Kamuni Creek, Guyana – October 3, 2012
At about 07:30, I left the embassy with a driver, two of my colleagues (Brian and Elroy), and an aluminum boat in tow. The embassy purchased the craft some time ago. The emergency vessel is for evacuating embassy employees in case of floods. It will seat up to 12 people.
We decided to make this journey to exercise the boat motor. If one leaves a motor sitting, it will eventually cease to operate. To make sure it was ready and available for emergencies, we had to try it out!
Our destination was the Demerara River. We drove to the small town of Timehri. According to Wikipedia, the word Timehri is an Amerindian word meaning “paintings and drawings on the rock.” Timehri is very close to the international airport. There are a couple of places at Timehri to launch small boats. The launch we chose was a pier. Instead of backing the trailer into the water and launching the boat from the trailer, several local men man-handled the vessel into the river.
The tow vehicle drove out directly onto the pier. Immediately several men swarmed the car and trailer. With their help, the trailer was unhooked from the vehicle and manually turned around 180 degrees. Shortly before that, one of the men lifted the motor out of the boat and placed it on the pier. Soon the vessel was lifted off of the trailer and carried down to the water. The tide was up, so they did not have far to carry the boat. They placed the craft in the water and turned it, so the bow faced out into the river. At this point, Brian gave the lead man GD$1,000 (US$5). With the boat in the Demerara, Elroy and one of the other men attached the motor to the stern. Once the engine was in place and the fuel line connected, it started right up.
A boat moored near the pier on the Demerara River in Guyana.
As we motored from the launch point across the Demerara River, our “target” was Kamuni Creek. It took just a couple of minutes to cross the Demerara and begin our trek principally west, up the Kamuni. It was at that point that the meaning of Guyana struck me. Guyana is also an Amerindian word meaning “land of many waters.”
Our destination was the Arrowpoint Resort, located on the Kamuni Creek near the village of Santa Mission.
I found our journey to be amazingly fascinating. At its widest point, the creek was maybe 40 feet across. At its most narrow point, the stream was just short of 20 feet across. At some of the broader parts, the native vegetation was relatively short. That gave an expansive feel. At the narrow stretches with tall plants, it almost took the appearance of a green tunnel.
One of the first things we came across was a logging operation. Several men were loading cargo onto a barge. As we continued, we encountered several boats coming toward us, heading toward the Demerara River. We overtook one boat.
We also saw a sunken boat near the bank. One has to wonder what the story is behind the sinking.
In the first several hundred meters, we motored past many homes. Often, the only clue that hinted at their location was a boat pulled up to the bank. One could tell those living there were mainly living off of the land. The nearest store of any sort would have been back at Timehri.
At two or three locations along Kamuni Creek, we saw safety and warning signs. One of the safety signs suggested staying to the right while navigating the creek. I found that odd only because on the roads in Guyana; one travels on the left side. I am not sure why it may have been different on Kamuni Creek. Maybe it some maritime mandate.
Periodically, the dense jungle gave way to broader vistas due to the many logging operations. On our journey, we passed at least three such operations.
Kamuni Creek is another of the blackwater creeks in Guyana. Blackwater creeks get their color due to the rotting plant material in the forest. As water leaches through the plant materials, the natural tannins darken the water. Being so dark, in many places, the calm creek seemed more like a mirror, reflecting the vegetation, sky, and clouds.
When the boat was at speed, with the wind rushing by, it was comfortable. However, if the vessel stopped or slowed, it was instantly like sitting in an oven, a hot, sweaty oven.
Continuing along, we passed many mangrove trees, bamboo clumps, and multiple other types of water plants. In some areas of the creek, we encountered red dragonflies that were about an inch and one-half in length. Then we would see greenish-yellow dragonflies that were about twice as long as the red ones. With their quick movement and the low light in the jungle, I was not able to get any good photographs.
I kept my eyes peeled for any caiman. I did not see any. I am sure that is because they are most active at night.
We finally made it to the Santa Aratak reservation. That is another of the Amerindian groups that inhabit the area. Shortly after entering the reservation, we passed Tiger Farm. It was made up of a boat dock and a clearing leading up to a white painted home.
As we continued, we saw several silver-gray herons flying along beside us, just mere inches above the water. I was not quick enough to get any photographs.
Shortly after reaching another logging operation, we decided to turn around and head back to the Demerara. We had been traveling on the creek for about an hour and one-half. So it was a long ride back too.
A dock at a logging camp.
When we arrived back at the pier, the same men that initially helped launch our craft met us again. Based on our description of where we turned around, they told us we had been only five or ten minutes away from Arrowhead Resort. Maybe we can go back sometime and try again.
Getting the boat out of the river was mostly the reverse of our launch. The exception was that the tide had gone out, so the distance up to the pier was much more significant. That distance did not deter one of the men. He picked up the motor and hoisted it onto one shoulder. When he had it balanced, he walked it up to the pier. What a feat! I estimate the engine weighs around 125 pounds (57 kilograms). As if the weight were not bad enough, the shape of the motor adds to the awkward carry. Once the boat was on the trailer, the lead man received another GD$1,000, and we were on our way back to the embassy. Some of the things I get to do with my job are just amazing!
We made it back to the embassy just in time for lunch.
One lone home on the west bank of the Demerara River.