Tuesday, April 13, 1993

The Lethem Trail to Rodeo - 9-12 April 1993

Thirty-two hashers, two armed policemen, two drivers, and four mechanics drove the trail to Lethem at Easter 1993 in two Bedford trucks, Romex and a new truck just two days off the boat two days and still unchristened. We were joined in convoy by The Ultimate Warrior and rescued Rosco along the trail. It was a great trip.

This truck had just come off the boat two days before and remained unchristened.

4:00 p.m. at the British High Commission. Why are we waiting?

At 3:30 a.m. we stopped at a surveyor's camp twenty miles south of Mabura Hill for a little shut-eye. Roused two hours later for a crack-of-dawn departure, we proceeded to wait two more hours while the crew tried (unsuccessfully) to fix the brakes of the new truck.

We heard the trail was not in good shape, but this didn't seem so bad.

The next eight miles took eight hours.

Rosco had been stuck in a mud hole for two weeks with a broken winch. We helped pull him out.

It was late afternoon--twenty-four hours after departing Georgetown--when we got out of the last mudhole. There followed another three-hour stop trying once again to fix the brakes and then four more hours of bone-shaking travel over the sandy one-lane trail. The lead truck had almost reached the Essequibo River when at ten p.m. it entered an innocuous-looking puddle and stopped in the middle. Instant application of reverse gear shifted the truck only an inch or two. The rain started. Two attempts at using the winch failed miserably. A third attempt culminated in the winch parting, the engine stalling, and the lights going out.

Miles back, a bicycle had fallen off the back of The Ultimate Warrior. The truck had immediately reversed and crushed the bicycle. Upon viewing its remains the crew noticed that the truck's backspring had broken and needed immediate repair. These were attempted in the light of Romex's headlamps. After two hours Romex abandoned the broken truck and continued along the trail. When Romex finally came upon the first truck it was quickly decided that their situation was hopeless and they should be abandoned to spend the night in the swamp. But about midnight, Rosco roared up having been delayed by the need to replace its hub assembly. (Fortunately Romex was carrying an extra.) With Rosco acting as an anchor, Romex was able to pull the truck from the muck. Forty people settled down to spend the rest of the night in two Bedford trucks, in the rain, in a swamp, with lots of mosquitoes.

Next morning, after a less than comfortable night, the four trucks (The Ultimate Warrior having appeared in the wee hours with a makeshift repair to its backspring) were connected with tow-bars, the engines revved, and the sixteen-wheel drive train ploughed through the white-sand swamp.

Minutes later, the Essequibo River was reached and ablutions in the river were de rigueur for all who had festered in the back of the trucks for the last forty hours.

Dead on at 8:00 a.m. the government ferry appeared to carry us across to Kurupukari.

The last 130 miles from Kurupukari to Lethem were travelled at high speed along the new "red road."

Except for the obligatory stop at the customs checkpoint, almost exactly in the geographic center of the country.

We arrived at Lethem after spending 48 hours travelling a little over three hundred miles. The annual rodeo at Lethem, which was the prime objective of the trip, was already half over.

But we arrived in time to share a few drinks with the Prime Minister and Mrs. Hinds, who wisely chose to travel by plane.

Who would believe that this happy hasher just spent forty-eight hours in the back of a Bedford truck?

We spent the night at Rock View Lodge in Annai. The Prime Minister drove in to officially open the resort and shared a few more drinks with us. Seven hashers (mostly Europeans) opted out of the return journey and arranged with the pilot flying the Prime Minister's party to return the next day to carry them back to Georgetown. Guess who got back first. (hint: not them!).

GHHH Family Photo taken at Kurupukari. The only significant new obstacle on the way back was convincing the ferryman to cross the river on a holiday. He was successfully bribed with four malaria tablets and an old copy of the London Times.