By Raywattie Deonarine
Essequibo – Guyana’s Cinderella country is perhaps the most calming part of Guyana and rivals only the picturesque Rupununi Savannah when it comes natural beauty.
Being born and raised on the Essequibo Coast has taught me to never take nature for granted. Here we appreciate nature and work in harmony with our natural environment.
Today, I am going to take you on a tour of our beautiful Essequibo Coast which has served, over the years, as a quiet escape for many. Whether it is a regular weekend or a long one, the Essequibo Coast is flocked with hundreds of “town people” dipping the black water at Lake Mainstay or exploring the Indigenous Village of Capoey.
The Essequibo Coast is located in Region Two known as Pomeroon-Supenaam and is one of the main portals to Guyana’s interior or “bush” as the locals call it. The Essequibo coast is an area that includes 60 miles of land that was once a sugar and cotton plantation but has now been converted to sprawling rice fields with a beautiful countryside look, majestic lakes, enchanting creeks, a rich colonial history, and a tremendous opportunity for business growth and investment.
It is hands down the home of the best coconuts in the world and of course the best duck curry money can buy. It is already an established fact that Region Two is home to the Pomeroon – one of the deepest rivers in Guyana along with the most hospitable people.
Most tourists are amazed by the lush, majestic expanses of land on the Coast and the interesting stories behind the lives of Essequibians.
Some of the most popular villages found on the Essequibo Coast are Supenaam, Aurora, Adventure, Zorg, Perseverance, Queenstown, Capoey, Bush Lot, Anna Regina, Mainstay, Paradise, and Charity.
So, come on a journey with me and let us explore the beautiful Essequibo Coast.
For an outsider, life in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region many seem boring or too slow while others may think it’s serene and green, but for those who grew up here, called it home, Essequibo is a place where many have topped the country at the Caribbean Examination Certificate (CXC) exams and made its name even more prestigious.
Life on the Essequibo Coast is peaceful and tranquil and offers a great escape with its cool and refreshing black water lakes and creeks.
Capoey Mission resident, 55-year-old Teresa Malcom told me that life here in Essequibo is nothing but the best. The older woman said that she enjoys the black water in Capoey and taking a dip in it is the first thing she does every mothing.
She said that waking up to the melodious chirping of birds, buzzing bees and splashing waves from the nearby black water canal is a norm for those living in the Indigenous community of Capoey. Families enjoy fishing, bird watching, and even plunging in the natural therapeutic black water, which is a popular component of the “Guyanese experience”.
Speaking with another Indigenous resident over at the Capoey Mission, 76-year-old Marve Alicock said that he grew up in the community and he appreciates living there.
Another resident, Murtle Roberts said it is her desire to see the community develop into one that thrives on tourism.
The women appreciate the funding of the Capoey Sun Rise Bakery which gives light to the village for women empowerment.
“Many of the women in this community are unemployed…So we are happy that a few were able to gain a job in the bakery…Most of us for a living depend on kurus and awaros which is always plenty in here. Many Essequibians, foreigners, and even many persons visiting Essequibo usually stop and purchase them from us.” Roberts said.
Anna Regina is the bustling capital and only town of the region. Described as Guyana’s “cleanest town” by residents, the sprawling township of Anna Regina on the Coast is being promoted by its residents as a “leading” example to other townships across the country.
Anna Regina got its name in the 18th century after the daughters – Anna and Regina – of a Dutch Plantation owner, according to the local folklore, perished by drowning close to the High Bridge which remains a landmark. The township also houses the Monument of Damon, who was hanged in 1834 as a result of rebellion by the slaves.
Prior to 1980, Anna Regina was the gateway to the Pomeroon River and a major centre of development on the Essequibo Coast. There were no roads from Bounty Hall to Charity, and the Pomeroon River had to be accessed through Lake Tapakuma. The Pomeroon was then home to the Court Hall and Police Station.
Anna Regina was supervised by Suddie, then the main administrative centre on the Coast, but with the promulgation of the 1980 constitution, which provided for regional system of Government, that situation changed.
The town is a home of a number of sites, notably the 1972 monument at Devonshire Castle which commemorated the first batch of East Indians indentured workers who were killed while protesting for better working conditions. Additionally, the High Bridge was built in 1816 to allow punts from the then sugar factory at Anna Regina to transport sugar, molasses, and rum to Port Georgetown for export to Europe.
The Anna Regina Police Station is more than 100 years old, while The Holy Trinity Anglican Church in the township is over 150 years of age. The town is the gateway to three Indigenous settlements, namely St Deny’s, Lake Mainstay/Whayaka, and Capoey.
Supenaam is described by residents as one of the smallest and oldest communities on the Essequibo Coast and one of the busiest ports on the Essequibo River. The village is located on the left bank of the Essequibo River at the mouth of the Supenaam River. While it is the home of fewer than 1000 people, on a daily basis more than twice that number move through it.
Many boat captains around the area said that the area is considered business-oriented because of the huge number of speedboat passengers that travel the Essequibo River.
Harrel Thomas, who was born and raised in Supenaam, described the community as friendly, peaceful, and quiet. He noted that many residents in Supenaam develop skills in boat transportation services, forestry, and mining up in the interior.
“Most family living in this area depends on boat services… it is the faster mode for a wild ride, with captains with years of experience. It’s not only a place for passengers, there is a beautiful place to relax at the waterfront where many families can relax take photos and enjoy the refreshing air of nature,” Thomas told this publication.
The highlight of the village of Charity is the marketplace where people from all over the coast come together on Mondays to sell or purchase goods.
Speaking with a resident on the Essequibo Coast, Shardah Alicock said “Charity is a place for fun, relaxation, shopping, and entertainment. Take a boat ride up in the Pomeroon and back down into Charity…you can take a sip of the fresh coconut water, fresh from coconut paddles down from the Pomeroon River. Chat with friendly and hospitable residents and indulge them in their way of life.”
From Pomeroon-Supenaam as the locals would say, the people are warm, welcoming, friendly and hospitable. An early morning drive along the Coast would treat you to sights of vehicles laden with goods, passing as early as 04:00h heading to or from Charity and Supenaam.
“Life here is good and it’s a huge blessing, only that you have to work hard to achieve what you want in life. It’s quite alright for me to work hard and achieve whatever I want in life because at the end I see the reward and can then relax and enjoy the best of life in Essequibo,” a resident said.
I hope this will prompt you to come and explore all that the Essequibo Coast has to offer so you too can find your getaway spot.