Tired of being alerted to all that was negative in Guyana on the worldwide web, a couple decided to fight the bad with the good and created a space specifically designed to showcase all that was positive in the Land of Many Waters, giving birth to the Visit Guyana Facebook page.
Four years after its September 2012 birth, the page created by Chris and Stacey Rahaman has been able to satisfy the appetite of those hungry for all that is positive in Guyana and those eager to explore this great land.
The page—described by its creators as a “celebration of everything that is good in Guyana”—not only showcases breathtaking scenes of the country but also provides information on how to visit the locations, speaks to entertainment and how to enjoy fine dining among other things. Today the page boasts over 143,000 fans.
“We both realized that there was a lot of negative stuff out there online [and] having just returned from overseas we knew that people had a negative perception about Guyana because often, when they don’t know much about the country they would Google it and a lot of negative things would come up. So what we decided to do was to create a positive space that would promote all things Guyana that were good,” Stacey, who worked in tourism both locally and overseas, said in a recent conversation.
Given a chance, Chris and Stacey would talk about Guyana without pause. And if you were not in love before, their vivid descriptions would give you that giddy feeling, stars would appear in your eyes and you would be caught ‘hook, line and sinker.’
What was evident minutes into chatting with the couple, was their deep love for their country, and this is what keeps them plugging away. They are not just about posting beautiful photographs and providing the necessary information. Wanting to be true messengers of positivity, they have been travelling the length and breadth of this vast country, experiencing its rich, exotic and majestic sites and villages mixed with its diverse culture and heritage. So when they speak about Guyana, they do so not only from a position of authority, but from falling in love over and over again with Guyana.
“It [Visit Guyana] exploded… Within about a month from having about two fans it went to about 10,000 fans and it just kept growing from there,” Stacey said, adding that they soon realised people not only wanted to know about where to visit but about “the positive developments and about their fellow Guyanese accomplishments and about the culture, art, music…”
On any given day the couple would make about 12 to 14 posts and these would include photographs and videos among other information. In the near future, videos would have a more frequent presence as the couple’s recent Visit Guyana video was well received.
Visit Guyana is really a side job for the couple and one they came up with “out of love for Guyana.” They also have their real jobs and as such they have to balance between the two.
“But it has become less of a side job,” Chris, who had an almost tangible excitement in his eyes, quickly quipped after his wife described the page as their “side job.” He added that the page has resulted in many other pages being born and they do not view this as competition but rather it is all about “making Guyana positive.”
Outside of the page they own Christa Marketing Solutions Company which specializes in internet and social media marketing. They manage social marketing for a lot of well-known companies and they help to start up pages for companies, which would eventually be taken over by the companies’ marketing departments. “That’s where our bread and butter comes from,” Stacey said with a smile. Chris said they are currently managing about 17 pages but have created many more.
Apart from that, they have published their first magazine—Lime, Dine and Unwind, A Taste of Guyana—which is essentially a guide to many of the places where one can dine in Guyana. They are working on the second magazine which will include tours persons can take.
“It is more like a directory kind of magazine,” said Chris, but his wife, who appears to be the one more in love with what they do, succinctly described it as “a marriage between articles and directory… When they pick up this magazine all their questions about where should I visit, what should I eat, what should I do, where should I go… are answered…”
And the journey continues as there is now a website— http://www.undiscoveredguyana.com/ — where the motivation remains “to showcase all that is positive and beautiful in Guyana.” The website, which is still under construction but can be viewed, also gives young writers an opportunity to share their experiences after visiting various locations, and this aspect has been well received.
So well-travelled in Guyana that she and her husband could be considered experts on the various tourist attractions, for Stacey, the least visited location—but one which is extremely beautiful and has a lot to offer—is Shell Beach in Region One (Barima/Waini).
“People have heard about it but it is still not a heavily visited place…,” Stacey said, adding that it is not just the beach that is the attraction but the surrounding area; for her it is one of the most beautiful places she has visited in Guyana.
“It has a perfect balance of forest… when you are there you feel that you are in a totally different world…You are in a totally different place, different zone where you can just sort of be at one with nature and be one with nature and just sit and gaze at the hills… and the people are so warm, friendly, inviting,” Stacey said.
“And then there is the beach,” Chis chimed in, and his wife further went on to point out that Guyana is not known for beaches but Shell Beach is “absolutely beautiful and then there are the four different species of turtles that nest there and that takes it to another level.”
She said while many have heard of the area they don’t know how to get there, when to best visit to coincide with the nesting of the turtles and what else they can do while there. Stacey said there is one reliable tour operator in the area and “It is all about community; you can see the turtle nesting, you can go caiman spotting, you can interact with the villagers and learn about their traditions and buy art and craft.
“That is a place that I consider to be extremely beautiful and it is not visited by a lot of people… To get there you can take a plane and then a boat but you can also take the trail if that is your cup of tea.”
She pointed out that many people visit Kaieteur Falls and the Lethem area but many have not experienced Shell Beach.
“There are lots of other places, too. Accessibility is an issue, but we are going on a journey to explore new places because there are a lot of waterfalls that are not photographed…,” Chris said and his wife added that they are trying to “bring the information to the people.”
They are in the process of acquiring a drone so that their photographs will better capture all that is offered at any given location.
“Even though we have been doing this for a while, every time we visit somewhere we are in awe of our own country over and over again…” Stacey said while Chris added that funding is an issue since it is expensive to visit many of the places.
Chris and Stacey are the parents of two young children, one of whom is allergic to insects, so it is difficult at times to travel. They have struck a deal that there will be times when they can visit only one at a time.
They promise that Visit Guyana will “get bigger and bigger” as they continue to explore the Land of Many Waters.