Today is a day of celebration for us; exactly a year ago we landed in Georgetown. We can still remember the excitement in the pits of our stomachs when we saw the advertisement, inviting interested applicants to respond to an invitation to work with local Amerindian communities in the south of Guyana.... one of the three Guianas - the other two being French Guyana (still a part of France, so no visa necessary for Europeans, and Suriname, which the Dutch (like the British did to Guyana) happily returned to their rightful owners. So, here we are and apart from the fact that one is not tripping over wildlife and primary forest at every step, we have certainly not been disappointed.
|Waiting for the boat to Rewa Eco Lodge|
|Pink flamingoes in flight in the wetlands off Fathers Beach, Shell Beach|
|Hiking the forests at Maipaima Lodge|
Although our work with the Amerindian communities concentrates on the Rupununi (Guyana's Region 9), last month we actually stepped beyond our work boundaries. We were privileged to be invited to join a group of other professionals on a charrette organized by the Protected Areas Commission (part of the Guyanese Government) and facilitated by the WWF. We first came across this term a year ago. In as few words as possible "a charrette is an intensive exercise to complete a project by a deadline'. There must have been a total of twenty-five to thirty of us all collected in Georgetown for the start. Architects, civil engineers, tourism consultants, systems designers, community planners, park concessioners; were all part of the mix. We were asked to inspect four different and distinct areas within the parks of the PAC with a view to advising on possible sites for ranger stations, offices and monitoring posts as well as provide an assessment of their potential for sustainable eco tourism development. From Georgetown, the four groups split to visit Kaiteur (Guyana's iconic falls, and actually the deepest, uninterrupted drop in the world), the Rupununi (two groups), about which we have rabbited on incessantly, and Shell Beach - where four of the eight endangered species of sea turtles return every year to nest: Hawksbills, Green, Olive Ridley and Leatherback. Jelte was assigned to the Kaiteur group and I (oh! woe is me!) to the Shell Beach group.
|Kaiteur, where the charrette groups congregated after our visits|
|Regular morning visit of the giant river otters at Rewa Eco Lodge|
|Roosting scarlet ibis off Waini Point|
|Almond Beach where we based ourselves for two nights|
We are now back in Lethem, having also been to Rewa for further training sessions, where Christine taught vegetarian cooking and Jelte continued working with management and back-office staff. Maipaima Eco-Lodge was also on our visiting schedule and for those of you who do make it to this part of the world, it too is well-worth a trip.
|Resting after a long hike up Black Rock, Moco Moco, at sunrise|
|Boa Vista, where we wash the red dust out of our pores|
|Saddle Mountain Ranch, just a short three hour ride from Lethem|
|Riding the water pipe, on the way down from the Black Rock, Moco Moco|
|Lethem is way, in the distance|
|Yellow spotted river turtle hatchlings at Caiman House|
|Yes! We made it out!|
More adventures to follow; we promise.