Monday, August 30, 2010

Week One!

We made it through our first week!  Baptism by Fire!  The water pump finally arrived and was connected on Friday!  HALLELUJAH!!  That first shower felt so good!  We’ve managed to keep smiling  in the midst of a fuel shortage, which transferred into a shortage of rations.  A little gaiety and laughter go a long long way.  I brought a skirt with me, which my mother had originally brought back to the States from Zimbabwe.  It was so beautiful.  I presented this gift to Diane, who immediately put it on!   I made Eddo Curry (check out the new recipe under our Karanambu Recipes) and Salvador made Roti and we all of us dressed for dinner and had a lovely evening.
Re-thatching is a real art and a fascinating process. We have had a serious problem with bats in the roofs of the cabin.  Before we got here Diane began have the roofs re-thatched. Because the river is so high, the men were able to easily reach the leaves needed to re-thatch 4 houses. 
It’s a craft.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

THE DAY has finally arrived!!

We were booked on the 10:30 flight out of Ogle (airport) to Lethem, with two stops in between. First stop is Annai, and then on to Karanambu. Both of us have taken this flight many times, alone and together, but today was different, we were not going on vacation to visit Diane, we were going to our new home to work with Diane. We could hardly believe that we were actually on our way to the airport.
You are only allowed to travel with 25lbs each on the 12 seater plane, but we had called ahead and booked 200lbs in over-weight. We took 2 of our 4 suitcases, the alternator for the generator at Karanambu (which weighed over 100 lbs by itself), 2 backpacks, a rain gage, 4 bougainvilleas plants and some orchid plants that had originally belonged to Granny (Salvador’s Mother). By the time we got to Ogle we were in a mass of confusion. IF we had to leave something behind what would it be??? Fortunately for us, everything got on the flight.
Loading the plane

 watching from inside
When you fly over Guyana it all becomes very clear. 95% of the population live on the coast. So, first you see the houses of Georgetown, then the sugar cane fields,
then the Rain Forest which looks like miles and miles and miles of Broccoli...
and finally come the Savannahs. 
9 months out of the year the Savannahs are dry dry dry. Sand and brush. But three months out of the year, in the rainy season, they flood and the dessert fills with water. The roads become waterways. Where landrovers once traveled comfortably, now only boats can manage to get through.

The plane landed and there was Di and Royell and the BLUE landrover (the fancy one! This one has a windshield!)

We went by land rover from the airstrip as far as we could go.  The boat was waiting to take us the rest of the way home.
It is a 3 ½ mile trail that we easily did in 15 – 20 minutes by landrover in March. This time it took us a good hour by boat. Traveling through the trees in a boat on water is a special thrill.

The welcoming committee was in full force! Everyone was so excited to see us! Both the staff and management greeted us with hugs. Neighbors made the long trip to greet us and wish us well. We were thrilled to be so warmly received. But our celebration ended quickly when Royell announced that the water pump had seized up. The water pump is essential, because we pump water from the river to fill the over head tanks. We have two 500 gallon tanks, four 450 gallon and one 1000 gallon tank. Without a pump we had no water for bathing, dishes, toilets, cooking….you get the picture. We all immediately went into RATION MODE:

“Don’t flush unless it is absolutely essential”.

“Soap yourself up GOOD before you rinse”

Early this morning I emailed the S.O.S. and we were able to get a new water pump purchased on our behalf and put on stand by for tomorrow morning’s flight to Annai. The only problem is, because of the rainy season, the roads are washed out and there is a shortage of gasoline.

But, we'll figure it all out!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day Off!

At long last, a real day off!  Our friends, Tracy and Warren came to collect us after a long long day!  Tracy grew up in Nutley, the town right next to Montclair.  Warren is Guyanese.  They moved to Guyana a little over a year ago.  They have an amazing place up on the highway called pandama retreat.(click to see their website). Tracy is an incredible artist and has more energy than the "Ever Ready Bunny".  Just recently, she was elected the new president of the Guyana Arts and Crafts Producers Association. She and Warren also produce the most delicious wine made from local fruits. When we were here last year, they had just begun to make their wine. Now it is in full production and being sold in all the local stores and served at the best hotels!  We tease them about remembering us, once they are  BIG BIG BIG, because it's coming, no doubt about it!!
Our first stop was at the local Brazilian restaurant for a cold cold beer...
and a few minutes to catch up on everything that has happened in all of our lives.

Then it was off to their home for a lovely evening together of talk, wine and friendship.  In the morning we woke up in our cabin to the quiet...
It was so beautiful...
 Pumpkin Patch...

Tracy made the most wonderful pancakes for breakfast...
And we sat outside and relaxed and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast...
Taking a day off to relax and recharge is a very good lesson to learn.  Because we will be living on site at Karanambu, we will really be working 24 hours a day.  We must remember to make time for be together and recharge.
The news yesterday was that the roads in the interior are washed out and water is high.  Transportation is impossible.  The big bus has stopped running and the trucks can't get through.  From Georgetown to Iwokrama the road is difficult, but possible, but from Iwokrama to Annai and on to Lethem, there are two very bad stretches where it is impossible to get through at all. Gasoline is being rationed in Lethem and people are running out of supplies because the trucks can't get through. Colin at Rockview Lodge in Annai, wrote yesterday that they are running out of cooking gas and will be using firewood until things improve. No sense in worrying about it until we get there!  We are flying in this morning. Generally, you are only allowed to carry 25lbs with you, but we booked 200lbs in overweight so that we can take our suitcases.  Salvador also has 4 bougainvillea plants to bring in AND a water gage to monitor the rain fall. So we will have to see what they will allow in the small plane.  Once we land at the big airstrip, which is 3 1/2 miles away from Karanambu Lodge, they will pick us up and bring us in by boat!  


Friday, August 20, 2010

Ministries and Meetings

We haven't stopped running since we meeting after another.  The bank, the tour operators, the introduction after another.  The responsibilities for managing Karanambu encompass a tremendous amount of responsibility.  Our working relationships reach from Georgetown all the way to  Lethem and include every phase of operation and management.  

We are excited and exhausted.

We met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  We were very prepared...with 6 copies of all of our documents.  Even she had to laugh!  "You folks are really prepared!"  With a little bit of luck we will be able to move forward from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Revenue by the end of the week!

Salvador hasn't been in a government building in Guyana in 30 year, so when we went to apply for our driver's license he didn't remember the dress code requirements and he went in short pants and flip flops.  Well, this is not the DMV in New Jersey! No sooner had we arrived in the line and Salvador was asked by the policeman to leave the property and wait outside, because he was dressed inappropriately.  I asked if it would be permissible to go in and apply for both of our licenses.  The police officer allow me to.

So after 4 days of meetings, we finally were able to have an evening to relax.   It was so great to have Father Malcolm Rodrigues, (Salvador's cousin and one of my favorite people) and Shirley join us for dinner at Cara Lodge.
 just to relax and laugh and talk.
It was a great night, but tomorrow is another day of Ministries and Meetings.

Monday, August 16, 2010


We arrived this morning!  We walked down the steps, getting off of the could feel and smell the air in Guyana, sweet, thick.  We got our luggage rather easily and going through customs was very agreeable...our paperwork was in order and before you knew it we were cleared and exiting the airport!  All of a sudden, Salvador said, "There's Di!"  And sure enough, 6:33 a.m., Diane as waiting for us to greet us and welcome us..."I wanted you to feel loved!" , she said. And we did!  We headed back to Cara Lodge for breakfast with Paul and Di.  A quick recap of all the news and then we agreed to meet for dinner.

We brought presents (of course!)....for Paul (the Irishman), brother Jonathan sent down a T-shirt that he had made....a bright Irish GREEN with a shamrock in the middle, which said: KARANAMBU, sounds Irish to me!!!  And a lovely caftan for Diane. But tonight was the special special treat!  
Yes, we brought all kinds of delicious STINKY Cheese!  Diane's favorite! It was SOOOooo GOOD!

 We had such a lovely time
Diane wore her new Caftan, and looked WONDERFUL!
Paul & Diane
Our meetings begin tomorrow morning bright and it's off to bed!
Wow, we are really here!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Going Away Parties

We are almost ready...almost, but not quite.  Every time we turn around there is just one more thing to do and the exhaustion is kicking in....

We took the old computer into the Apple store for a "tune up".  They said it would be ready by Friday, Saturday at the latest.  When we called, they had no record of it!  "WHAT?  How is that possible?"  Did we have the receipt???  Oh God, who can find anything in this pile of papers?  Well, we searched and searched and searched....and called Apple back and told them we didn't have it....It was just at this point that the main sewage pipe to the house backed up in the basement!

Don't know how we managed to keep our sense of humor, but we did, amid the panic.  The plumber came and cleared out the tree roots that were blocking the main line.  Andrea started to clean up and grabbed the bag of stale bagels...just as she was about to throw them out, she looked in the bag...the Apple receipt was at the bottom of the bag of bagels....go figure???

We had several going away parties, filled with good wishes and great food and a sense of excitement!

The Garden Group, affectionately known as the "Dirt Diggers" had a beautiful party to wish us well.  Last minute garden instructions and lots of laughs and fantastic food!  Thanks Linda for such lovely evening!

The next party was at Mark and Luz's home....such fun!!

So many friends came to dance and laugh and say good-bye

But we have no pictures of the real tears and the forever hugs...The day in New York with Andrea's Mom, and daughter Jonathan and daughter Emma....or tonight with Marion and Marcella, as we finished packing and waited for the car to come to take us to the airport......or the one last "I love you phone call" to Shannon!  BUT....WE ARE OFF!  And the Adventure has begun!!

More tomorrow from Guyana

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Container Arrives!!

After all of these months of talking about it and preparing for it and packing for it... TODAY IS THE DAY!! 
It was just after 12 noon when Elroy, the manager of Laparkan in New Jersey arrived at our door with two of his "boys".  The container was not far behind them!

We were ready!  Everything had a label and a number which corresponded to the numbers and description of the contents on the Master List!  ORGANIZED!!!!

and...continued...and...continued...AND CONTINUED!
FINALLY...the container was full, locked and sealed!
And ON IT'S WAY!!!!
Leaving us here without a fridge...oven...or BED!!! 
We'll get to Guyana before it does! 
It takes 3 to 4 weeks for the container to get to Georgetown!  Then we have to clear it!!!