This felt different. In front of a sold-out Islington Assembly Hall, this seemed like an announcement. A declaration that a new band has arrived and is ready to take centre stage. Pioneers intent on moving the goalposts and pushing a genre deeper into creativity and experimentation.
It seems as if every week I write about how low the river has got, and yet it continues to decline. For a few weeks now, guest transfers have had to have been done by land, but even the river excursions are becoming more problematic.
Three retired British couples have arrived, and Brits being Brits, they want to drink beer. Although we sent Primchan to buy 24 cans from Yupukari recently, those have all now gone as well. Everyone will have to be satisfied with the complementary rum punch. Our present guests aren’t the first, nor will they be the last, to comment on how much I eat and ask in wonder “where does it all go!?”
With Mount Roraima and Venezuela behind me, the aching legs, sunburnt skin, and tortured feet a painful reminder of the worthwhile ordeal, I returned to Guyana to write my final chapter at the Lodge.
From the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista, I once again made my way to the Guyanese border, finishing a wonderful book on Krakatoa as we rumbled along in the early morning sunshine. A Chilean couple had also taken the coach and we shared a taxi to pass through immigration and then head into Lethem.
It was the final day of a music festival that was being held at Manari Ranch, and as nice as it may have been to attend, I had a lift to catch, back into the savannah.
A welcome change to the schedule has seen us going on a lot more early-morning river trips. I much prefer the river to the savannah, it is just an all-round more gentle and calming experience, and unsurprisingly, there is far more wildlife to spot.
Our British volunteer couple left, and the Lodge is less lively because of it. It was good having them around, as even with the influx of guests, rarely are they of a similar age to me or share similar interests. Even Anita has said that she will miss them, and all the friction from the first few days has been long forgotten. Hugs were shared and photos taken before they were bundled off to Yupukari.
Later in the week, I asked the staff to give feedback on the experience of having the volunteers living and working here alongside them. I don’t think anyone quite understood what they were supposed to do as the forms I got back all said pretty much the same thing, at times word-for-word what someone else had written. Most of the answers were variations on the example answers that I gave them to begin with. Maybe they saw the exercise as some kind of test. Either way, everyone was generally positive about the volunteers being here.