Letter to a Friend (Ralph) about the joys of Baracara Resort
Linda Rutherford The Chronicle August 1998
I never thought I'd live to see the day I'd be a tourist in my own country, but here I am, sitting at the bar - well-stocked I might add, - of the Baracara Island Resort, cola-coloured waters of the Mazaruni gently lapping the white sands of the man-made beach at my back. And to think it is said Guyana doesn't have white sands.
It is about 16:40 in the afternoon and I am still wondering at my good fortune and enjoying very minute of a well-deserved respite from what has turned out to be one hectic, out exhilarating day.
It all began with an early morning coach ride - my most enjoyable in recent years - from the Sandy Babb Street, suburban-Kitty offices of 'Whitewater Adventure Tours', to Cleo Da Silva's slipway at Roden Rust, some two miles south of Parika, on the East Bank Essequibo.
There were five of us in all when we started out the journey, inclusive of the driver cum captain, Mr Mike Stokes, and our guide, Mr Jim Holder. On the way, we picked up two remigrant families on holiday, one at Alexander Village, on the lower East Bank Demerara, and the other at Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara. A couple joined us at Roden Rust. In all, there were 22 of us, including children, making this 'day-tour', as it is packaged.
At Da Silva's, we boarded the 'Jav-Lyn', one of life's more luxurious modes of water transportation, and the smaller of two jet boats owned by 'Whitewater'. Five minutes later, we were idling just off Fort Island, long enough to give those who never before did, the chance to savour the remains of what once was our first seat of government under the Dutch colonists.
There was very little of interest thereafter, except perhaps, for the odd riverain homestead (television antennas and number of outboard-engined speed-boats indicative of each's level of affluence), the lone black, emaciated cow which glared balefully as we swept past Aliki (one of the many little islands which dot the Essequibo), and the low-lying cumulus clouds in the south-western skies.
Soon we were slipping past Stampa (home to a once vibrant timber trade between Georgetown and the hinterland), the massive spread of the 'Shanklands' tourist resort high on a bluff overlooking the Essequibo, and the quaint architecture on Two-Brothers Island, to stop briefly at Bartica (once considered the 'Gateway to the Hinterland') at the confluence of the Essequibo and Mazaruni Rivers.
The journey resumed to a wide detour around Bartica, taking us into the Mazaruni River, past the sprawling Mazaharally sawmilling complex at Skull Point and the equally sprawling estates of the Mazaruni State Prisons.
Directly across the river from the prisons, as the crow flies, lay the two-acre spread that is the 'Baracara Island Resort'.
The tide was still relatively low as we put into its ramp, enough to see the inky-black rock formations immediately left of its pristine beachline. From the water's edge, the resort looked cool and inviting, its earth-toned furniture in both wicker and upholstery-on-wood and generous array of live plants lending to the rustic ambience.
Developed from a nondescript swamp into an eight-room tourist destination, 'Baracara Island Resort' has been in operation now going on two years and six months. It boasts among its illustrious clientele, President Janet Jagan and Mike Atherton among other members of the English cricket team.
Lunch was a passive affair, with persons more eager to experience 'shooting the rapids' some 45 minutes upriver in the vicinity of the mineral-rich Marshall Bay area. There are three rapids in all - Tetruba, Marshall and Chester Break - each occurring in rapid succession of the other.
In times past, said Stokes, who is also a veteran miner, the Marshall Bay area, with a depth ranging from 60 - 200 feet, was a hive of activity and where most of Guyana's gold was recovered.
Operations, however, have now slowed to a halt in the area owing to a rise in the incidence of 'bends', a malady which afflicts divers who surface too quickly from such vast depths.
On our way to the Baracara Falls, a stone's throw away, right of the resort, we idled long enough the gape in awe at the enormity of the Mazaruni Granite Products Limited concession.
As falls go, Baracara is miniature in comparison, but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in pleasure.
And that is where we came from, just before I began writing this letter.