Guyana collage

 

Guyana (Guiana) Tour

 

Guyana Cultural Tour: Kurupukari, Fairview

Ferry boat, Essequibo River, Kurupukari, Guyana Come from Georgetown you get to Fairview by crossing the Essequibo River by a ferry at Kurupukari.  If anyone noticed the pump on the left side of the boat expelling a continuous stream of water from one of the pontoons, no one seemed to ask any questions.  If the did I would bet they would get a reassuring, "There is no problem."  At least for our trip the boat made it across without a problem.  And, it was still in service when we came back for the return trip.
Small rural or community shop, Guyana Our groups are big, but we do what we can to support the local economy.  Kiosks like this are a typical form of shop in rural areas.  The choice is not extensive but you can find foods to keep the motors running and liquids to keep the pumps primed -- at least in an emergency.  How does coke and Vienna sausage sound as a snack?
tourists taking photo, Guyana Sometimes we are just like a group of tourists. Staying in the community provides and opportunity to walk around leisurely, meet people and learn things about the life and the economy of the village that never could be scripted.
Seamstress for school uniforms, Fairview, GuyanaThis woman (left) does embroidery on pillow case, handkerchiefs and other items. Hummingbirds and flowers are common themes.

The seamstress (right) makes school uniforms for the students in the community.  She also has a cassava farm.  When asked, which generates the most revenue? She was emphatic that it was growing cassava.

traditional house and solar panel, Guyana Many Amerindian communities in Guyana have been included in a program to install solar panels at individual house holds.  Besides be a subject for photography -- a modern solar panel outside a traditional thatched roof building -- we are told that they have made a real difference in the quality of life of people;  powering lights so children can do school homework more efficiently in the evening, charging cell phones that improve communications for business, crisis and personal connections, running laptop computers for teachers, health workers and others, with there myriad of applications, etc.
making cassava bread, Guyana squeeezing matapi, making cassava bread, GuyanaOn of the staples of the diet is cassava bread.  It takes a couple days make a batch of bread.  The first step is to peel and grind bitter cassava, put it in a long woven tube called a matapi and then stretch the matapi out so that is squeeze all the liquid (which is full of cyanide) out of the ground cassava.  The liquid can be boiled to where it looses it toxicity.  The resulting liquid is cassareep, which is a flavorite flavoring for meats and stew dishes.
making cassava bread, Guyana making cassava bread, GuyanaWhen the squeezed cassava comes out of the matapi it is in dry, cylindrical bricks.  These bricks are flaked apart and the contents toasted.  This is then pounded in a mortar, before it is spread and patted onto a flat cooking stone, and the final cassava bread is bakes.  One variety comes out like a thin crisp pancake.  Other varieties are thicker. Cassava bread is a great vehicle for peanut butter and guacamole.
Local technology machine for grinding cassava, Guyana One of the more back breaking and finger shredding steps in preparing cassava bread is grinding the raw cassava.  We saw a couple of local-technology, appropriate-technology machines to handle this step.  The machine here takes advantage of the leverage and gearing of a bicycle turn move a fan belt that spins a cylindrical grinders.
harvesting coconuts, Guyana mending fishing net, GuyanaAt one stop we lent a hand to help harvest some coconut (left).

A fisherman (right) used the shade as a refuge from the midday heat to work on repairing his fish nets.

Cashew tree, flower, nut Cashew nuts are also part of the agricultural economy of the village.  The have a much different flower and seedpod than I ever could have imagined -- the flowers are very delicate and the seed is very robust.
Fairview school, Guyana Fairview school, GuyanaFairview school, GuyanaAt the school most of the twelve grades share a large rooms.  Several grades are clustered together in different sections of the room.  Around the room there are displays of student's work illustrating lessons on various topics.
audience at school performance, Guyana school performance, Guyanaschool performance, Guyanaschool performance, Guyana
  During one visit, the school arranged a program of music and recitations for us where all ages performed. Most of the adults in the community came to see it as well.
Iwokrama forest, Guyana Venture a short distance from any of the homesteads in the community and you are back in high forest.  There are lovely trails to the river, out to farms and to other homesteads.  If walking in the forest is a peaceful feeling for you every trip is close to paradise.
Petroglyphs, Guyana, South America There are several locations of petroglyphs in Iwokrama and the Rupununi.  Many of the petroglyphs in this area are within the banks of the river and can only be seen at low water.  The reason for this is not well understood.  One explanation may be that the rivers level have changed over the ions.
Iwokrama Field Station, Guyana Iwokrama Field Station, GuyanaThese are the guest accommodation at Iwokrama Field Station.  They have electricity, showers, western toilets, beds, nets, and furniture.  The administrative building also has Wifi access.

The manager of the Iwokrama Field Station gave us a presentation on the parks goals of scientific research, conservation and sustainable management and development of the rainforest.

setting up hammocks and sleeping quarters, Guyana If you don't stay at Iwokrama, it is a little more DIY (do it yourself).  In the village there are no guest facilities with electricity, running water (there is a running river), beds, etc.  With a little ingenuity, we were able to hang our hammocks and nets and lived quite comfortably.

A lazy swim a couple times a day more than adequately passed for a bath.

meal, Guyana This meal is pretty typical of our meals along the way.  There is always plenty of food; rice or noodles, soup, several vegetable, fresh fruit (pineapple, papaya),  fresh fruit juices and cassava bread. Although during one visit to Kurupukari there was some kind of communications gap and a delayed dinner consisted of canned Vienna sausage and dry cassava meal too which you are suppose to add milk and sugar.  This can be part of the adventure of cultural immersion.

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