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Life on Fort Island

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Pretty Debideen walks out of the island’s health centre with her young daughter and a tourist

It was once known as Flag Island because of the huge flag mounted on the island to serve as a guide for Dutch ships traversing the lengthy and mighty Essequibo River. Later, the name was changed to Fort Island- perhaps because it houses Fort Zeelandia, the ‘youngest’ Dutch fort in Guyana.

Centuries ago, the fort was constructed closer to the mouth of the Essequibo River because the location gave the Dutch West India Company a more strategic vantage point than the other fort used by the Dutch: Fort Kyk-Over-Al, located at the confluence of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni rivers.

Carla Mittleholzer

The island, three square miles in length and a mile in width, houses the Court of Policy too. This court was not only a Court House during the 17th century but a church and venture office as well. Really, Fort Island was a hub of some sorts as Essequibo transformed from a mere trading post to a Dutch colony. It is only imaginable that the island must have been busy with people during those times. And let’s not forget another characteristic of a Fort (and evidenced by the cannons present to this day), it was a place of warfare.

Nowadays, a resident of the island, Carla Mittleholzer related: “Life on the island is very quiet and peaceful.”

As the colony of Essequibo grew, and ownership changed from Dutch to the British, larger areas developed to advance the interests of the colonial rulers and the places like Fort Island were left neglected.

Farming and fishing became the main economic activity of the island, and due to its strategic location, islands further up the Essequibo came to trade produce. But the population dwindled.

And as time progressed and Guyana gained independence and continued to develop, Carla related that the already depleted population further dwindled because persons left the island in search of educational and occupational opportunities.

Carla, who is 54 years old, was born on the island and lived there all her life. She has seen the population move from about 200 to less than 100 for these reasons. But she was one that did not leave, for the simple fact that the island became a tourist attraction.

The dilapidated bird trail which Pretty hopes to revamp

“The only time we see lots of people here is when tourists come because there aren’t too many people living on the island now,” Carla told this newspaper.

On holidays and even on Saturdays and Sundays, there would be about “five jetboats” of tourists coming to the island, according to the woman. Each boat carries about 30 persons.

And during the peak tourism season- June to August- as many as 300 persons could visit the island some weekends and sometimes, even as many as 500 persons would visit the island for the week, she shared.

Tourists primarily visit the island for the requiems of the Dutch culture. In fact, the Court of Policy has been made into a Dutch Heritage Museum by the Guyana National Trust.

“I worked with the [Guyana] National Trust for 13 years now,” she highlighted and related that because she has a job on the island that she enjoys, she never opted to leave the island.

She is a guide on the island, and with her knowledge of the island and particularly of the Court of Policy, she is able to edify visitors.

Reminiscent of the olden days, Carla and her now-late husband also created a trading business on the island where they would ‘buy and sell’ goods for persons heading into Guyana’s interior locations.

Known as a local tourist destination now, there is still a semblance of a community living on the island. Perhaps, this adds to the appeal of the island because you get the Dutch culture juxtaposed with community life.

On the island, there is a health centre that serves other islands on the Essequibo River, as well as a nursery and primary school. Pretty Debideen resides on the island with her family and she is the local nurse but also works indirectly with the tourism activities on the island.

There is a dilapidated bird trail on the island, just before the Fort, where there are supposed to be scores of tropical birds that would amaze any person from your average tourist to expert birdwatcher.

By next year though, Pretty hopes that she and her family can develop this trail so that it can add to the aesthetic and overall appeal of the island so that many more tourists would visit.

Andy Kam is the manager of Old Fort Tours, a tour company that does tours almost exclusively on the Essequibo River. On the island, he chatted with Carla and Pretty as though they are old friends (and maybe, they are). He affirmed that maintaining a good relationship with the residents is paramount to offering a good tourist experience.

He explained that tourism must be engaged in a sustainable way so as to preserve the product (the island) and the people inhabiting it. Resultantly, the tour company has thought that it would be better to have the locals be tour guides, but this avenue did not work out as planned.

The company began training its own guides who would conduct the tours on the islands, and who could also function as guides on the islands visited subsequent to Fort Island.

Nevertheless, Fort Island is home to a small and close-knit community. And in some way or the other, tourism has become an economic activity for each person on the island- just like farming and fishing.

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Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a specialist latrine engineer for the PNC?

Easy Mars...why you startin shyte wid de bana dis early afternoon? ...   

Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a speci

 

 

 


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alist latrine engineer for the PNC?

WTF! lol. Jeez banna. did not know such a title exist. Nevertheless, sounds like an interesting little island. I must take a walk one of these days.

I would encourage everyone to go, lots of history. Was there In January. They restrict everyone from visiting the room where the Africans were hang. 

Stubborn as I am, I stay back and pushed open the door. It’s not the original hang room, as repairs were done but I guess they try to preserve the spot. 

B4F3420F-2BF8-4CB5-81C1-06051807C34EDave posted:

I would encourage everyone to go, lots of history. Was there In January. They restrict everyone from visiting the room where the Africans were hang. 

Stubborn as I am, I stay back and pushed open the door. It’s not the original hang room, as repairs were done but I guess they try to preserve the spot. 

 

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Essequibo Circuit Tour

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Experience the best of Guyana’s resorts

THE Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) on November 16 hosted its Essequibo River Circuit Familiarisation Tour for the media, as part of its Tourism Awareness Month of Activities.

The tour included stops at the THAG member properties and attractions namely: Fort Zeelandia (Fort Island), Saxacalli Reservation, Hurakabra Nature Resort, Municipality of Bartica, Aruwai White H20 Resort, BK Quarries, Sloth Island Nature Resort and Baganara Island Resort.

THAG President Mitra Ramkumar, who was part of the tour, said the purpose of the Familiarisation Tour is to give visibility to the facilities within this region and showcase their varied day tour capabilities, as well as to create awareness of the new product offerings within the Essequibo Circuit.

Aruwai White Water H2O Water Resort

He added that the tour is also geared towards informing on the importance of Heritage protection and the role of the stakeholders and to launch the Essequibo Circuit Tour by Old Fort Tours.

FORT ISLAND
The tour started at Fort Island, Essequibo River where the tour guide, Jamal Thomas of Old Fort Tours was on hand to oversee the group of media operatives during their visit to the Court of Policy.

There, they were enthralled by the well-preserved Dutch artefacts which are secured in glass showcases. The Dutch Heritage Museum, also known as the Court of Policy, provides a meaningful contribution to the country’s cultural heritage sector. It was opened on February 19, 2007, by the National Trust of Guyana. In its collections are Dutch bottles and other pottery unearthed from the colonies of Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara along with a number of maps and informational pull-ups charts; all of which aids in highlighting the relationships the Dutch had with indigenous Indians and the slaves they owned.

BK Quarries

Fort Island is located about 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the mouth of the Essequibo River and is home to about 73 residents, some of whom are farmers and fishermen.

The island has a nursery and primary school housed in one compound, a health centre and an army base (Coast Guard).

Fort Island also has a bird watching site (a trail) where many species of birds can be seen and is rich with flora and fauna.

HURAKABRA RIVER RESORT
This place which is a beautiful getaway for anyone, is outfitted with brightly painted wooden buildings with all modern amenities and is located about three miles from Bartica.

This resort has two cottages for overnight accommodation and bountiful trees compliment the surroundings which is well-kept.

On arrival, visitors are greeted with a cool rag to ‘cool-off’ and iced lemonade accompanied with cassava bread and a sumptuous boulanger dip.

It is one of those places that when you get there, you never want to leave.

Fort Zeelandia, Fort Island

Caretaker, Vidya Gopaul told the media that it is a natural resort which was opened about 15 years ago by the Nascimentos, and that she simply likes her job which entails welcoming guests and cooking.

She is assisted by Ameer, a friendly guy who takes you on the nature trails, jungle walk and also bird watching.

MUNICIPALITY OF BARTICA
The tour then moved on to Bartica, there the visitors were greeted by the Mayor Gifford Marshall, who even broke a meeting to accommodate us.

A tour bus which was arranged for the group since it was raining heavily, took the team around the town. There was a brief stop at the “Green Park” which is a lovely well-maintained garden-like place and the Golden Beach.

It was observed that the town has developed over the years and has many businesses.

Green Park, Bartica

Bartica developed from an Anglican missionary settlement, established in 1842. The name ‘Bartica’ comes from an Indigenous word meaning ‘red earth’, which is abundant in the area.

The Denham Suspension Bridge, also known as the Garraway Stream Bride, links Bartica to Mahdia.

ARUWAI WHITE WATER H2O WATER RESORT
On arrival at Aruwai, the team was welcomed with cool coconut water right out of the shell and by General Manager Lucresha Charles, who ensured there was an array of dishes and drinks available for sampling.

She told the media that the resort is man-made and was built on a sandbank by the owner. The resort stretches about five acres and is accompanied by its natural beauty of the beach.

Charles added that the resort has international chefs and well-trained staff to cater to all your culinary needs, along with very modern facilities including an outdoor jacuzzi, skiing, kayaking and other water activities.

The resort has a bartender service and fine-dining at its fully air-conditioned restaurant, lifeguard on site and it caters to accommodate any function in its spacious events hall.

BK QUARRIES, TEPERU/ITABU
This place is located in the Essequibo River and is about 15 minutes by boat from Bartica.

On hand was Office Manager Rickford Inniss, who led the group on a guided tour to Marshall Falls, a truly beautiful natural wonder.

The property is huge and has 130 workers who are housed in wooden houses named after birds. They benefit from free house-keeping, laundry services and meals.

BK Quarries blasts every two weeks and has a large-scale operation to supply boulders and other quarry products to BK’s construction projects and BK Marine Inc. via its tugs and barges, as well as to various locations in Guyana.

The place has a three-storey building with all modern amenities for overnight visitors. The residents rear their own poultry and even have two pets, a wild cow and a wild hog.

This place is simply breath-taking with an amazing view of the Essequibo River and even has its own police station which stores dynamite for blasting.

SLOTH ISLAND
Sloth Island is a quaint resort of pristine rainforest in the Essequibo River that is ideal for birders and holidaymakers.

According to Claude Benjamin, who welcomed the group, it is a private island getaway, with land and water activities, has hammocks and is like a paradise with comfortable rooms and equally delicious cuisine.

The feature of the island is the sloth, which was rescued and lives in a tree with a monkey in its natural habitat.

The owner, Rafel Adees said the place was just an island; a piece of land and 21 years ago he took on the project to make it habitable.

He related that it took years to build by dredging to prevent erosion. The island now stands on eight feet of sand and while it isn’t financially rewarding, he stated that a few visitors do come.

“It is my island, my legacy; a footprint I leave behind and it is a tranquil, peaceful place to unwind and find your inner self. Come, you may be touched by something here, look at the birds and feel the true serenity of nature at its best,” Adees said.

BAGANARA ISLAND RESORT
Densil Paddy told the group that the resort sits on 189 acres but only 1/3 of the island is being utilised for recreational purposes.

He added that they have several outbuildings which include a-15 room facility with 10 superior rooms and staff accommodations. Baganara House has five rooms, a restaurant area, bar, kitchen and sitting area.

Paddy stated that there are outdoor gazebos, a souvenir shop and a barbeque hut inclusive of a wide range of activities, and off-island tours.

He explained that there is an airstrip on the island, and as part of the Correia Group of Companies they utilise Trans Guyana planes to get visitors on and off the island.

Paddy related too that they prepare all local foods and have adopted the green initiative, in that, in terms of power usage, fuel and solar are also used.

D2 posted:

"The island, three square miles in length and a mile in width, houses the Court of Policy too."

How can it be 3 square miles in length? A square mile is one mile in length and one mile in width.

skeldon_man posted:
D2 posted:

"The island, three square miles in length and a mile in width, houses the Court of Policy too."

How can it be 3 square miles in length? A square mile is one mile in length and one mile in width.

Maybe he meant three square miles in total size.

kp posted:
skeldon_man posted:
D2 posted:

"The island, three square miles in length and a mile in width, houses the Court of Policy too."

How can it be 3 square miles in length? A square mile is one mile in length and one mile in width.

Maybe he meant three square miles in total size.

Bai, the man is GNI's Mr. Einstein.

Last edited by Former Member
VishMahabir posted:
Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a specialist latrine engineer for the PNC?

Easy Mars...why you startin shyte wid de bana dis early afternoon? ...   

Shit is associated with latrines. Mars fell into one.

seignet posted:
VishMahabir posted:
Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a specialist latrine engineer for the PNC?

Easy Mars...why you startin shyte wid de bana dis early afternoon? ...   

Shit is associated with latrines. Mars fell into one.

Damn! What a sight!

Dave posted:

I would encourage everyone to go, lots of history. Was there In January. They restrict everyone from visiting the room where the Africans were hang. 

Stubborn as I am, I stay back and pushed open the door. It’s not the original hang room, as repairs were done but I guess they try to preserve the spot. 

been to the island as alil boy.

seignet posted:
VishMahabir posted:
Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a specialist latrine engineer for the PNC?

Easy Mars...why you startin shyte wid de bana dis early afternoon? ...   

Shit is associated with latrines. Mars fell into one.

Unlike you and Skelly, born into shitting in latrines and the grass corner and wiping your ass with leaves, I never had that experience. If anyone had a chance of falling into a latrine, it would be the two of you. 

Last edited by Mars
Mars posted:
seignet posted:
VishMahabir posted:
Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a specialist latrine engineer for the PNC?

Easy Mars...why you startin shyte wid de bana dis early afternoon? ...   

Shit is associated with latrines. Mars fell into one.

Unlike you and Skelly, born into shitting in latrines and the grass corner and wiping your ass with leaves, I never had that experience. If anyone had a chance of falling into a latrine, it would be the two of you. 

You should try shitting in a latrine. The best shit experience you would have. Glad I had that bushman experience. It makes me appreciate what I have earned in life. Try it sometime. I take it you never pissed in one of those satellite public outhouses. 

Bai, shit duz back up into alyuh town ppl houses bcz many doan have de money to pay spectic cleaning trucks to empty out the shit tanks into the Demerara River. As for the sewer system, my goodness it stinks in alyuh houses. Imagine have shit smells all day long and years upon years. All dem town ppl shit fermenting into such a smell. Iz no wonder yuh such a shithead. GT is a shithole places full wid shitheads.

We Indians know good hygenie and we had Black Sanitary Inspectors who gave Indians ppl excellent certificate for health. 

Yuh seh yuh nah wan black man, suh dah mek up Mixed razz bettah than coolie and black man who shit a bush karnah and latrine whilst yuh had shit smells in yuh houses. Move yuh toilet outside like  indian ppl do today in Guyana.

 

 

 

 

 

seignet posted:

Bai, shit duz back up into alyuh town ppl houses bcz many doan have de money to pay spectic cleaning trucks to empty out the shit tanks into the Demerara River. As for the sewer system, my goodness it stinks in alyuh houses. Imagine have shit smells all day long and years upon years. All dem town ppl shit fermenting into such a smell. Iz no wonder yuh such a shithead. GT is a shithole places full wid shitheads.

We Indians know good hygenie and we had Black Sanitary Inspectors who gave Indians ppl excellent certificate for health. 

Yuh seh yuh nah wan black man, suh dah mek up Mixed razz bettah than coolie and black man who shit a bush karnah and latrine whilst yuh had shit smells in yuh houses. Move yuh toilet outside like  indian ppl do today in Guyana.

 

 

 

 

 

Siggy bai, heard when dem had backups, they wrapped the crap in newspaper and threw the waste outside the window.

skeldon_man posted:
Mars posted:
seignet posted:
VishMahabir posted:
Mars posted:
Demerara_Guy posted:

One of the numerous places to visit with historical development.

Did you go there when you were a specialist latrine engineer for the PNC?

Easy Mars...why you startin shyte wid de bana dis early afternoon? ...   

Shit is associated with latrines. Mars fell into one.

Unlike you and Skelly, born into shitting in latrines and the grass corner and wiping your ass with leaves, I never had that experience. If anyone had a chance of falling into a latrine, it would be the two of you. 

You should try shitting in a latrine. The best shit experience you would have. Glad I had that bushman experience. It makes me appreciate what I have earned in life. Try it sometime. I take it you never pissed in one of those satellite public outhouses. 

The man don't shit, he constipated.