GUYANA: NOSTALGIA: Great Picnic Spots! – By Geoff Burrowes

 By Geoff Burrowes

 There were- not far from Georgetown, some great spots for picnicking.

What do you need for a really enjoyable picnic? A beach is nice, preferably not too crowded; a safe place to swim; a ball, it may be a tennis ball (wimpuss), a beach ball or even a balata ball: a spot to play cricket or football, good company, people you enjoy being with; good drink; good food; and people who are willing to prepare it and make sure it keeps coming and also, but not absolutely necessary, good music.

If there’s no music available, the willingness to sing or play instruments helps, the picnickers don’t have to be good, just willing!

The places that spring to mind are the Sea Wall, the trench behind the Big Gardens, the Forty Foot and Triumph Beach, Buxton Beach and Clonbrook Beach; Redwater Creek; Madewini, Volunteers Creek, Uruni up the Demerara River and Santa Mission up the Kamuni Creek. There were also other creeks and swimming holes along the Linden Highway. I understand that since I emigrated entrepreneurs have developed beautiful resorts all over Guyana.

Not all of the places I mentioned were open for swimming , but if you chose your time of day carefully you could sneak in and swim before the authorities arrived and caused scatteration!

When we were small picnics were a great cause of excitement. The whole week of the picnic there was an air of excitement in the house as our mothers and the cook prepared the food and drinks. On the day of the picnic the drive up to the beach was filled with chatter and laughter and even the unloading of the goodies was more like fun than work.

Quickly changed and into the fresh, brown, cool Atlantic waves, where after taking a few experimental strokes we got down to the serious business of playing “donkey” with the tennis ball.

While we were splashing in the waves our mothers were fixing lunch and gossiping and there was lots of laughter around the blankets swiftly being loaded with tasty food and drink.

Lunch was lively with laughter and good natured teasing. But we kids couldn’t wait to get back to the fun and I’m afraid didn’t do justice to the goodies s painstakingly prepared during the week.

We couldn’t wait to start our cricket or football game and it was particularly fun when our fathers joined in, even when they hit sixes with ease.

The excitement, the fun and the exertion eventually took their toll and it was a tired group of children and our parents who climbed into the cars, at the end of the day. We someties sang and sometimes just sat and watched the East Coast scenery go by.

When we were teenagers the girls in our group who were far sighted and tended to do the organizing set up a picnic to Uruni. They hired a river launch and the previous day had a party cooking a large pot of curry. The day of the picnic we drove up to the dock at Atkinson, just past the base gate at Soesdyke. The launch that the girls had hired was moored alongside. It was sturdily constructed, maybe about eight foot across with a powerful inboard motor in the back and was artfully painted green with a roof that was white and lots of room for passengers and freight. I can’t remember now but it was probably named “Dancing Master” or “Demerara Girl”.

The captain was smiling and friendly and helped us load and store the curry and boxes of sweet drinks and Banks Beer and the cooler. The river was not as wide as at Georgetown and was darker from the vegetation that the creeks that fed it shaded. Thick green jungle grew on either bank. There was the occasional clearing with the customary house on stilts and a narrow jetty that gave river access and power boats or corials moored alongside.

The trip upriver was generously lubricated with Banks Beer and other drinks and we were in a rollicking mood by the time we reached Uruni.

It is on a curve of the river with an island in the middle. The picnic  spot is a white sand hill that sweeps down to a white sandy beach on the edge of the dark brown Demerara River. You can start running at the top of the hill and pick up speed until the beach where you can then dive far out into the cool brown water. Exhilarating!

We made a fire on the edge of the beach and put the curry pot on to warm up, while we played. The curry was delicious, with just the right spiciness and we washed it down with cool drafts of beer.

It was not until we boarded the launch for the trip downriver that we realized there was a worm in the mango! Fortunately it was getting dark when the first sufferer had to go to the toilet. Soon the need to go overwhelmed others and soon there were sufferers hanging over the side of the launch. The darkness clothed the sufferers in a degree of modesty but only until we passed a bauxite ship which illuminated the scene of suffering. They had the decency to quickly switch off the searchlight but I’m sure the ugly vision must have been etched in their minds forever! Unfairly, the only people who escaped the misery were those who had drunk copiously throughout the day and who should justifiably have been the first to be stricken.

It is shame that the memories of a great picnic should be sullied by what happened after!

The explanation after was that one of the cooks had added sugar which fermented in the heat of the day and the fire. Who knows?

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  • wally n  On 07/18/2021 at 4:46 pm

    I really enjoy your stories, people coming down on you, for having had good and pleasant experiences, or just having an opinion, kinda strange, don’t get it.
    stay well.

  • geoffburrowes  On 07/19/2021 at 10:44 am

    Thanks Wally!

  • Kman  On 07/20/2021 at 2:39 pm

    Worm in the mango, love it.

    Stay well in Canada, Cheers

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