News & Events

October 2006

Liz's Adventures in Guyana

Liz's Adventures in Guyana

We loaded up two 4×4 pickup trucks, and at 7:00 am headed out for a 300-mile, nine hour drive on dirt logging roads to the savannahs of the Rupinuni. If you think filming out a car window on paved roads is difficult, try filming scenery on a pothole-filled dirt road.

My days started at 6:00 a.m. and ended around 6:00 p.m. As the seven-member United States Agency for International Development’s Peanut Collaborative Research Support Project (or USAID Peanut CRSP) team made its rounds to meet with Amerindian peanut farmers and peanut butter industry workers, I filmed. I filmed in several villages on the savannahs and in the jungles with names like, Aranapunta, Parishara, Paraquarnauwa, and Moca Moca.

I filmed peanut digging, picking and drying. I filmed as the agriculture experts offered advice to the Amerindian farmers on how to make the most out of what they had available in the fields. I filmed beautiful, smart, shy, schoolchildren doing their morning lessons, and receiving their peanut butter and cassava snack. I, or rather the camera, was a big hit with the school children. I interviewed farmers, schoolteachers, local politicians and the women of the cottage industries who make the peanut butter for the kids.

What I have is 17 hours of tape, filmed over 5 days, documenting the challenges and successes of the USAID Guyana Peanut CRSP. I’ll be back in Guyana in May of 2007 to film field preparations and the planting of the peanuts as well as interviews with key Guyana government officials. The 30-minute informational film should be complete by August 2007.

What do you need to know about filming in Guyana, South America? There’s no electricity infrastructure in the Rupinuni. Luckily, places we stayed had generators, so I could recharge batteries. Bring your malaria pill prescription, plenty of bug spray and sunscreen, be prepared to hike in the hot sun, in the steamy jungle, be prepared to carry all your gear yourself, and don’t think there’s a bathroom when you need it. Keep an open mind, a sense of humor, and have an adventurous palate.

I learned new interview techniques, learned to sleep without AC when it’s 78 degrees at night under mosquito netting, got dirty, bug-bitten, scratched by bramble, sun burned, and loved it. I can’t wait to go back and finish filming.