2015 Essay Winner
Guyana, Through My Eyes
by Victoryne Mohabir
Guyana, a country wedged gracefully in between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, crafted by God’s own hands is the place I call home. As a child, I view this diverse land of six peoples,numerous rivers,plains, mountains and valleys as rich in flora and fauna, food, festivals andformations that captivate both tourists and locals. Above all, Guyana has a splendid future.
Guyana, my native land is replete with flora and fauna that is unique and exciting and available for all to enjoy. In short, we are a biodiversity paradise. Actually, there are more than eight hundred fifty species of birds. From the cock-of-the-rock’s bright red crest that rises from rocky outcrops and the loud beautiful sounds of the colourful macaws that make a rainbow when in flight, Guyana is the perfect place, in my view, for bird watching. Then, there is the majestic harpy eagle that spreads its imposing wings as if Guyana belongs to him and the regular ducks and fowls that are reared for their eggs and meat. Other exotic animals such as the black and spotted jaguar, the yellow tree frog, several species of fish and the mysterious anaconda (camoudie) make Guyana their home. Then, there are plants that can be used for food, medicine, craft and infrastructure as well as the pristine forests which serve as a carbon sink and home to our most wonderful creatures; some of which are yet to be discovered. From the crabwood tree which provides crab oil and the rare and exotic Victoria Regia lily to the numerous fruit trees, Guyana is a jewel in the forest. It is always a treat to sink my still developing teeth into a ripe mango, a juicy piece of soursop, just softened sapodillas and wash it all down with some cool coconut water. In my view, Guyana’s flora and fauna is its beauty and trying to express it all may take decades.
I have travelled to the Caribbean, Australasia and North America and can conclude that Guyanese food is the best. Mainly derived from the six ethnic groups that comprise my homeland, Guyanese food is varied. Pepperpot from the Amerindians is quite a treat at Christmastime and no Old Year’s Night celebration is complete without the meal the Africans left us, cook-up-rice with all kinds of meat. I also enjoy curries introduced by the early East Indians especially with duck and pies, pastries and delicious cakes for dessert (European food). What a joy it is to eat chowmein and all other Chinese dishes from the number of restaurants here in Guyana or cooked by one of my parents. In my view, Guyana’s food is its diversity and just writing about it makes me quite hungry.
My Guyana is rich in cultural, religious and national festivals that came with the peoples who came through different circumstances. Mashramani (acelebration after hard work) is a colourful Carnival-like parade through the streets of Georgetown, our capital city which is more than two hundred years old. This festival commemorates our Republican anniversary. Then, there is the Hindu festival of colours – Phagwah. Patrons roam the streets and bathe each other in colorful abeer and abrack. Even non-Hindus join the fun as a reminder that we are on people from one nation with one destiny. From Deepavali to Christmas to Eid to Independence Day, our festivals provide a platform for us to celebrate as one. Surely, Guyana’s festivals is its unity, its strength.
Guyana’s land formations are unmatched. From rolling savannahs in the Rupununi to the high mountains in the Pakaraima range, in my view, Guyana’s land formations are its best kept secret. The majestic Kaietuer Falls stands proudly on the Potaro River making a statement of scenic beauty in our country. Then, the flat coastal plain with arable lands for farming houses the most beautiful historic buildings such as the St. George’s Cathedral and the Lighthouse which have existed for centuries. Our hilly areas are rich in bauxite as well as brown, red and white sand and clay. It seems as if God hand crafted my dear land. Truly, Guyana’s landforms is its best kept secret which should be told to the world.
Finally, this dear land of mine has a future that stems from its past. This country is developing vastly in many areas especially in the city clean-up project. As I travel from my home on the West Bank of Demerara, I would look out the window only to see many men working hard in the gutters, trying to clear away the mess even I may have made. As a member of my school’s ECHO group I am sure that Guyana’s future will be clean, green and safe for all to enjoy. My view of Guyana is one of promise.
2014 Essay Winner
Guyana, South America Undiscovered
by Kaitlin Rambarran
My country has many things for tourists to see and do and spending time in the Rupununi should be something that every visitor should want to do. I would like to share how I spent my time at Karanambo, Rupununi and my story could help visitors to do the same.
“ It was Thursday morning and I got up at 6.00am to go on my journey with my mom, grandparents and Aunt for Thanksgiving at Karanambo. We arrived at Ogle International Airport at 7.00 am and departed at 8.30. Besides Karanambo, other passengers were going to Annai and Lethem, also in the Rupununi. On departing, we flew over houses, cane fields and rice fields. About half an hour later we were looking down and seeing only treetops that looked like broccoli; it looked like we were flying over the broccoli for a long time.
When I arrived at Karanambo airstrip a wonderful woman and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Andrea and Salvador de Cairies, met my family and me. We were driven in an old land rover to the resort where Diane McTurk, known as Aunty Di and the staff at Karanambo, greeted us. Aunty Di is world famous for her work with otters in the nearby river. After I met all the staff they showed me to my room which I was sharing with my mom and aunty. The staff at Karanambo lives at the lodge with their families.
Whenever it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, they rang a bell so that everyone would know that it was time to eat. We were having a breakfast and I had a cheese omelet and sausage with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. After breakfast we were taken for a tour around the lodge. My mom wanted me to take a nap before lunch so we slept in a hammock. In front of each room, there is a hammock.
At lunch I ate my favorite food, which is curry chicken and roti. After lunch I took a walk around the resort to see the little huts that the guests stay in when they visit. Around and between the huts are lots of big mango trees and they were laden with many juicy fruits; I had some after my walk. I saw one macaw and one parrot in a small mango tree. The parrot and the macaw came down from the tree so I could feed them with cashew nuts. The parrot came on my grandmother’s finger and the macaw attacked her because he did not want my grandmother to hold the parrot. They were there since they were babies.
Evenings are for boat rides and I saw lots of black caiman on our ride. I saw about six giant river otters as well. There was also a baby otter living at the lodge. I saw four capybaras that are the largest of the rodent family. In the evening I went with my family to see the national water lily open, and we waited for about an hour to see them. That was exciting just seeing them open and turn to white. On one of the lily pads there was a small black caiman just lying there and not moving even though we shone a light on him. Everyone went back to the lodge feeling very satisfied.
Early the next morning we went for a drive on the old airstrip to see the giant anteater and her baby. She carries the baby on her back. Three men on horses chased the giant anteater towards us. I was scared and ran into the jeep. We took many pictures of the anteater and her baby. After that, my Aunty Andrea took me for a walk along the old airstrip road with her dog. Her dog’s name is Aster. She took me to see the anteater’s nest; they are hard as rocks. Aunty Andrea and I walked to look for more ants’ nests.
After lunch that day the family drove to a nearby village seven miles away, the village of Kwaimatta. On our way to Kwaimatta, the ride was very bumpy because the roads are not like the ones in Georgetown. We had fun driving to the village. The children of Kwaimatta ride or walk about seven miles a day to go to school.
When I arrived at the village I saw the children playing with toy trucks with two wheels instead of four and with soccer balls with no air in them and yet they were having lots of fun doing this. They were following me everywhere I went and were playing in my hair. My reason for going to the village was to give the children some things that I had bought for them with the help of my mom. The children were very happy with the gifts – some toys, books, and pencil cases with pencils, pens, erasers, sharpeners, crayons and also some clothes. It was a joy to see their happy faces.
Saturday was the American Thanksgiving Day and we had a great day with lots of food. The main dish was turkey. It was nice to see the children playing happily and to listen to them speaking their Makushi language.
In the evenings, after dinner, we would listen to some old stories about Karanambo from Aunty Di about her life there. You can hear the bats making noises in the roof at nights which was a bit scary for me at first but after spending three nights there I was not scared of bats anymore.
Our visit to Karanambo Lodge was unforgettable. I had a wonderful weekend and would love to do it again. I love the people of Karanambo and Kwaimatta and I am sure that tourists to our lovely country would have as much fun as I did in the Rupununi.