The Rupununi Ranchers Rodeo appeared to have lifted Lakeram Ropnarain’s spirits. These days, the Rodeo has that kind of effect on the modest Lethem business community. It has the effect of infusing a generous even if temporary spurt of commercial activity into an economy that ebbs and flows with the fluctuating fortunes of gold. The Rodeo and the demand for services of one sort or another by the people who had travelled to Lethem for the event two weeks ago, meant that Lakeram could anticipate some measure of respite from the challenging times.
His is a multi-sectorial business enterprise the centrepiece of which is a 30-room hotel, the Hotel Toucana. When we spoke it was filled to capacity and he could, as well, rely on patronage of the restaurant and bar. He wishes there could be a Rodeo every weekend. In the absence of that kind of activity the Hotel becomes a troubled enterprise, kept afloat by two other enterprises that he owns, Adventure Guianas, which offers tours to the interior regions of Guyana and to neighbouring countries and the Piraiba Lodge, eighteen miles south Kurupukari in the Essequibo river. These fortunately, hold their own even in these difficult times.
Prior to ten years ago Lakeram was residing in Better Hope on the East Coast Demerara. In 1998 he had commenced doing an administrative job with the National Parks Commission. His list of responsibilities took him….