January 2, 2007
Craig and I walked to the main road just before dawn to start hitchhiking. We wanted to get to the next town which was 150 K's down the road. We'd still only be halfway to Paramaribo, but we were told that it'd be easy to get a ride once we got to the next town.
It was another long day of waiting. At one point, I thought I heard a car coming. "Only if they've started building cars with jet engines," was Craig's response. Sure enough, it was just an airplane.
Just as we were getting ready to make lunch, Craig happened look down the road and saw something walking across it about 400 meters away. He though it was a jaguar, but I couldn't tell because it was so far away. The animal stopped at the side of the road, so I grabbed my telephoto lens and shot a few pictures. Sure enough, it had the tell-tale spots of a jaguar, the greatest predator of the Amazon, and one of the hardest animals to see.
As long as we had seen the jaguar and it was content to stand on the side of the road, we decided to try to get a bit closer. Slowly, we crept along the side of the road, staying slightly out of its view the entire way. It didn't move away until we were within about 150 meters of it and it slowly walked into the bushes. We kept walking all the way to where it was standing and waited in silence. After a few minutes of standing and waiting, it made a loud rustling noise in the bushes. I was ready with my camera to get a picture of it lunging at us, but Craig let out a huge scream and it ran away. My heart was pounding for the next half hour. I previously had smelled and heard a jaguar in Guyana, but this was my first time actually seeing one, and I still haven't even been eaten!
The rest of the day was filled with uneventful waiting. Once again, not one car passed us the entire day until a truck full of Chinese loggers came up to us looking for mangoes. We helped them get about fifty and they drove us to the turnoff to their camp, a little closer to our goal. However, no other cars came down the road, so we had to give up.
One of the Chinese loggers offered us a ride back to Apoera, and as much as we wanted to try for a ride one more day, we only had enough food left for a meager breakfast, and the fact that there was so little traffic on the road gave us no choice. We had gotten to within 135 K's of the next town, but now we'll have to go all the way back to Apoera, take a boat back to Nickerie, then a bus to Paramaribo, then another bus/hitch to the town, effectively completing a circle around the entire country.