Death by a thousand bites

Mosquito at the pump (Psorophora ferox).

So, I’ve left the very few people who actually read this blog dangling in suspense for long enough. Last entry left me recovering in my hostel room, an infectious itch spreading, mosquito bites like a pox, and my leg barely able to support my weight. What people tell themselves in these situations is, “Don’t worry things can only get better. My luck is going to turn around anytime now”. And to their credit they are usually right. Me, well, read on…

They say depression is gradual and then all of a sudden, it sneaks up on you. Well I felt more like it had fallen like a hammer. I’d been mugged by it, in broad daylight…in a police station (an event which is actually possible in Guyana).

Depression is a mosquito bite. If you indulge it there is a certain amount of relief and even pleasure that you can get from it. However, as you continue to scratch, it becomes as red and inflamed as your bleary eyed days. You scratch away the thin healing scab even as it is forming, begging for the lie of relief promised one moment and torn away the next. And all that’s left at the end of the day is your body of broken promises, bleeding a death of a thousand bites. (What too dark?)

Two long days I lay in bed deciding my fate. Should I return home? To most it would seem the obvious decision, a crippling leg pain with shadows of cancer, to me it was another challenge. I don’t know what it was that I sought to prove or achieve by surmounting/enduring the pain and stubbornly continuing on my journey. I was leaning towards trekking Mt. Roraima in Venezuela when I was dealt another blow. In a staticky conversation with my family I learned that my dog, who was more of a soul mate than any girlfriend I’d ever had, was declining rapidly from cancer (go figure) and might not survive my return if I held to my original schedule. The tug of war was lost and I felt myself being dragged into the shit pit. I was shaken from my apathy, though I nose dived deeper and deeper into depression. I booked the first flight back home that didn’t cost me my remaining testicle and made plans for my remaining days in Guyana. It was about time I leave Lethem anyways, coke bottles accumulated against the wall, and I scratched the mosquito bites like goose bumps, a red mosaic across my flesh, until my hands were covered in blood. To a passing observer it might have looked like I had murdered someone and dissolved their corpse in coca cola. Yes, it was definitely time to leave!

The next day I left Lethem for Annai on a bus whose discomfort I had long since grown accustomed to. I still had several days to kill before my flight, so I camped the night after trying to bushwhack unsuccessfully  into the surrounding hillside. I was quickly defeated by high grasses that colluded with devious potholes as though devised by some ingenious Daedalus. I tired rapidly with my heavy pack, cutting the grasses and then all of a sudden I would fall a foot, searing pain traveling up my leg, lose my balance and collapse in the brush, struggling pathetically to right myself like a fat tortoise flipped on its  back. Exhausted I would finally heave myself back onto my feet only to fall a few moments later. I hadn’t made it further than a few hundred meters when I gave up on this masochistic exercise. Instead I walked back to the road found a couple of lovely mango trees and strung up my hammock between their branches. Apparently people weren’t used to travelers taking such liberties with their mango trees, so I had quite a few locals gawking. I managed to rouse myself at night to check a small mountain but found little of interest and so returned to bed, ready to catch a bus next day.

I caught the bus at noon and arrived at the canopy walkway, a small station on the opposite side from the Iwokrama field station I had first visited. Here I camped out in the bush close to the station but simply lay in my hammock three days, no cooking, no going out. I was in the grips of the depression now, it was all sinking in. The third day came and went and I walked out to the road to catch the bus. Waiting here, the manager of the station came out and delivered me a message “requesting” my immediate removal from the Iwokrama reserve on the first bus. Apparently they were some of the few that actually read my blog and they hadn’t been particularly impressed with my unaccompanied night hikes, or borrowing a canoe at night without permission. I was a little surprised. First that they had found me, I was in the middle of the jungle after all! And that they had reacted so strongly to my endeavors (Though later correspondence explained certain liability issues). However I felt as though I were leaving under a cloud, that Guyana didn’t want me.

I caught the first available ride out of Iwokrama on a truck where people were loaded into the back like cattle and every bump threw us a foot in the air and tossed us around like popcorn. We arrived at the Kurupukari crossing two hours later where I stayed an additional two days camping. Fortunately I pushed myself out of my hammock to explore and I did actually see some things worth my time.

A colourful woodlouse.

Cyclosa species in web with detritus mimicry. See Araneid web building strategies for more info.

A wonderfully odd caterpillar with long stinging extensions all over its body.
Dorsal view of the above caterpillar.

Now it was finally time to go back to Georgetown, to go home. Home…it had acquired an almost mythic place in my mind like Shangri-La. Though whenever I thought about it my daydreams were gradually eroded by the smell of Georgetown’s open sewers. Still a few thousand miles to go…

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