I am now one of those lucky Guyanese who have been given the opportunity to see all ten regions of Guyana. Region 9 has been the last region left for me to see and last Friday I boarded an Intraserv bus for my destination to Annai. As teachers the only time many of us travel is when we’re on Whitley Council leave, and my friend Ms Althea Thornton, the Headmistress of the Annai Secondary School had extended this invitation to visit. The journey took about 10 hours from Georgetown, and for me the most fascinating leg was passing through the Iwokrama Rainforest reserve.
We saw many agouties and about a dozen waracabras who didn’t seem shy at all. One ranger told me that the travelling distance from one field station to the other was about 75km, making me realize that Iwokrama could be as large as Trinidad. After leaving the reserve for a couple of miles the interior savannah land comes into view with the many foothills and a mountainous landscape giving a beautiful picture like that of an artist’s painting. I quickly remember the slogan used by the tourist association a few years ago: “You never knew Guyana was so beautiful.” Here I was not looking at a brochure or seeing pictures in a magazine. I was seeing Guyana’s mountains with my own eyes. The bus dropped me off at Bina Hill and early the next day I wasted no time in meeting the students of the dormitory. The Annai Secondary School dorms cater for more than 120 students, about two-thirds the school population. It takes in students from the North and Central Rupununi. I met students from the villages of Toka, Crashwater, Rewa, Apoteri, Fairview, Toushida, Tiger Pond, Surama, Sawariwau, Tiperu, Karasabai, Rukumutu, Yorongparu, Karimatta and those from South Central such as Parishara, Nappi, Yupukari and Katoka. Those surrounding villages from which the students travel every day include Aranaputa, Wowetta, Rupertee and Kwatamang. Those from Massara and Yakarinta also stay in the dorms.
I took the time asking some of the students to describe their village in terms of their size, beauty and landscape. One young lady from Surama boasted that her village was the most beautiful because of the view of the mountains surrounding it. Another young lady from Rewa said that her village had a view of the high Makarapong mountain in the background. It was at this point that a young man from Apoteri spoke with pride in his voice saying that his village had both the Makarapang mountain in the background and the Rupununi river running close by. It’s conversations like these that make me proud to be Guyanese. These students were selling the beauty of their villages by describing what they had to offer. Of the more than 120 plus students in the dorms most of them spoke either Macushi or Wapishana as their language. I also met quite a few who spoke fluent Portuguese, like little Carlos Roberts from the village of Karimatta. Carlos looked Portuguese but he’s really half Portuguese and half Macushi. He was born in Brazil but told me that he’s Guyanese. A young lady named Melissa told me that her village was four days walk from Karasabai, the host village for the next Amerindian Heritage celebration.
The Rock View Lodge in Annai which is about 3 miles from Bina Hill is also a great place to visit, and even has a tame tapir named Tommy who responds to his name. Mr Colin Edwards, an Englishman, who operates Rock View also did a great job in establishing the Oasis lounge just off the main road at Annai. Opposite the Oasis is a mountain with a well marked trail. In climbing its summit you are blessed with a bird’s eye view of Annai with the Kanuku mountains clearly visible in the background. It is also here that you can see the Makarapang mountain with clouds covering its top. This view made me realize that God took his time when he designed this part of Guyana. For me, apart from Kaieteur Falls, this is the spectacular scene my human eyes have seen.
On day three I took a quick trip to Lethem and visited the site of the bridge from Guyana to Brazil. It was great seeing both Guyanese and Brazilian soldiers working in harmony for its completion. In conclusion Mr Editor, I know that the majority of Guyanese may never be able to see most if not all the regions of their country, especially the more than 1 million plus living overseas. But the bottom line is that this country is ours and we should strive to see as much of it as we can. Many of us make excuses about distance and cost, while persons from outside of Guyana are enjoying what we have to offer.
I should point out that on both legs of trip a third of the passengers on the Intraserv buses were Brazilians, giving me the impression that there are hundreds of our Brazilian neighbours visiting our country every month. Next week some of the students from Annai will be visiting the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. Wish I could have been there. Fellow Guyanese, it’s time to see and know your country. After all you never knew Guyana was so beautiful.