This was to be the first solid evidence than I had made bad footwear choices for this trip. Feeling the pressure of the trip's weight limitations, I took the minimum footwear I thought necessary. I packed light hiking boots (Merrills, which always seem to be too small once you leave the shoe store), some Keen flip-flops, and a new pair of rugged Crocs. I was wearing the Merrills when I stumbled, and the ankle support was not enough, apparently. I did not break anything, but the ankle would remain tender throughout the trip.
If I were going back to Guyana today, I would take better, more supportive hikers, plus a pair of beater tennis shoes (ones I could leave behind at the end of the trip), and some regular Keen sandals. In the heat, humidity, rain, and rivers your feet are damp a lot of the time in Guyana. Blisters and sore spots make it necessary to give your feet a break by changing into alternative footwear. Once my hikers became uncomfy, my choices were the Crocs (which raised immediate blisters), and the Keen flip-flops, which were neither safe nor rugged enough for the trails we hiked.
Just as I was regaining my composure after a litany of whispered, banned-from-the-radio words, we began seeing birds. Simultaneously it began to rain buckets. We stepped in lively fashion down the trail to a clearing where some open-sided buildings gave us shelter from the storm. When the rain quit, the bird activity resumed. Parrots, macaws, toucans, tanagers, woodcreepers, and a range of other feathered wonders caught our eyes.
A small flock of painted parrots (above) was foraging in fruit trees next to the path and a pair of yellow-billed jacamars (below) was hawking insects in an adjacent clearing. We all stopped to admire these cooperative birds and our reverie was broken, not by the rain re-starting (which it did), but by the prodding voices of our leaders admonishing us to finish the hike back to the boats (which we did).
The boat ride back to Iwokrama gave us a chance to cool off after the intensely humid hike. The cooling air actually made the sun enjoyable. Had we been stationary, it would have been another story altogether.
Back on the friendly grounds of Iwokrama, we split into groups—some heading off for a siesta, some hoping the solar-powered wireless would be working, and the rest of us off for—what else—birding. Wally lead us along the Screaming Piha Trail in search of Guyana's weirdest bird: the capuchinbird, or calf bird. We heard them on their lek, high in the canopy, and we got modestly good looks at these cartoony creatures, but the daylight was fleeing and the show was soon over for the day. I'll tell more about a subsequent encounter with the capuchinbirds in a later post.
When the coconuts were all gone, we had cold Banks Beer and watched the sun kiss the sky goodnight. Funny, my ankle felt fine at this point.