December 4, 2006
This morning a 4-wheeler came to the river from the "back dam," which is Guyanese for "middle of nowhere," and started loading up fuel to take back to camp. After the driver loaded 18 jugs of fuel, he offered to load up our backpacks as well, and Craig and I happily obliged. I removed my passport, camera, computer, and all other electronic equipment, and loaded it all into my day bag, which I carried myself. The walk through the jungle was beautiful, and most of it appeared to be untouched by humans. There were a few diabolical looking bridges along the way which crossed the muddy streams that had been contaminated by the mining operations. It took two hours to reach the mining camp.
My first impression of the camp was a lot better than I had expected. A large area had been cleared of debris, and the white dirt was even neatly raked. I later realized that the camp was built on top of a former mine on which nothing could grow anymore. At any rate, there were huge tarps set up for protection from the elements. Under one tarp were the hammocks, and the other one was used for eating and socializing. Everyone was out mining except the cook and a guy with malaria. It seems that every miner here gets malaria a few times annually.
We saw the bike driver at another mining camp, which was next to our camp. He seemed a little worried and casually mentioned that the bike's trailer tipped on its side and got a little wet. I didn't have anything fragile in my backpack, so I didn't think it would be a big deal. I walked over to Chris' camp and noticed that our backpacks were both dripping wet. As I began pulling stuff out of mine, I noticed that everything was completely drenched. I later found out that the trailer had fallen off one of the makeshift bridges and was submerged in the water for half an hour before the driver could pull it out. Luckily it was a sunny day, but it took all afternoon to get everything thoroughly dried. I was most worried about my down sleeping bag, but it appears to be salvageable. The incident turned out to be a close call because I had all of my electronic equipment in my day pack.
When everyone came back from the day's work, we met Rudy, the general manager of the operation. He was an older man who treated us like kings. He said that we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted, we could set up our tents under the tarp, and we could eat with the miners. He even gave us doormats for our tents!
With all the scary stories of people contracting malaria here, I retired to my tent early. I was getting my freshly dried gear put in order and I started reviewing my pictures on my camera. I hadn't used my laptop in a few days, so I turned it on just to make sure it was still working. Right away, I noticed a big crack in the screen. It looks like I can still somewhat use the computer, but I don't know for how long. I'll have to wait until I get into a city to find out if it will be feasible to replace the LCD screen but keep the same computer.