Unfortunately, Cassie had to return to Georgetown and to her work at the university, leaving me to prepare for the solitude of the Lodge once again. The last week had been a bit of a holiday and I was having to force myself to get back into the system of pre-dawn wake ups.
I had a poor sleep on the night of the 27th-28th. My mind was structuring a blog in my head, and I felt compelled to get the thoughts out and onto paper (screen), but I think subconsciously, I was also quite excited to be reunited with Cassie.
After our water pump struggled to supply all our tanks – a sign that the river was getting low and we would need to move the pump further downstream at some point, we hopped in to our 4×4 to go and meet Mel, Ed, Cassie and co. Despite the shallow river, recent rains had made some of the local roads tricky to navigate, so we chose to go the long way around, for fear of getting stuck.
The countdown to Christmas was well underway at the Lodge. Presents had been wrapped, guest visits rescheduled, party invitations sent, and the main house was decorated with colourful paper chains and a savannah Christmas tree in the corner.
The elves had done a good job. And that evening we sat together and ate a Christmas meal of curried chicken and rice.
The weather is noticeably different here now. It can change in a matter of minutes, with the wind picking up, the sky clouding over suddenly, and the heavens opening in a 10-minute torrential downpour that sends everyone running for cover. The temperature is also a lot cooler, and more than once I have found myself having to sleep under a sheet.
Despite these downpours, the river continues to sink lower and Manny is now advising that we should transfer guests by vehicle rather than by boat. Even that will bring its problems, however. The trails and “roads” are rapidly becoming overgrown by vegetation as the wilderness seeks to reclaim its land.
I wasn’t the only guest to have arrived in Georgetown. As well as the December rains, a stroll through the mall, second-hand radio broadcasts, and exaggerated television adverts reminded me that despite the near-constant 30-degree heat, Christmas was imminent.