‘Barbadiana Jones’ First Outsider to See Hidden Water Falls in Guyana Interior
Wednesday, 14 September 2011

BARBADOS - Some people call Damon Corrie a real life ‘Barbadiana Jones‘, a reference to the adventurous ‘Indiana Jones‘ a fictitious explorer of Hollywood fame. Corrie is of Barbadian birth and Guyanese Amerindian descent. He is well-known in local, regional & international circles for two things primarily – his promotion of Indigenous Rights and his promotion of Guyana as the 'premier Eco-Adventure Paradise' destination in the Americas.

In late August 2011 for his 19th anniversary as a regular visitor to Guyana he ‘celebrated‘ by mounting an expedition into a little known (even to native locals) area of the South Pakaraima mountains. He was accompanied by his Guyanese Lokono Arawak wife of 18+ years, Shirling Corrie. They both 'physically suffered' with their two Makushi guides and old friends - Floyd 'Sado' Davis and Marc Andries. However, they may have potentially uncovered yet another unique travel adventure destination in Guyana – albeit an extreme fitness level one.

Ex-Chief Kennard Davis of the nearest Makushi Village, Tapok, said that only 8 local Amerindians alive today have ever been to this area in the south Pakaraima Mountains. The area is rarely visited because the locals respect it as the legendary home of the ‘Water Tiger‘, an as yet undocumented Cryptid speculated to be a large member of the Mustelid family by Lisa Dowley of the UK based Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ).

Corrie who is also member of the CFZ noted that several large fish were seen in the lagoon in front of the cave the Makushi people say is the Water Tiger's den at the base of the main waterfall to the left (see photo).

He speculated that "fish might play a big part in the alleged water tiger’s diet" and that it might seasonally reside & hunt this remote area. Crabs seem to be the only other plentiful food item in this stream but Corrie affirms the available fauna is very "mustelid-like food."

Due to the fact that these waterfalls are a phenomenon of the rainy season only and disappear in the dry season – Corrie is the 9th known person alive to have seen (and the first to photograph) these waterfalls because it is extremely hard to reach the area in the dry season. The falls are much harder to reach in the rainy season when the hiking in the punishing terrain becomes twice as hard. His wife Shirling, became the 10th person known to have seen them.

“It is no comparison to Kaiteur Falls but its a beautiful sight to behold nonetheless – despite the severe hardships one must face to go to them and get back safely. In this area there are many ways one can die up there behind God’s back – so to speak. The only way in or out is by foot, and no emergency medical aid can get to you faster than 24 hours – and that is if they use the swiftest and fittest tracker in the closest village to rush to your assistance“ Corrie stated.

"Despite the dangers - the beautiful scenery, campsites, wildlife, exotic flora (that may have great potential as ornamental plants locally, regionally and internationally), and mountain pools under each waterfall that one can bathe, swim and relax in – made it all worthwhile for us."

Corrie counted twelve waterfalls of various heights naming four of them after his children. There now exists a ‘Hatuey Falls‘, ‘Tecumseh Falls‘, ‘Sabantho Falls‘ and ‘Laliwa Falls‘. He also named one - ‘Sado Falls‘ - after his trusted Makushi guide who like him is the only one to visit this area 3 times – each time with Corrie It was the first visit to the falls for Marc Andries.
The first and biggest falls encountered in the area are the 'Water Tiger Falls'. This one must be climbed before the smaller ones are visible at various points on this seasonal mountain stream.

“For centuries Europeans have been going to Indigenous areas and claiming they ‘discovered‘ the natural wonders there and naming these sights after themselves as if the locals did not see them before. Whilst I do not claim to discover what some of my Makushi brothers have seen before me – who is to say that I cannot name some waterfalls after some Amerindians too? Do you have to be 'White' to do that?” Corrie questioned.

"Many ex-Soldiers from places like Germany, USA, Canada, UK, etc., have traveled with me on my expeditions to Guyana’s interior and struggled to make it. All said it was the hardest trip of their lives – but worth the hardships they faced because of the natural beauty of places I showed them. It is definitely something for only the fittest adventure seekers to consider" cautioned Corrie.

"On this trip for example, I was accompanied by my wife who is quite 'slim and trim'. But due to a swollen knee and aching muscles, she was in pain for the 8 hours per day minimum we had to be hiking and cutting our own surihi through the mountainous jungles. At the end on the 4th day I asked her what was more painful, natural childbirth or hiking in this area with me? She said she would prefer the pain of childbirth another five times to the torment I put her body through to reach these waterfalls and back safely. She vowed to never accompany me on such a trip ever again."

"I believe her almost stepping on a 6 foot long rattlesnake just as we finally reached back down on the Savannas – after having to descend a 100+ meter rock wall where she was attacked by bees – might have made her reach this conclusion." Corrie said jokingly.

Corrie feels the main thing readers should take from the experience is that Guyana is one of the few places on Earth where a "truly adventurous soul" can still be the first outsider to see and photograph pristine natural wonders even in this 21st century.

"I encourage everyone to visit Guyana’s interior at least once in their lifetime. It is the greatest natural spectacle awaiting 'discovery' that I have ever found in my life – and I’ve visited half the countries in the Western Hemisphere. Not everyone is willing to put their body through some severe pain for days on end like me, but to be among the first to see truly off-the beaten track areas of Guyana I am willing to suffer the consequences for the reward to me is worth the effort, and those who think as I do seek me out to act as a guide for them."

Source: The Bajan Reporter
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