So we landed and I exited the plane stretching and appreciating the environment. Here I was at the Kaieteur National Park. It was a very enjoyable 60 minutes flight.
It seemed that we had quickly zoomed from the city to forest but it was a beautiful transformation. The excitement was thick as our group went first to the Park’s welcome centre. I was the only Guyanese and the tourists from England, the US and Canada took an interest in the media badge hanging from a strap around my neck. I was more than happy to tell them about my life as a Guyanese over lunch; I’m a talkative young fella.
Soon we were preparing for the hike that would take us to what I like to call the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World. Through the forest and over boulders, hopping across puddles of water and dodging little critters, I was at one with nature and nature embraced me.
The trail was not easy to follow, branches roofed above and roots and vines snared our feet. At other times it was just the bare rock, part of the Guiana Shield, amongst the oldest geological formations on the planet, the guide said. He spoke through a megaphone, but I could hear one thing louder than his voice; a purr, ferocious but yet enticing. We were soon drenched, not by rain but by thick mist. The purr had become a roar, still melodic, like a bass drum. We walked around a bend of trees and there, up close and personal was the falls.
The roar was now a thunderous bellow of water rushing over the gorge and crashing down over 800 ft – the Kaieteur Falls, legendary for the story of an Amerindian Chief who sacrificed himself by rowing his canoe over the falls as a sacrificial tribute so that Makonaima would save his peaceful Patamona tribe from the warlike Caribs.
There are several angles from which to view the falls but it was not possible to take a photo of the entire length of the Kaieteur Falls. One would have to be standing a considerable distance from it, at its base or take a shot from the air. From the viewpoints of the gorge my camera was inadequate. There was one more viewing point, but our group did not have the opportunity to get to it. Maybe that would have been the spot to capture the monster,
Yes, she is a monster of a falls. Beautiful, captivating but terrifying; her roar, the power, the height she throws off, the gigantic and deepening gorge she dug. She is so terrifying that many crept on their stomachs to capture her plummet. I refused to go close, afraid that Makonaima might take another, though I could not help but adore her for the beauty she is; a gem surrounded by green gold. It was here I felt closest to God, where I felt the love of everyone I knew, where I felt the grace and majesty of Kaieteur’s magnificence.
We were soon kicking up into the air and the pilot allowed us to say goodbye, circling the falls before flying to Baganara Island. This was part of the package of Evergreen Adventures, and although my arrangement was a flight back to the city, I got the glimpse of another Essequibian beauty.
Even as I made my way back home, my adventure was not finished. It was just me and Captain Michael Hallim on the flight to Georgetown and I was in the co-pilot’s seat. Buckled up and excited, my eyes were glued to the GPS maps, mechanical steering, the numerous buttons, the screen and window that surrounded me. As we neared Georgetown, Captain Hallim shouted over the roar of the engines, “Where do you live?”
I pointed in the direction of a huge square plot of colourful rooftops.
He asked, “Diamond?”
He turned the plane in the direction of my hometown and asked, “Which street?”
I signalled “Sixth” and before you knew it he had turned the plane perfectly so I could see my house.
We were then flying over the cane fields at the side of the infrastructural development along the East Bank Highway, two different words side by side and into the borders of Georgetown. The plane descended, smoothly and before you know it I was walking through immigration and customs with a smile that was beginning to hurt my cheeks.
Thank you to Stacey Dos Santos, Visit Guyana, Evergreen Adventures, Trans Guyana Airways, Alvin Wilson and Michael Hallim for making this experience truly unforgettable.