Guyana collage

 

Guyana (Guiana) Tour

 

Guyana Cultural Tour: West Demerara, Parika

Demerara River Bridge floating pontoon bridge, Georgetown, Guyana Georgetown is on the east side of the Demerara River.  To get to the west side you can take a boat from the dock at Stabroek Market or cross a pontoon bridge ten kilometers south of the city.  Guyana claims that the Demerara River Bridge is the longest floating bridge in the world, but having travel in Washington State, where there are three floating bridges that are longer, the claim is dubious.  The Washington bridges are primarily concrete and use concrete pontoons and the Demerara bridge uses metal pontoons so we can settle that it is the longest metal floating bridge in the world.
House, West Demerara, Guyana House, West Demerara, Guyana House, West Demerara, Guyana House, West Demerara, Guyana

The population of West Demerara is mixed, but primarily of Asian descent. White with pastel pinks, yellows and blues seem to be the preferred colors for houses.  A lot of the house were festooned with flags.  The only Toyota Prius that I saw in Guyana was in this section.

House, West Demerara, Guyana House with Toyato Prius, West Demerara, Guyana House, West Demerara, Guyana Road and houses, West Demerara, Guyana
Hindu Temple, West Demerara, Guyana Hindu Temple, West Demerara, Guyana Hindu Temple, West Demerara, Guyana Hindu Temple, West Demerara, Guyana

The most common religious building along they route are Hindu Temples.

Hindu Temple, West Demerara, Guyana

Hindu Temple, West Demerara, Guyana

A treat for visiting around the holiday Deepavali (also: Depawali, Dipavali, Dewali, Diwali, Divali, Dipotsavi, Dipapratipad ) is Mandela that decorate the entrance to houses.  The media for the art is dyed rice. The common name in Guyana for the holiday is Dwali.  The name is translated as Row of Lights or Spreading of Light, but sometimes it is referred to as Festival of Lights.  It celebrates the victory of Goodness over Evil and Light over Darkness and falls on the Hindu Lunar New Year. Other parts of the celebration involve fires, fireworks, parades at night, putting out new flags and food.
Sai Baba billboard, West Demerara, Guyana Consistent with the dominate culture in West Demerara, there is a billboard with a larger than life portrait of Sai Baba (23 November 1926 – 24 April 2011).  The message is "Love All, Serve All."  Other than the Sai Baba Organization and its followers living in the area, I have not been able to find any direct connection between Sai Baba and Guyana. as in a visit by the Swami. The Sai Baba Organization is an active service organization.
Sari and Ghagra Choli shop, West Demerara, Guyana Guy-America Super Store sells furniture, appliances, paint, computers, cosmetics, toys and other house wares, West Demerara, GuyanaAmong the retails shops in the area was a clothing store that specialized in bright and colorful saris and Ghagra Choli.

The Guy-America Super Store sells furniture, appliances, paint, computers, cosmetics, toys and other house wares.  I believe that it is Asian-Guyanese owned.

Mosque, West Demerara, Guyana Mosque, West Demerara, Guyana Christian Church, West Demerara, Guyana Christian Church, West Demerara, Guyana

Reflecting the diverse population, there were also some Mosque, characterized by white buildings with dark green accents, and a few Christian churches of different denominations.

Rice Mill, West Demerara, Guyana Sugar cane used to be the dominate agro-industry in the region.  It is now on the decline and rice is on its ascendency.  Several of the large sugar mills have closed -- though sugar and its products (alcohol and molasses) is still a bigger part of the national export economy (2013)

This is a modest rice factory (left)

memorial sign for Kowsilla, at age 44 and mother of 4, she was “mowed down by a tractor at Leonora sugar estate, by a scab. West Demerara, Guyana.

Recalling the days and tragedy of bigger sugar, in Leonora, the is a prominent memorial sign for Kowsilla. The mix of indentured workers and sugar production in Guyana, in general, and in Leonora, specifically, has a long history of strife -- both the conditions themselves and the struggle to improve the conditions of the indentured. There were countless strikes and the first riots on estates broke out in 1869. Women's lead resistance against indentured servitude dates back to at least 1903. Even after indentured ended in 197 oppressive conditions persisted and were resisted. The apex came during the Sugar Strike of 1964 when Kowsilla, at age 44 and mother of 4, was “mowed down by a tractor at Leonora sugar estate, by a scab. She became the first woman martyr (or third, after two women shot on the estate in 1939) of the Guyanese working people movement.” Her death on May 6 is remembered for a woman who stood up bravely against a system of exploitation and oppression. .

Office of the Hon. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Housing and Water, Guyana This building is the Office of the Hon. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Housing and Water.  But it is the smaller sign to the right that is most interesting: It lists eight people, including the Minister of Human Rights, Minister of Local Government, Minister of Housing and Water, Minister of Home-Affairs and Minister of Labor, and state when people can meet them to share their ideas, issues and concerns.  The hours are every Friday, 9-11 AM, second Wednesday 9-11 AM, every Saturday 9-11 AM, last Monday 9-11 AM, and first and third Wednesday 9-11 AM, respectively.  It seems like remarkable accessibility.
The canals and kokers can be reminders of the precarious position and vulnerability of Guyana.  The blues and greens, vertical and horizontal, angular and curved, also create tranquil, pastoral, rustic, scenes with texture. It seemed to warrant at least one photo a day while we were on the coast.
Uitvlugt Secondary School, Uitvlugt, Guyana Girl student on their way from school, GuyanaUitvlugt Secondary School, Uitvlugt, Guyana (left)

Not far from the school I passed these two students on there way home.  They ask to have their pictures taken.  Such requests typically raise some questions and observations for me: Why to they want their image in my camera? It is nice that they have the self-confidence, self-esteem and freedom (from fear among other things) to have have a stranger take their picture.

Down the road from Leonora, at Uitvlugt, the sugar mill is still operating. There is a canal leading up to the factory that is used to bring the sugar cane from the fields in trains of punts.  At the factory, the punts were lift fifty feet in the air and tipped so that the contents tumbled on to belts and into the factory.

We were allowed to pass inside the gate to take a closer look at the factory -- from outside -- but no photography was allowed.  We were trying to figure out if they were concerned that we would capture some industrial secret from the 100 year old mill,  Or maybe they thought we would try to document working conditions.  We could see anything of the interior of the factory, but certainly the people loading the sugar cane into the factory didn't appear to be wearing any personal protective equipment; hard hats, safety glasses, ear muffs, etc.

Guyanese Heritage Museum, Tuschen Guyanese Heritage Museum, TuschenIf you visit the Guyanese Heritage Museum, it is likely that Gary, the owner and curator, will personally explains various aspects of the extensive exhibit (historic maps, prints, books, coins, stamps, bottles, jars and a vast array of assorted items.  The museum is small and compact, but easily worth an hour or two of perusing for the casual visitor -- and if you really have an interest in Guyana you will want to spend several times this much time here.
Main Street, Parika, Guyana

Fruit shop, main Street, Parika, GuyanaThe end of the road is in Parika, on the Essequibo river.  It is a town in transition.  New, multi-story buildings rise with some regularity (often banks) and fast food chicken restaurants with big, yellow, backlit awnings have arrived.  The transition is not complete (2013) as the backbone of the economy still seems to be small shops and kiosks.

hotel, Parika, Guyana

Snack shop, Main Street, Parika, Guyana Modern chicken restaurant, Main Street, Parika, Guyana Man, Parika, Guyana

Easting at Carol's Creole Restaurant, Parika, Guyana If you ever need a meal in Parika, we recommend Carol's Creole Restaurant.  It is recommended that you visit before late afternoon, when the choice of dish is still broad.
Boat, moorage, stalling, Parika, Guyana Boat, moorage, stalling, Parika, Guyana Boat, moorage, stalling, Parika, GuyanaThe moorage at Parika.  The boats come in two types: open top and closed top.  Bright, colorful paint patterns is part of the charm.
     

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