Thursday November 29th, 2001
Not all the team are together tonight as Marc, Alistair, Janot and our film crew, Simon and James, left this morning, with Lucho and his two Yanomami crew members, for a five-day side trip up the Siapa River. They are using our inflatable dinghy (Orange 1) and two bongos with fast outboard motors attached.
The Doc, Franck and I are manning “Seamaster 2” at our base adjacent to the mouth of the Siapa River. We will maintain communications and act as a secondary emergency response facility - just in case.
Yesterday, after continuous heavy rainfall for around five hours, the skies cleared as we pulled into a small village called Porvenir. This was our first refuelling stop in Venezuela. While taking on several 200 litre barrels of fuel, we had time to interview the chief of the village who also acts as a deputy commissaries (commissioner) for the region.
He is an important man and his job is quite extensive: looking after health issues of the 37 people in the village and tending to the general day-to-day needs of the whole community plus surrounding villages. Our time with him was most interesting and we learned a lot about the local wildlife, the indigenous people and the uniqueness of the environment of this region.
As we were walking back to “Seamaster 2”, the “Doc” was asked to check on a young villager who had fallen and injured his back. During his examination, the Doc was joined by the village’s pet monkey which was enthusiastically keen to help. We ventured that this boisterous animal would make a great assistant for the “Doc” during the remainder of our journey. The venerable medicine man was not amused.
Departing Porvenir at around 2pm, we motored up the Casiquiare and pushed on through a fairly treacherous section of rapids to the small island where we are now anchored. Several of the team explored the area while the rest of us went about setting up camp and setting up hammocks on the beach. We are now quite good at this. Practice does make perfect. Once we had turned off the generator, we were able to enjoy peaceful night of delicious stillness.
The Siapa team left at 9 o’clock this morning, headed for a large waterfall that is the initial destination. From there they will be on foot for three days, working their way up a mountain (called locally a “tepui”) for a panoramic view of the entire region of jungle and rivers below.
It is now 8pm and they have just checked in after nudging ashore to make camp. They’ve enjoyed a great day of travel and beautiful sights along with noticeably increased bug activity. Back at base, we have received a stream of visiting locals in bongos, including the area’s Yanomami chief. They are extremely hospitable and come to welcome us to the region.
Best wishes from,
The Jungle Team.