un-crossable river.
Before we leave our office in Lethem we, coincidentally, meet with Theodore, a gentle man from the remote village of Maruranau, one of the places we will visit on this trip. Theodore (or Theo) is an artisan, making local crafts out of the natural forest material (baskets, mats, etc). He is self taught, must be in his fifties and makes the most incredible, delicately woven products out of natural materials. Theo won a prize last year for his handicraft skills in one of the local competitions and has been invited to Georgetown (pop. 300,000) to show his wares and to meet some dignitaries.

Young burrowing owls - mother came running to protect them when she saw us stopped
He just returned and he tells us about his trials and tribulations. Before this visit, he had never been further than Lethem (pop. 7,000), he had never flown and he needed a “handler” in Georgetown. Utterly intimidated by the big city, he told us he didn’t know how to hail a cab or bus, how to go from A to B or how to sleep in a regular bed. He has slept in a hammock all his life and explains, that the bed in the hotel he was sleeping at hurt his back and kept him up at night. Although he said he liked the experience, we think he is glad to be back…… 
So this is the world we are venturing into; of course there are many people in the villages who have travelled, seen and experienced other parts of the world (Brazil is close, many of the men go there to find temporary work) but by and large, this part of the world, especially the South Rupununi, is still untouched by our modern appliances and luxuries. 
The local equivalent of beef jerkey
No cell phones or internet access, bad roads, bullock carts or a tractor, donated by the government, as only forms of  transportation. There are cars and motorcycles around but nature is still the ruling force here as we find out when we start crossing rivers and hear about livestock, regularly being attacked and killed by jaguars or pumas.  Daily life on the savannah…..  

Still an important mode of transportation; near Maruranau Village
During this trip, we will mainly visit AmerIndian communities, which calls for a certain standardized, established procedure. The company you work for (in our case CI) sends out a letter of introduction with the purpose of the visit and time and date. Upon arrival, you report to the Toshao (the elected leader of the community) and you then meet with him and the present members of the village council. After this first, introductory meeting you’ll meet with people from the village, who might be interested in what you have to offer….  
There are three different Amerindian groups here in the Rupununi; the Makushis, living mainly in the North, the Wapisiana (Central and South) and the Wai Wai (residing in the deep South). The Amerindian villages/communities (there are, we understand, 162 in the whole of Guyana) are semi-autonomous, have their own (licensed) land and are free to decide on what they will do with it (compare Canada and the US). Agro-culture and tourism have been some of the chosen options so, together with our new colleague Donovan (who is an agro specialist) we head out, always under guidance of a CI staff, who has to formally introduce us to the villages.  Then we sit in at the meetings, listen, talk a bit and listen more to see, what or if our advice is needed.  
Women and children preparing cassava
 
We came here to transfer our skills and we try to do so to the best of our abilities. Every community is different, poses different challenges and needs different solutions; more about our work later, too much to tell about our first road trip but now you have to donate first.
 
 

 INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DONATE TO CUSO

 

 
On OUR main blog page, navigate to the top right hand black menu bar. There are links here for American and Canadian donors. Both in Canada and the USA, your contributions are tax deductable. For non North Americans, if you feel so inclined, donate via the American donation page. Not tax deductable but a very worthwhile cause. Another way to donate is via Flipcause. Click on the link to access our flipcause page. It’s very easy to navigate; when you order with one of the online companies listed (Target, Expedia, Amazon for instance) a percentage of the purchase price is funneled into our fund raising efforts. A little bit less painful perhaps ……

A HUGE THANK YOU for staying with us through this blog and following our varied journeys to further explore this incredible world of ours as well as our fascinating cohabitants.....
 

 

 
Close up of a matapi, a long, woven tube used to squeeze dry the grated cassava
(see others hanging in the background)

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