The preponderance of blooming flower gardens that greets one upon entering this relatively small and obscure community is like a breath of fresh air, after the usual stinking garbage heaps that besiege the nostrils on a daily basis in too many places.
Here, no garbage mars the landscape; instead beautiful flower gardens whisper welcome. Almost every house here has a garden, adorning the well kept yards.
This is tranquil, picturesque lower Kara Kara, sitting almost on the fringe of Mackenzie, Linden, and like the town itself, split down the middle by a waterway- not the Demerara River, but the Kara Kara Creek, from which the community derived its name.
Judging from the number of beautiful flower gardens, “Garden villas” would probably be an apt name.
Residents here seem to harbour a love/hate ‘relationship’ with the Kara Kara Creek, for while it has provided bountiful fishes in the past, and for water lovers, endless hours of pleasure cavorting on its murky surface, this creek also means flooding during the high tides, or periods of prolonged rainfall.
But for the children of this community the creek just provides pure unadulterated fun– no stress for them about flooding. As a matter of fact the higher the water, the better the swimming!
Every child in this community learns to swim, even before he can walk properly, residents boast. A recent visit certainly gave credence to this claim, as several children, some as young as three and four years old swam and dived to their hearts’ content. I sat on a log for more than an hour enthralled– watching them, briefly transported back to my own childhood when I used to swim with the same abandon. (How I wished I’d taken my swimsuit!)
But enough of diversions, I had to speak to the people here to learn more of this community that has always fascinated me.
Pastor Peter Croft of the New Wine Church, who has lived in the community all his life, was happy to talk to me.
“This community is about a hundred years old, and of course I was born right here. I remember as a little boy when there were only about four families or so living here. In those days the people were mostly Amerindians, but today that has changed.
“All the other races live here and of course there is a lot of interracial marriages.
“In the old days there were no roads here, but only ‘sirihies’(narrow trails)another resident,” pointed out.
There are no schools in this community, only a church and a few shops.
Croft said that Lower Kara Kara has virtually no crime, except for a few years ago when two women from the community were killed months apart. One of them was Mona Lisa Rigby.
Mona Lisa’s father, Galilea DaSilva, lives on the periphery of the Kara Kara creek, right next to the main landing, where people cross to get to the other side.
DaSilva’s eyes took on a far away look as he spoke of his daughter’s murder.
“She was killed right here,” he said, pointing to the bridge where the boats moor.
“But her body was found down the creek,” I countered.
“And that’s right below here,” he added.
DaSilva expressed his dissatisfaction over the case, and stated that the killer was freed because persons, who had seen the suspect leave the community that night, opted not to tell the police.
Residents of this community, either leave the area to seek employment in the gold mining industry, or become engaged in logging.
Those who opt to stay are mostly self employed crop farmers and poultry and pig rearers. There is hardly any fishing now, except for fun. “With the fish trucks coming in here now, people don’t have time to fish, they buy from the trucks.
“Years ago people used to fish,” Pastor Peter acknowledges. A few are also engaged in skilled labour like carpentry and masonry. Both Da Silva, and another resident, Toolsie Persaud, are skilled carpenters, and were proud to show off some of the houses they built. Persaud said that he has built about thirteen houses in the community.
People in this community seem very united and happy, their main grouses being the lack of street lights, and a deplorable access road.
“The internal roadways were recently done, but what about the access road- that needs to be done too. When it deteriorates further taxis won’t want to come in here, and if they do they’ll charge us exorbitantly,” a concerned resident pointed out.
One of the greatest challenges facing residents of Lower Kara Kara, is flooding which occurs during the high tides or periods of intense rainfall.
Periodic dredging only barely mitigates this threat. A resident was quick to point out that while dredging the creek helps, the situation can never really be totally rectified unless the ‘stockpiled’ sand from the old Kara Kara mine is removed from close proximity to the creek, and deposited elsewhere. It was also pointed out that the stuff that is dredged from the creek needs to be carted away immediately.
“If this stuff isn’t carted away, we’ll always be back to square one, because as soon as it rains again, the sand would be back in the creek, and voila- flood again,” a concerned resident remarked.
A few years ago, a landslide from the mined out area washed into the creek, and further exacerbated the situation.
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