Our march out of the mountains which should have lasted no more than 2-3 hours dragged on as we found more and more to divert us. Me and my friend were happy to prolong our exodus, however the Australian couple who had forged ahead became lost from view. When we finally reached them several hours later they had buckled under the open heat of the Rupununi savannah. Out of the dense rainforest the sun had clubbed them over the heads and was now sitting on what appeared to be their motionless corpses. We approached to find them sun dazed, and pale, their lips scorched and cracked. They gazed listlessly at a puddle of excrement coated water, the longing apparent from their half open mouths to their arms half raised like zombies after nourishment. “BRAAAAAAIIIIIINS”- sorry, I mean “Water” they gasped. Unfortunately all the water we had was in the oxcart which had taken another route to reach camp and only met up several kilometers downtrail. So they grudgingly got up and hobbled onwards.
Meanwhile my friend and I raced down to intercept the wagon and bring back some water. Fortunately neither of us felt particularly dehydrated. We finally reached the cart and got some water. My friend continued on with the guide and cart and I brought the water back to the Australians. Only catch was I couldn’t find them now. So I walk up and down the path and retrace it to the very mouth of the forest, yet still no Aussies. So either they got lost or else they had perhaps entered one of the disheveled houses along the way to plea for water. In any case I continue on, fed up with having my good deed rewarded by being crushed under a heavy sun. 45 minutes later a native on a bicycle passes me by. Thinking quickly I flag him down. “Have you seen an Australian couple” I ask. He nods. “How far back?” “Oh, very far”. So I ask him if he can take the water back to them and I agree to pay him a couple of bucks. So the man cycles off and I walk on until finally I make it to the lodge at N. village. Here the cart has already unloaded and my friend and the guide bring the cart back ’round to pick up the flagging Aussies who arrive a half hour later, somewhat the worse for wear. We all rehydrate and rest our aching feet, while our car is called in from Lethem.
We relax in hammocks, I read War and Peace and after another hour of waiting the cab arrives. We load in when another man and his daughter beg to share the ride. We hem and haw a bit since there is really very little room, but finally the man is thrown in the trunk like another piece of luggage, his daughter and I share the front seat and the others are in the back. 5 minutes in and I lose feeling in my legs from the unnatural position I have assumed so that I am not sitting in her lap, after all I have enough problems without the worry of a sexual harassment suit. We jump and are jostled on the rough road, each time I land an inch closer to the daughter who looks at me with accusing eyes like I was planning some kind of invasion. I repel her angry eyes with profuse apologies, happy only that the father is contorted around several valises so that he can’t see our subtle interchanges. If I wasn’t uncomfortable enough, the hour and a half journey is made especially worrisome as the driver occasionally slumps in his seat, his eyes gradually winking shut until he is asleep at the wheel. It takes a moment for us to notice as we slowly start veering off the road before the Australian woman seated directly behind him slaps him in the back of the head. Then we all gasp with sharp intake of breath as he comes to and swerves back onto the road. This wouldn’t have been such an issue if this didn’t happen every few minutes.
But we all arrive safely. The others cajole me to get the man and woman to help pay the fare. “After all” they supplicate, “we were so uncomfortable”. “We?!!!” I ask as I collapse out of the car with accordion legs begging to be stretched back out. “Alright, alright”. The man and his daughter thank us very nicely. “It’s so kind of you and your friends to help travelers in need, the car is so expensive, blah, blah blah” and then they leave to catch their onward bus to Georgetown. As they are leaving my friend comes up from behind me putting a hand on my shoulder. “So did they help pay their way?”. “Uhhhh well, we didn’t exactly get around to…that is to say…”. “Yeah I heard everything” he says, “you were very convincing”. “Shutup” I tell him as I get back into the much roomier front seat.
We pay the taxi man and review our finances as we head towards a hotel to rest the night. Okay this is bad…this is really very bad…