Karanambu, motorbike, gold

in 2006, first heard of Diane McTurk and the giant river otters

        at Karanambu

longed to meet them

Sunday morn at Caiman House

the toshao stops by

he’s going there

i invite myself along

only my third ride ever

                on the back of a motorbike

scary and exhilarating to fly across savannah

on eroded rocky uneven red road

i try to move with bike

while thinking about risk


compared to in Canada

                where i would always wear a helmet

how much should i adapt to way things are here?

question for a bike ride or what i eat or what i say…

for now, just grip tighter

but love wind whipping hair, shrub whipping bare calves, ducking under lianas,

                beautiful view of green & tawny gold textures and PEI red and eyes streaming even behind glasses

its so wonderful to be alive and see & feel this

                 life can be taken at any moment,

                                                so enjoy

                                                balance risk & safety

at Karanmbu

watch giant river otters

blinded Buddy down at river plays with fish

gives wet sandy sniff & hug

                smooth silky soft fur

                no trace of fish

                just smells like pure river

though blind, he hops up stairs

                and follows the volunteers back to the Otter House

where the two loud babies

                yell for fish

Karanambu with rum punch  & mangoes & hammocks & good company

                no one leaves on time

                time slips by

                lovely & leisurely

the quick morning visit

                extends to lunch

expat returning Guyanese asks about my proposed research

                cautious, then we realize we agree:

                                no parachuting-in research

                                and lets build local capacity

                                to inquire & share learning


conversation turns to mining,

the new legislation will prevent small & medium sized gold mining operations

                                on rivers

larger companies tend to do less damage

                but what of livelihoods of miners?

i remark on violence it takes

                to wrench gold out of the land

the big machines and mercury poison

                harm done to satisfy a want, not a need

“go meet the miners”

                judge lest ye be judged

but again, we all agree more than disagree: mining is bad,

                                but need alternative livelihoods

then Ash calls me on the gold ladybug necklace i wear

                it hurts too much to explain properly

                this defensible hypocrisy

that when I arrived for Edna’s funeral

                August 2009

the first thing when i came into her daughter’s living room

i saw she was wearing Edna’s favourite necklace

                the gold ladybug

she asked her daughter

                to take it and put it around my neck

i haven’t taken it off since.

                it hurts & comforts me.

awkward to explain why i wear something i didn’t choose

                am i a hypocrite?

i wonder as i cling to the motorbike

                back to Yupukari over red road and green savannah textures

                tears not only from whipping wind.

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