Posts Tagged With: native indians

Dangerous and Tragic Trek

Since my last blog, I have been away trekking primarily in the South American rain forest seeking herbal and natural remedies that grow there.  However, this post is not about a remedy that cures some ailment, it is about the tragic experience of a young trekker.  I am compelled to share this with you, because it is a serious threat to be taken into consideration when trekking in strange places.

Guyana is a country located in the South American continent, and is considered an eco paradise, with virgin rain forests, waterfalls, rivers, and indigenous people living in the hinterland.     Link to Rainforest tourskaiguy

The coastal plain is small and borders the Atlantic Ocean.  The city of Georgetown (named after King George) lies on the coastal plain, and attracts many tourists who visit to admire its historic wooden structures (St. Georges Cathedral is reportedly the largest wooden cathedral in the world). st georges

One such visitor was an eighteen year old British citizen, who arrived in Georgetown in October 2015.

This was Dominic Bernard’s first trip to Guyana, and being an aspiring film maker, he brought his filming equipment and a considerable amount of cash with him.  He planned to make a film of his travels and return to England after a couple of weeks, but never showed up for his return flight.   His parents became alarmed and alerted a friend of mine to spread the word around, and to be on the lookout for him.  I assumed he was stuck in some indigenous village in the rainforest without transportation, due to floods or bad weather.

Traveling to the rainforest from the city is done by small aircraft and small boats or canoes, and transportation is unreliable in bad weather.   However, no one had seen him, nor could locate him, and he seemed to have disappeared without any trace.   Local law enforcement was contacted by his parents, and a nationwide search began.  Despite weeks of searching, nothing turned up, until a few days ago, when the police received an anonymous tip that he had been seen in a certain area of the coastal city.

A frantic search in that area by a team of law enforcement officers revealed horrible and tragic results.   Dominic’s partly decomposed body was found in a shallow grave.  He had been robbed of all his possessions and murdered on the very day he arrived in the city.   Everyone was devastated by this heinous crime, and terrible tragedy, and the police launched a massive investigation.  They found and arrested two people who had picked up Domenic from the airport, drove him to the city, and then lured him to his death in a wooded area on a filming pretext.airport

This sad and unfortunate incident is not usual in this small historic city, but the fact that it did happen has, not surprisingly, cast shock and fear into many tourists.

Could this tragic situation have been avoided?   From my experience as a trekker in these parts, I think it could have been avoided, but bear in mind, this was a young impressionable film maker, inexperienced, and on his first trip to this region.

My advice to young trekkers:  research area thoroughly, contact local embassies for safety information, plan your visit so your itinerary is supervised, never travel alone preferably, and have hotel transportation or authorized contact pick you up, preferably in a group from the airport.

Also, it is important not to reveal your money, keep expensive cameras in suitcases, and be wary of all strangers, especially those with unauthorized taxis who try to grab your suitcase and take it to their cars.  It is better to be careful than sorry.  And I hope this sad story will not keep you from your trekking.

Some other things to look out for:

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance was searched at the airport before boarding.  The airport official took his wallet, counted his money and gave it back to him.   On the plane, he checked and found $100 USD bill missing.  He alerted the plane security, and they searched the airport official….they found the $100 bill folded up and hidden in the official’s blue latex glove.   So please be careful trekking!





Categories: adventure travel, amazon, Amerindians, author, foreign travel, garden of eden, global, health, lifestyle, medicine, natural healng, natural herbs, Photographs, photography, rainforest, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Missing in the Rainforest !

As I mentioned in my previous post, my parents told me the story of my visit to the South American rainforest when I was two years old.  During the day, I was in the protective care of a native Amerindian nanny, but one day I wandered out of the village compound without her knowledge.

village hut-michal zalewski

When I was discovered missing, my parents quickly organized a search party and frantically searched the area looking for me.  Fortunately, it was a small community where nothing went unnoticed.  Some Amerindians, who were making a dugout close to the river, had seen me in the company of an old man heading upstream in a canoe.

The search party set out in pursuit in several boats trying to locate the old man in the canoe.  The problem with a river search is that there are several streams or tributaries that connect to the river.  Each inlet had to be searched, so progress was not as quick as my distraught parents would have liked it to be.  But then their anxiety turned into excitement!  Some fishermen traveling in the opposite direction said they had seen us, and they also knew where the old man lived.  His home was on a hill in a remote area, hidden by the dense foliage.

squirrel monkeys-sakiwinki

My parents told me that when they arrived and rushed into the hut they found me unharmed and playing happily, surrounded by a variety of colorful birds, parrots, macaws, toucans, and sakiwinkis (small monkeys).  They also said I was reluctant to leave the hut because I was fascinated by all the birds and monkeys in the old man’s home.  The old man’s explanation was that he had seen me wandering alone, and he brought me to his home to play with his collection of pets.  He gave us a pet monkey and a macaw to take back with us.

Soon after this incident, my parents left the rainforest and never returned.

The first time my parents told me this story, I asked about the old man and why he was living in the rainforest. They said he was a harmless hermit who lived alone, hidden away in the rainforest for decades.  He spent his time gathering herbs and keeping birds and animals as pets. He was rarely seen due to his reclusive lifestyle, and no one knew why he decided to venture into the area where we were staying.

I always wondered if it was prolonged loneliness that drove him there, or if he was sent by divine intervention to save me from some wild animal or poisonous snake.  I have always wanted to go back to that area in the rainforest, but never did.  Perhaps, I will someday, because it is in my bucket list of treks!

guyana-rainforest-guyana times

Rainforest river

Categories: adventure travel, Amerindians, lifestyle, macaw, monkey, sakiwinki, travel, trekking, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Trekking for Gold in the Rainforest

My first trek was at age two.  It was a trek for gold and I was rewarded with a little piece of gold veined quartz for my effort.  My first gold strike!

Of course I have no recollection of my trek, but the story was told and retold to me several times by my mother who took me on my first journey.  Our trip would take us to the heart of the tropical rain forest where my father worked in a gold mine.

Peters Mine is located in Guyana, a country that is bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname.  Established in 1904, Peters Mine was the first significant producer of gold in Guyana.  It lies in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni region of the country, adjacent to the Puruni river.  The region is known for gold deposits and the river for alluvial gold, prompting pioneering gold seekers to venture into the area, on foot and in small boats struggling upstream against dangerous currents and rapids.rapids in cuyuni Brian sidlaukas-pre

Fortunately my trek was not on foot.  Accompanied by my mother, we were flown part of the way by a small single engine sea plane from the capital city of Georgetown.  It was my first flight, and thankfully I have no recollection of our precarious landing in the middle of a river, and being transferred to a boat that would take us up the river.  I was told the trip took all day, and was remarkable in itself.  One boatman positioned himself in the bow looking for hidden rocks, while oarsmen steered the boat clear of obstacles.

Sailing upriver was not a job for the faint of heart.  Apart from navigating over rapids, there were dangerous patches of water with protruding rocks or little waterfalls.  The boatmen would pull to the side of the river, unload the boat, and lift it out of the water.  Carrying the boat on their shoulders, they would trek up the side of the river until they found calmer water, and launch the boat again.  On the way back, the skilled and hardy boatmen would at times ride the dangerous rapids giving rise to local legends and songs about their bravery or foolhardiness.mazaruni rapids-guyana man

During the trip, my mother lost one of her shoes.  At one stop, wading over rocks with shoes in her hands, one fell and was quickly swept downstream.  When we finally arrived, her with one shoe, we were greeted at the boat landing by barking dogs and a scary warning.  One of the dogs had just been lost. A large snake (camoudi) had wrapped itself around the dog and pulled him over the landing.  The rain forest region is the habitat of many animals and reptiles, and dogs are kept in the mining compound to alert the residents of impending danger.

Our arrival also prompted a little celebration since guests were rare, and a two year old child visitor was a novelty.  Most of the guests were native Amerindian people of the region, and I was given a small piece of quartz with a vein of gold as a welcome gift.  We ended up staying a month under their hospitality…I will continue my story in another post.

native-indians-jonathan -wilkins

Pic by Jonathan Wilkins

Categories: adventure travel, lifestyle, travel, trekking, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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