Guyana collage

 

Guyana (Guiana) Tour

 

Guyana Cultural Tour: Rupununi, Annai, Bina Hill, Surama

Aerial view, Rupununi, Guyana Up until about the year 2000, what is now an all-weather road, used to be a cattle trail which stretch from the Rupununi Savannah, 400 miles, through Surama, Kurupukari, and Linden to the coast.  Through the first half of the 1900's the Rupununi had the world's largest cattle farm, but the only way to get the cattle to market was to walk them.  The market for beef has changed so the herd are now a shadow of their former selves.  The ranches and indigenous communities along the old cattle trail have now turned to nature tourism.
village, Rupununi, Guyana village, Rupununi, Guyana With the assistance of Shandell, our guide, as required by local protocol, we visited a Makushi community (the local indigenous people.).  For contrast, the pictures at the left show the village in the dry season (top left) and rainy season (bottom left).  As villages in Guyana go, this is one of the more compact. Incidentally, the Makushi are famous for the potency of their curare poison, the active ingredients of which paralyze the central nervous system, killing the prey without rendering it dangerous for human consumption.
kids playing, , Rupununi, Guyana environmental rules, Rupununi, GuyanaWhile the bigger boys played soccer on the field, some younger boys and girls played basketball on a nearby court.  A sign board in town listed the environmental rules for the community and the potential consequences of an offence.
watching television, Rock View Lodge Where there is a television in the area, the favorite pastime seems to be watching television.  The universal content seems to be sports and dramas (soap operas).  Both genre seem to draw a crowd any place in the world.
raw cashew nuts in hulls toasting cashew hullsIf you are around during the cashew harvest you can learn how it is processed: The first step is to pick the cashew nut, with its thick shell.  The shelled nut is then "roasted" but there is so much oil in the shell that flames leap high as the nuts are stirred.
toasted cashew hulls shelling cashew nutsThe charred nuts are then shelled one-by-one.  The shells are so tough that is takes a hammer to break them.  An expert can break the shell without breaking the nut.  The novice pulverizes everything.
toasting raw cashew nuts The second to the last step is toasting cashew nuts. 

The last step is to eat them.

meal, Rock View Lodge, Rupununi, Guyana Being so close to Brazil the cuisine here often has a Brazilian taste.  Besides good food, one of the characteristics of Rockview Lodge that can be very enriching if you take advantage of it, and adds value to a visit, is the availability of the staff.  The owner, Colin, joins clients at many meals and his staff is generally available to answer questions, and to lead informative excursions and nature / bird walks -- at no extra cost.
Bena Hills Institute We visited the Bena Hills Institute, learned about the Makushi Research Unit and met leaders of the North Rupununi District Development Board.  The board has projects/committees for Makushi research, education, health, fisheries, tourism, cassava, water, environmental protection and several other sectors.  The also have there own local radio station.
bicycle, high school student, Rupununi, Guyana bicycle, elementary school students, Rupununi, GuyanaBicycle seem to be a popular mode of of travel for both high school and elementary school students.  At the high school in particular, there were a lot of bikes parked.
house, Rupununi Savannah, Guyana

house, Rupununi Savannah, Guyana

house, Rupununi Savannah, Guyana house, Rupununi Savannah, Guyana house, Rupununi Savannah, Guyana

house, Rupununi Savannah, Guyanahouse, Rupununi Savannah, GuyanaHouses and building around Woweta, Rupununi, Guyana

Young girls bicyclist, Rupununi, Guyana bicyclists, Rupununi, GuyanaYoung girls bicyclist (left) and other bicyclists (right), Rupununi, Guyana
Man fishing with casting net, Woweta, Rupununi, Guyana Man fishing with casting net, Woweta, Rupununi, Guyana
Buff-necked Ibis camouflaged in the Rupununi vegetation. Buff-necked IbisThe Buff-necked Ibis (Theristicus caudatus), also known as the White-throated Ibis, is a fairly large ibis found widely in open habitats of eastern and northern South America. It is well camouflaged in the Rupununi vegetation (left).
Road safety message, Guyana The sign reads:
"Speed is a 5 letter
word, so is Death.
Slow is a 4 letter
word, so is Life
The choice is yours."
Road into Surama, Guyana Butterflies on the road, GuyanaThe foliage over the road into Surama created a tunnel (left).  Down on the road the butterflies congregated and fluttered around (right).

 

New Welcome Center, Surama, Guyana As of 2013. a new welcome center was being constructed in Surama (left).

I knew 'bicycle chic' was a big thing is style-conscious western culture, but seemingly without trying this bicyclists in Surama had it aced (right) -- it is a very pretty set of wheels.

Surama, Rupununi, Guyana Eco-lodge, Surama, Rupununi, GuyanaIn Surama, our local guide rode a bike.  She took us out to the site of the community's new (2004) "eco-lodge," which is several kilometer outside of the community.  It is being built with the help of a England-based volunteer assistance organization.  Because most visitors come to see the forest, not the community, the location is seen as advantageous.
Eco-lodge, Surama, Rupununi, Guyana Eco-lodge, Surama, Rupununi, GuyanaOn a subsequent visit to Surama, we stand at the Eco-lodge.  On that visit, as could be predicted, we met far fewer people in the community and saw much less of the local economy and lifestyle.  The following entries are from the 2004 visit, and none were visited when we stayed at the lodge.
store, Surama, Rupununi, Guyana house, Surama, GuyanaThe local store has cloths, cleaning supplies, books and school supplies and a few food stuffs.  If you need a larger selection you need to go over 100 kilometers to find a bigger store.
community center, Surama, Rupununi, Guyana The community center in Surama offers a variety of classes including those covering health, nutrition, business management and sewing.
young girls, Surama, Rupununi, Guyana As we spoke to "Uncle Theo," these girls grandfather, and a founder of the village, the girls played for an hour in the hammock.  As they tumbled and squirmed with each other in and out of the hammock the play was in almost constant transition.  One scenario seems to merge into another:  The hammock became their boat as they fished, the shorelines as they were river otters, their house for serving each other a pretend meal, their fort / hideaway from the strange visitors and then onto other sets I couldn't determine.
Meeting teachers, Surama, Guyana During the lunch break at the school we sat down with a few teachers and learn about the experience of being a teacher in rural Guyana.  We left with the impression that there is not much support from the central government. To teach in rural Guyana takes a lot of dedications, which these teachers clearly had.  These teachers were committed to seeing that their students got the best education they could, with scant resources they had to work with.
arrow points, Guyana Hunting is still one of the livelihoods in this area.  These bows and arrows are made locally.  Arrows and spears meant for different purposed have different tips.
Rainbow, Surama, Guyana

I didn't get to the pot at the end of the rainbow, but at time it almost seemed close enough to touch.  Even without the treasure to claim it was a gorgeous bicycle ride for an hour.  I was always on the sunny and dry side of the weather split.

   

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