Boa vista – Sampling in the wet season
Waking up to the sound of tropical rain placed me into a contemplative mood. I found myself strangely comparing a sense of self-confidence and security at being in Brazil where my bank cards would work even though everyone now spoke Portuguese making it next to impossible for me to communicate with anyone except my immediate sampling team. It is interesting whether being able to pay or communicate is more important to one’s sense of confidence.
So breakfast was a planning session. George, Luis (Cunha) and myself had been joined by Luis Manual Hernandez García, a Venezuelan Phd student currently studying in Brazil. We planned to spend our Sunday going directly east from Boa vista, back tracking our journey of yesterday, to just before the border with Guyana then north-east 100 km on a dirt road and then come back sampling different ecosystems as we went.
Before leaving, we has to pick up water, lunch and Alcohol….sounds like a good picnic but unfortunately the Alcohol (95% Ethanol) was for worm pickling not to accompany the picnic!!
On the road out we crossed the Red Blanco where we could see small badges used for family gold prospecting, then farms of maize and soya with fields as far as the eye could see. What a difference from Guyana where we hadn’t seen any ‘industrial’ scale agriculture. Closer to the border, the farms stopped but I realised in Guyana there had been no fences or power pylons. Only on reflection I realised just how ‘Un-impacted’ Guyana had been.
It took us 3 hours of hard driving to reach the furthest point which was associated with an isolated farmstead. Luis and Gorge talked to the local lady who was hanging out laundry – her reaction about being a approached by four crazy guys searching for worms was to tell us the trail to the forest was flooded but we were welcome to dig holes on her farm and by the way if we followed the track there was a waterfall everyone used for swimming. So the proof of our commitment to the earthworm cause is there is no picture of a waterfall just a larger earthworm collection!!
The day was hard and long with an stunning sunset and even earthworm sampling in the dark – I should never had admitted to George I had a torch with me!!
The end was bittersweet – we heard from Rashma and she arrived safe in Georgetown with worms and only a small amount of leaked ethanol but George has had to take Luis (Manuel – the PhD) student to the hospital. He had come to the field with a nasty looking bite on his arm and we have to be sure it’s not serious before heading into the forest on the Venezuelan boarder…I am writing this waiting for an update from George.