Stone carving of DNA by the indigenous people of Pacaraima and the mt Roraima dream lives on.
Well today breakfast was at a civilised 7.30 am with a plan to visit the local office of ICMBio (Instituto Chico Mendes – MMA) the organisation that looks after the Mt Roraima national park. This was amazing success with two great park rangers George and Jose ‘ponceano’. These guys could not have been more helpful – given that the park was established in 1989 and covers 116,000 hectares their budget is now cut so much that they cannot mount exceptions to monitor the park or even pay for the phone connection at their offices. What I observed was a master great lesson in diplomacy from George who first convinced the ranger that we were above board and compliant with all the regulations – this was followed by a outpouring of information from a couple of amazingly friendly and knowledgable guys. I watched George’s body language and as the conversation proceeded is went for closed and serious to open and laughing as the rangers reveal the state of the roads (we were definitely not driving there in the time we had), the local indigenous people (giving us names and direction to local tribal leaders) and finally what we had been waiting for phone number for ‘plane taxis’ that could take us into the foothills of my Roraima. Now George and Luis have to fly home in the early hours of Saturdays morning but Luis (M) and myself may still get the opportunity to sample the mountain …. Or at least the foot hills but as they say – we will what survives the first engagement !!
So after a great lunch at ‘Dona Rita’ a much visit if your passing !! We head to a local village the head of the village ‘Augustine’ told us that the community had moved to the region in the 1970s from Guyana and that since this time the surrounding forest had not been cleared. They also provided a guide, the head’s older brother (he had been head until recently) who would take us on a loop walk through the jungle where we could see ancient glyphs cut into stone. There are pictures of these below (for give the poor photography but the best my mobile can do) – they are amazing and include glyphs that look like DNA!!! The age of these is unknown but other similar have been dated to 7000 years ago – wow there is so much we do not know about this amazing countries history.
Just when it seems that the afternoon would be a gentle stroll in the woods things started to change. George said we need to leave the forest by 17.30, I jokingly responded that was this because of the jaguars that the guide had told us about – he said it was because that was the time the malaria mosquito came out …. and this was worrying since the community had suffered from a number of cases this year. Ok so I am slightly concerned by this – now we find scorpions and we are pointed to large spider holes. Then the guide suggest we cut up a path to get us back faster – this is a very narrow trail which goes up and down quiet severe ‘dips’ with clinging clay combined with some areas where we were clambering over and under fallen trees. This was quiet some exertion….but then someone step on a wasps nest……
What followed felt like a real life version of ‘supper Mario’’ as we dashed through the forest over obstacles, sometimes doing par-core being chased by wasps, trying not to grasp thorn bushes, avoid stepping on scorpions, trying not to put ones feet into poisons spider holes and having to leave the jungle before being caught by malaria carrying mosquitoes….. and if we didn’t get on out in time there was always the jaguars -all the time trying to power-up by collecting earthworms. I hope this will not come back to me in my dreams.
But we are all good with only Luis and myself having small bites. So to reward us tonight we are getting a take a taxis across the boarder and sample another cultures food since Venezuelan worms are off the menu.