Rupununi Expedition: Part Two
So where was I? Oh yes! Sharing with you a minute journey of realisation I had when compared to so many adventures Guyana has to offer. You may be thinking I am going way overboard with this ‘Discovering Guyana’ initiative and as a youth I should be more focused on the budget and parliament but believe me, when you actually go out there you too will be awe-struck and captivated.
I believe that Guyanese need to build themselves from the ground up. Let’s face it; we are not a very proud nation. We always leave the country and when we do most of us disown our nationality. I wanted to find out what makes me Guyanese, what sets me apart from the world and what my country has to offer to the world. That is my philosophy on nationalism.
The journey started in the capital just over an hour after the scheduled time. Everyone was excited, so no one really complained. Driving at 100 km/h on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway was more exhilarating than the 40 km/h East Bank Demerara road. However, one could not help but reminisce on the people who lost their lives because of the same express highway.
After about an hour we made a turn over a hill and to my surprise the lights of Linden shone below. I don’t believe there is anywhere in Guyana where you can traverse on a grassy mountain top and watch civilisation and its beauty from a distance; reminded me of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
I had not visited Linden in a while so imagine how shocked I was to see the booming town life; shocked because from a general ‘city’ view, Linden is a town full of angry people. Linden’s night life was bustling and the quick stop we made was welcomed.
Leaving Linden, we headed toward Lethem and I can tell you now – do not travel on this road on a full stomach! Swerves and sways, bumps and stops are what await you. It was not a terrible experience, but a terrifying one and you don’t want to close your eyes, even though sleep slaps you in the face.
We stopped to freshen up at little villages along the way but when we finally arrived at Kurupukari Landing it was already dawn and the dazzling black waters of the Essequibo greeted us. From the landing one could see the mesmerising Kurupukari falls in the distance; a stretch of rolling marbles over black rocks.
On the other side was the Iwokrama Forests with signs informing that it was a natural reserve and as such no hunting, mining or forestry was permitted without authorisation. What I loved from this point onwards was that all road signs were in both English and Portuguese. I always thought that most Guyanese should be quadrilingual given that we are surrounded by Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish speakers. Here is where I actually saw evidence that our multi-ethnicity will one day be important to our place in International Relations between the Caribbean and Latin America.
A few miles later, we were at the Atta Rainforest Lodge which was the gate to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. After trekking through the forest and atop a mountain one would never imagine the beauty of the rainforest; the Canopy walkway is fantastic! I always imagined it to a tree and back but this was four walkways high above the forest directing a circle from tree platform to tree platform until once again you are on the mountain! It was beautiful dangling metres above the forest floor.
Back on the trail, there is really no borderline between the forest and the Savannahs but trust me, you will know when you have arrived. The grassy lands, the scarce trees and unbelievably high ant hills: All kneeling before the grandeur of the mighty Pakaraima Mountains.
It was a bit of a drive through the Savannahs but then you spot a distant blue mountain range and just as you are about to give up, there is Lethem.
The little Amerindian village of Lethem? Wrong! Lethem is now more than that misconception, Lethem is home to a diverse mix of Guyanese and Brazilians who refer to their people as Guy-Braz. Lethem is buzzing with huge businesses, clubs, restaurants, boutiques and for that particular Easter weekend Lethem was the Las Vegas of Guyana. I was not only honoured to be part of the rodeo celebrations but enlightened to see this side of Guyana.
If you have ever thought of going to the Rupununi Rodeo, stop thinking and do it. Time waits on no one.
It was momentous, stimulating, exciting – I am honestly not that good of a writer to describe such an event. I met some fantastic people along my trip and we all were shocked at what Lethem and the rodeo had to offer us.
After that well deserved weekend it was time to leave. The feeling you get returning to the city is electrifying and depressing; electrifying because you get to go back on that magnificent road trip and see the wonders of this God-gifted country; depressing because you know that in a few hours your adventure is over. But hey! Who says it has to be your only adventure? Kaieteur Falls, Pakaraima Safari, Bartica Regatta and Shell Beach are calling – and these are just a few on the list of exploring Guyana! (Jairo Rodrigues)