‘GUYANA, the land of many waters,’ is a saying known by every school child, but to experience those waters first-hand is something I have grown surprisingly fond of, since my stronger phobia is having any contact with water. Being in the media profession, it is a
phobia I have learnt to confront bravely, since travelling is a must and given the terrain of the land of many waters, I have often been a guest in canoes, speed boats, small engine boats and ferries. It often gets easier at every boat experience, but my recent experience on the river of 100 turns is one that drowned all progress I’ve made.
I was preparing for my maiden journey to the Barima-Waini Sub Region of Moruca (Region One) and after being told I was going by boat, I had no idea what route the journey was taking, so my suspense reached the level of my love for adventure. I was then told that the water excursion would include a sojourn on the Pomeroon River, then the Atlantic Ocean then the Moruca River; it was my first on all three bodies of water.
The smooth sailing on the Pomeroon River relaxed my mind a bit, and I took the opportunity to admire the beautiful coconut edifices made of discarded coconut shells located in proximity to coconut plantations. The many villages of the Pomeroon made me realise how blessed our native land is, filled with a different ambiance in every region. The peaceful touch to the villages which was reflected in the eyes of the little children taking a splash in the cool water while their mothers do the laundry on their river landings, was indeed a soother from the heat of the sun. Their welcoming wave reflected the words of our motto: “One people, One Nation, One Destiny.”
Despite it was new territory to me, I already knew that we had ended our sojourn on the Pomeroon River as the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean was wide open as a hungry lion snatching at its prey. The smooth sail was now over and the angry waves of the ocean, a taste of the salty water and the sight of an open sea made me a little nervous. I have never traversed an open sea before as sighted shores always played comfort to me when my mind wandered to the eventuality of a tragedy. As the boat battled with the rough waves, I hardly even had time to think of a tragedy, but was only counting the seconds for the ordeal to end. Everyone else seemed relaxed and so I tried to blend in, but the steady beats of my heart, coupled with my short breathing and cold sweat sold me out.
Before long I spotted the mouth of the Moruca River, a narrow 10- mile stretch of water way almost hidden between light vegetation; mostly bamboos and mangrove trees. It was a cool encounter, almost as if we were in a cave. After a few turns and the captain’s swift response, thus putting the small boat in an upheaval, I became a little nauseated but more fearful when I heard that there were 100 turns and so we had approximately 90- plus more to go. The Moruca River is by far the most meandering river I have experienced. Not only is it supper curvaceous, but very shallow and narrow and while the captains’ long years of traversing it may allow for a little complacency with speed, some points are so shallow and the swamp-like mangroves and other vegetation are actually growing across, so the need to slow down while encountering these is a must and then the engine picks up speed again. It was like a roller- coaster on water, the bow of the boat was almost in a vertical position and while the beautiful scenery became more evident, I tried to take my mind off the winding and focus on the area.
The cluster of small riverine villages such as Kwebanna, Waramuri, Kamwatta and Manawarin had now taken my attention, but nothing was more picturesque than the savannahs bracing the river bed on the right. The beauty of the vast greenery of land pitching across the horizon could not have been contained in the lens of my camera and the beautiful red and white birds accessorising it with the mist of the hills creating a wall-to-wall carpet across seemed to be such a blessing of nature. It was a mixture of solitude and therapy itself.
After about 45 minutes on the Moruca River, the boat finally stopped at the beach of Acqueiro, a small satellite community in Santa Rosa, approximately two minutes boat ride from Kumaka, the administrative centre of Moruca. Despite there was about 50 more turns to go up the river until reaching close to the Venezuela border according to one resident, I felt like I had experienced the entire 100. Upon exiting the boat, I gazed at the savannahs, its awe, magnificence and beauty made the words of the national song come to life, “Oh Beautiful Guyana, Oh my lovely native land.” The land of many waters in indeed a land to behold, a land to experience and a land to love!