Hiking overland to Kaieteur falls from Amatuk was something that I had gotten excited about. Cutting my way through the jungle, just me, my wits, and a machete (and several thousand dollars worth of survival equipment). I dreamed of starting my own show, “Survivorboy”, though I was perhaps better equipped than Les Stroud I wouldn’t let that stop my bragging rights. So when Sammy tells me that we would get a ride up the river it was a little disappointing to cut the overland part short, but I decided the company was worth it in case something befell me which, if I were a betting man, I’d be all in. So the morning a giant, ogre of a man aptly named King tells us he’ll take us up the river, but we need to help him load in the engine. It is an engine to help with their mining operation further upriver and it is a HEAVY fucker! The kind that are responsible for the water cooler stories old men tell, “So, how did you get that limp?” “Well, a few years back there was this engine that pinned my leg”- Yeah, that’s the one. Probably between 5-600 pounds and moving it between four of us. First we tilt it onto some large PVC runners and then slide it towards the boat. Every so often it slides to one side promising with its rough, diesely voice to leave me a cripple for the rest of my days, only to be pulled back atop the runners at the last moment. King, muscles flexing looks like some kind of roman statue and would have been quite at home I’m sure amongst the 300 spartans defending Thermopylae. Sammy directs the engine into the proper orientation while we heave ho. At times we need to use a large log to jack up the engine. Finally, after 30 minutes of sweat, the engine settles into the boat, which promptly sinks down about a foot in the water, the edges of the boat just barely clearing the water’s surface. We all get in real like slow like, fearing that any sudden movements will bring catastrophic consequences. We fire up the engine and we’re away. We travel another 30 minutes upstream until we get to a creek by the name of wild hat. Here the miners have their operation and here we unload the engine. Of course the bank where they choose to disembark is also home to a large wasp nest. Another group of miners who had arrived that morning and were setting up camp joins us to help get the engine up the steep bank. As I move, a miner grabs my elbow, puts a finger to his lips and says, “quiet, they’re watching”. I have no idea what he’s going on about and think the fellow is rather crazy. And continue to tug at my ridiculously heavy backpack to get it ashore. He grabs me again more forcefully and points. Understanding dawns on me, I nod and proceed without all the flailing and gesticulating hitherto performed.
When we’re all ready, we attach a rope to the engine and turn it in the boat so that it is perpendicular to the shore. This job is much harder and takes about 7 of us. We heave the engine onto the bank, then count to 3 and drag it along some wooden planks that we have settled down. “1…2…3…PULL!” and then someone from behind says, “Shhh, shhh…the bees!”. So again, “1…2…3…PUll!”. “REMEMBER, the bees!!!” Everyone nods, and there are murmurs all around, “Oh yeah, I forgot the bees”, “yeah, those bees are bad”, “Stupid bees”. “1…2…3…pull” we whisper ridiculously since by now we’re all tugging asynchronously since we can’t hear the instructions. But, we get the damn engine up the bank and me and Sammy are taken to the mining camp. “Tomorrow they will take us further up the river, tonight we will wait here”. I feel like I am being left out of this decision making process, while Sammy is eating my food, using my stove and reaping most of the benefits. “Maybe I can just slip off in the middle of the night”, I wonder. But Sammy graciously cooks the food for us and introduces me to ‘floats’ a kind of easy to make bush bread. He also shares his foodstuffs that he bought in Amatuk quite liberally with me, and I feel good again about our arrangement.
So, again that night I wander around camp and take some photos. Night for me is the best time to take photos since I usually see a lot more insects. Most camouflaged insects are camouflaged to protect themselves from keen sighted animals in the light of day. Animals that wander around at night largely use senses other than vision, and so leaf mimicking katydids (related to crickets and grasshoppers), walking sticks and other camouflaged creatures will sit out on leaves where their camouflage is less effective and feed. Larger animals are also easier to spot since the reflective backing of their retinas are reflective to concentrate the little light that the moon has to offer and hence will glow in the flashlight.
- Crab spider (Thomisidae) has caught an ant
Crab spiders are typically sit and wait predators. They choose their locations carefully though. Many will sit, camouflaged amongst the flowers and wait for nectar seeking bees. Others will perch near ant or termite nests. I’m sure you can guess this fellow’s approach.
- An elegantly elongated spider that is perfectly camouflaged against the dead grasses and reeds