December 26, 2006
Bamboo Raft Experiment Day 1
The idea of building a raft being fresh in Craig's mind after the Kaieteur experiment, he thought we should try again on the Corentine River, this time using bamboo as the material. Germaine scrounged up some machetes from his relatives and the three of us spent the morning chopping down bamboo trees in preparation for building the raft. Bamboo is better for building a raft than most wood because not only is it light and hollow, but it's also compartmentalized, so if part of it cracks open and gets flooded, the rest will still remain airtight.
After a few hours, everyone in the village was watching us and calling us crazy. In the end, some of them actually helped us chop, and someone even found some Styrofoam to put underneath. We bought 200 meters of thin rope, cut it up, and tied the pieces together. Eventually, we had something resembling a raft.
We had to hurry because the Corentine empties into the ocean relatively close to Apoera, so its current is directed by the tides. We went back to Germaine's for some final packing (I only took waterproof stuff, and nothing of any value), and were ready to go just as the tide started going out at 3:00. We were told that it would take one tide to get to Wakay, one more to Siparuta, and two more to get to the next town, beyond which the river gets to wide and choppy to support a bamboo raft. Of course, we knew that none of the time estimates would be even remotely accurate because nobody doing the guessing had ever gone down the river on a bamboo raft, so we'll just have to play it by ear.
Germaine, Craig, and I jumped on the raft with our minimal gear, and this time it only sank an inch or two before stopping. A bunch of kids watched us leave, and soon the village returned to normal after the morning's excitement. The raft moved very slowly at first, but then it picked up speed. We passed Washabo and got to Hog Landing (the last village with road access) just before dark. Progress was slow, but at least it was progress. Unfortunately, Germaine was feeling too sick from his malaria to continue, so he went back to Apoera. Craig and I will have to get up early to catch the next tide down the river.