27 April 2012 | Georgetown, Guyana
New Dutch crew of Carine (an old friend) arrived in from Amsterdam and we set out on a jungle hike to a couple waterfalls before setting sail. Besides the thick green jungle that surrounded us we saw neon colored lizards and frogs, but it was the ubiquitous bright blue butterflies that stole the show. Our friend Richie brought his family out the boat for one last goodbye and nearly cried with fear from the water on dingy ride to the boat, much to the amusement of us and his wife. A little girl has lost one of her toes to a piranha just last month, but I think it was his not being able to swim and it being dark that scared him most. On board from Richies jungle garden that surrounds his house we now have papayas, squash, peppers, oranges, bananas and tropical red pears.
Leaving the river at max flow we broke 10 knots as the Suriname River spit us back to sea. Usually not seeing any other sailboats in these waters I was surprised to see a schooner the next day and so called them up on the radio. Turns out it was the Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace boat, heading for the Amazon. We exchanged info and watched each other disappear over the horizon.
We arrived into Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, at night and knowing its pirate reputation anchored in front of a well lit cargo ship. Diego dropped Carine and I on shore to stay back and guard the boat making arrangements to pick us up at 10. Unfortunately we had changed time zones and so our 10s didn’t match up forcing me to jump in the river and swim to get the dingy upon our return. In the swift current I had to climb on a barge of logs and then jump to a pilot boat before getting diego´s attention with the dingy. It had been only 5 minutes since I left Carine, but in that time she was robbed by three men with a machete. Standing at 5 feet 1 inch and weighing in at only 100 pounds, the petite blonde Carine seemed like an easy target and the men immediately took everything from her including my computer bag. However, what they didn´t know is that she is also a military psychologist with a rank of captain in the Royal Dutch Air Force and somehow she managed to convince the thieves that they had no use for our credit cards, my computer, or digital camera and so after she got those items back, they only made off with our cash and cheap nokia phone. Whether the thieves are incredibly gullible or Carine has Jedi powers is yet to be determined, but either way her efforts amounted to a huge save. Back at Bubbles we took the pink painted 15 hp outboard off and put her inside the cockpit where I cuddled her safely all night. It would be our last together.
The next day Geogetown had a dinseyland like feel to it with a huge clock tower at the market and city hall having an equal design to that of the Disney castle with its steep spires and flag on top. This being the only English speaking country in South America I had assumed language would be a non issue, but the English spoken amongst the locals is none I recognize (I could get around easier in a French speaking country). When someone did finally slow there speech down enough we could here Caribbean style creole enough to make some words out.
Now anchored over by the harbor master in what is supposed to be the safest place in Georgetown we still took the precaution of leaving either Diego or I aboard Bubbles and always escorting Jedi Carine. That evening though when we whistled for Diego I was surprised to see him paddle over on the surf board. The river pirates had taken our dingy and our pretty pink outboard with it. By the time we got to the coast guard to start the search they were long gone. Now deciding to tie up to the pilot boats the strong outflowing current turned us sideways pinching us to their bow. It took everything we had to get us out of the near sinking situation and back to the safety of the open river. We then tied up at a commercial dock but were kicked off there before finding a cargo ship out of Trinidad allowing us to raft with them. Upon hearing what had happened they gave us one of their extra security guards armed with a shotgun. It was around 2 am by the time we got some sleep.
We woke before six to catch a flight to the interior to check out Kaieteur Falls, the tallest single drop falls in the World (not to be confused with the nearby and much taller Angel Falls). Upon landing the 10 seater twin prop on a jungle strip we were greeting by a native of the Patsimuno tribe with the very non native name of Leroy (for tourist purposes no doubt). I, the western tourist, with my scraggily beard, mismatched sandals, and ragged shirt, shook the hand of Leroy, the jungle native, who wore a brand new national park polo and was well groomed with gelled hair (oh how times have changed). Leroy took us through the jungle leading to the falls, on the way pointing out a cock of the rock (a beautiful bird with orange plumage) and where the poison dart frogs live (where the Patsimuno get the poison for their darts). Reaching the falls and watching an entire jungle river plunge 750 feet into the sandstone gorge below brought a sense of aliveness to me I only get at such places. I could have stayed there for much longer. Leroy told us of a past chief who paddled his canoe over the falls just to stop a war before ushering us back the airstrip and the plane.
Back in Georgetown we wasted no time provisioning the boat and making her ready for sea. We were assisted by many a friendly local curious as to what the heck we were doing on such a boat. We had been two for two in our nights spent in Georgetown for being robbed and not wanting to make it three we pushed off just after sunset. ¨There be pirates out there ya know¨ the captain of the cargo ship told us just before we left. ¨But if ya shoot em good with that flare gun of yers they´ll leave you be´. We left with flare gun loaded.