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Scorpion, Marmite, Crab-eating Raccoon

Thursday, January 1, 2009

An abandoned dugout, washed up by high water.

Upon returning from our adventure with the Victoria regia waterlilies, we made for our huts, using the headlamps that would be indispensable throughout this trip. Simple brick abodes, the huts lacked screens or door seals, and wildlife traversed them freely via the wide gaps beneath the thatched roof or under the door. Through the night, bats chittered and fluttered in the thatch, swooping in and out of the cabin, and occasionally a huge red wasp would plop down on us--the task being to brush it away before it could unleash its painful sting. I was thankful for the mosquito netting that surrounded our beds. As I was tucking it in, I heard the plop of what had to be a very large roach...or... something...falling off my bed netting and onto the concrete slab floor. You know the sound. Plop. Silence. Scuttle. I looked down, to behold a 2 1/2" long scorpion gathering its wits and then scuttling into the darkness under the bed. Oh, great. Great. Lullabye, and good night...I tried but failed to find it, so resigned myself to dreaming about it. For all I know it climbed right back up the mosquito netting and tucked itself under my thin mattress. It simply vanished.
Terry Moore takes five with a good ceegar outside his hut. He ain't afraid of no scorpions, but he does shake out his shoes before putting them on in the morning. Scorpions hate to be stepped on.

Communal meals at Karanambu are delicious and lively. The whole place has the feel of an African camp. Diane McTurk presides and serves the food, tells stories and makes conversation with her guests. She's had amazing first hand experience with rare mammals, as you'll see...

Wait. What's that in the little brown jar? Marmite? I'd heard of Marmite, and had always wanted to try it.
I took a tablespoon and daubed out a large gob, conveying it directly into my mouth, figuring it would taste like, oh, I don't know...molasses? It looked like molasses.

What followed was apparently hilarious to everyone but me. An indescribably foul, salty sludge scraped from the cracked pipes in the putrid sewers of Hell spread across my tongue. I struggled to gag it down, just to be rid of it, and not to have to spit it out in front of fifteen people. Bad choice. I should have spat it against the opposite wall. It was like digging a spoon into the drip pan of an old tractor and eating the oily sludge. # !@##@$#% that is FOUL!!

, purportedly made from used brewer's yeast, is an acquired taste. (Whatever says, I'm sticking to my Satan's sewerpipe theory). Apparently the English, with their world-reknowned culinary sensitivity, like to spread it on toast, but they use about one-tenth what I'd just ingested. Gaaagg. Glad I could give y'all a laugh this morning. Feh!I mentioned free-roaming wildlife at Karanambu. It was here that I met Bandit, the hand-raised crab-eating raccoon. You'll notice he's not Procyon lotor. He's P. cancrivorus.Much shorter of fur, beautifully rusty, and with the biggest feet I'd ever seen on any raccoon anywhere--look at those hind feet!!, this crab-eating raccoon was a whole different ball of wax than our North American beast. I was thrilled to make his acquaintance. Catlike, monkeylike, coonlike, coatilike, he was all of those, and like nothing else I'd seen. Big hands, I know you're the one.
He patrolled from hut to hut as if he owned the place, and I came to understand why he was allowed out only for short periods, under close supervision.

If I had to pick a favorite moment of the whole trip, I think it was when my roommate Erica and I were unpacking our suitcases, and there came a sudden fierce scrabbling as Bandit forced his tubby body through the narrow louvers of our window, an exhilarated grin on his simian face.
Finally popping through, he dove into my suitcase and began throwing clothes over his shoulder as he dug for the food he figured must be in there. He was just about to get to the beef jerky and power bars when I tapped him on the shoulder. HEY YOU! What do you think you're doing?

Biting you, that's what I'm doin'! Lemme be, woman! There's jerky in this suitcase, and I mean to find it!

Well, uh, help yourself, I guess...I'm not dumb enough to try to pick you up, you little hellcat. But that is my snack store you're getting into...Dang!

Erica and I laughed so long and hard that Pat, one of our hostesses, figured the little beast was up to his usual tricks, rushed over and unceremoniously grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and carried him out, twisting and snarling. Since he could force himself through the louvers, only a cage was going to stop him by Erica Gies

Such a bad, bad animal. I loved him, even as I realized that having a crab-eating raccoon break into one's hut and pillage one's suitcase isn't at the top of the most-delightful incident list for most tourists. Crab-eating raccoons are a little like Marmite. You love 'em, or you hate 'em.

The Swinging Orangutangs play tonight, and January 2, too, at the Marietta Brewing Company on Front St. in Marietta, Ohio. We been praktisin'. Happy New Year!


LOL We had the pleasure of experiencing Marmite in Tanzania last year. Unlike your moment, we were warned to be very judicious with the stuff. It actually wasn't too bad although I don't think I'd seek it out. Did anyone know what you were in for when you put that glop in your mouth?

I love the raccoon!

That's one adventuresome, critter-packed post...
And can someone in Marietta, Ohio, please get with the program, and video them-there Swinging Orangutangs for upload to YouTube!? ;-))

Marmite is bad enough. Bandit, although odd and entertaining, is a raccoon I could do without. Fling a power bar through the window and let him go for it. Then lock up. Call the police.

The worst nightmare - the plop and scurry under the bed. No thanks. Was there a hotel nearby with air conditioning and maid service? If so, I would have found it.

Happy Gigging!

Well, I'm not sure where you were but you certainly had an adventure and I don't envy you that mouthful of Marmite. Sounds like something a marmot pooped out! My husband did something similar when I told him I had heard on the news that cinnamon helps control blood sugar levels. He was at work when I called him and he happened to have a shaker fo cinnamon to sprinkle on his applesauce. As soon as I hung up he went over to the shaker and poured himself out a spoonful and popped it into his mouth. Before you know it he was sputtering and gagging having no idea that cinamon is drier that desert sand and not sweet on its own. I lauhged like crazy when he fianlly called me back. I think he spit it out into a nearby garbage can! I would have loved to see that since I am usually the one making a fool of myself!

Oh, Karanambu.... will you ever fail to entertain!?

Of course, the Otters usually show up as the main attraction there. But the whole dang place is crawling with critters (charming or otherwise). That's nay-cher for you.

Julie: your pix and stories are fabulous, and "big hands" is the best one-liner I've heard yet about the Guyana trip.

Erica (credited with one of the shots above) has finally posted her shots from the same trip. Mine are out there too for anyone seeking additional evidence that Guyana is nothing less than Nature-Gone-Wild. Photo-Ops, nonstop.

I had the pleasure of visiting Guyana in the spring and my company - Geographic Expeditions - is just starting to run tours there... check us out.

On the topic of Marmite- yes, that stuff is best enjoyed in extreme moderation. Me: I like it best very thinly spread on toast. My Guyana food surprise was a 'cherry tomato' that turned out to be something akin to a nuclear-powered chili pepper. Whoa-

Michael in San Francisco

Damn, gotta get me one of them Crab-eating Raccoons! That is one truly fresh mutt.

Fresh is the word, Catbird! Bandit leads with his snarly little mouth. I couldn't keep my hands off him--his hair was sort of coarse and weird, as if he'd had a buzz cut, and he was power-packed, and I had been away from Chet Baker just long enough to need a real animal fix. Turned loose in a rain forest, I'd probably make a pet out of just about anything. But I would not wish a tame raccoon, crab-eating or otherwise, on anyone. Born to raise hell, they are.

Michael, so delightful to hear from you, and thanks for the links to your and Erica's photos. Guyana truly is one endless photo-op! and such fun to share. Your photos are gorgeous, as are Erica's, and everyone should go check them out.

Kathie, anybody who tries to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon gets what he deserves. Funny story!

Cyberthrush, I hear you. If we could find a place to play that had acoustics only slightly better than that of an airplane hangar, we might be able to make an acceptable video. Not there yet, but we're looking. Maybe the Whipple Tavern.

Beth, nobody knew what I was up to until I was gagging on the glop. All the advice, and the uproarious laughter, came afterward.

Mary, the air conditioning and maid service occurred as bookends at the beginning and end of our trip. Once we climbed on the bush plane or into the boat, it was hot, sweaty and full of critters. And really, really fun.

I had no idea there even was such a thing as a crab-eating coon.
Thank you!

Happy New Years!

Oh that buzz cut raccoon on steroids is a hoot! A confession: I love marmite - but its only a thin schmear that you apply to said plain toast. Its sort of a flavor enhancer when not over indulging. The scorpion -- how many of those moments must go unnoticed. One night, returning from dinner I reposed for a second and fell asleep accidentally -- upon waking -- the torches had all been extinguished for the evening and I was sitting in the most absolute pitch black dark with my flashlight buried in my backpack across the room. I could not see the hand in my face. I reached out to the end table and tapped around until I found the candle. I knew the matches were perched in the holder part. I fingered the matches and as I raised them they fell to the floor. I was patting around on the floor in absolute pitch, claustrophobic inducing darkness and something wicked this way went scuttling over my hand and moving so fast that it created a breeze. It was sort of damned of I do damned if I didn't moment - I couldn't even see the net to put over my body.

Scuttling scorpions, marauding raccoons, and Marmite. Sorry, I am too much of a wimp to take a trip like this one. And, I'm not ashamed to admit it!

I will just enjoy your photos and travel tales, thanks.

One year, I will make it to Marietta for NYE and the 'Tangs.

~Kathi, wishing you and yours a Happy New Year

See, and I thought I was not a girly girl... I'd have been squealing at the thought of a scorpion under me, and even more so with a snarling raccoon in my suitcase. YIKES! Scarier than the Marmite!

Oh my God! I love that big footed scamp! What a neat critter. Do you suppose he might eat a scorpion? That would be handy. He's such a bad man with all of his bluff and bluster.
Verification word hateness. Now use that in a sentence.

Oh, I needed that dose of reality! I have been so envious of this trip that I failed to think about the living conditions. Scorpions, marmite, and 'coon, Oh My!

This is a great ending to a marvelous series of posts. And now I even feel better about not being there in person.

You do have a way with word " indescribably foul, salty sludge scraped from the cracked pipes in the putrid sewers of Hell"

Good thing my offive door was closed. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.

You guys have to do a Saturday gig so we can come to the party.

That's along the lines of Vegemite - the Australian near-equivalent to Marmite. Disgusting!

I agree with Patrick; Vegemite is vile.

Does Terry look vaguely like Papa Hemingway in that hammock shot??

Had you stayed in fancier digs, I'm sure they would have served the special edition Marmite made with champagne.

I kid you not.

Happy New Year.


Still he goes on...
Like a blister in the sun
Still he goes on
Big hands, I know you're the one


This is one place I would not be, seems like you tolerated it nicely, racoon are at the top of the list for most rabid, hope no one was bitten.

My South African friend LOVES Marmite. She claimed it was good; now I know that it's actually "An indescribably foul, salty sludge scraped from the cracked pipes in the putrid sewers of Hell spread across my tongue."


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