Apr 17, 2017 News
(Part Two of a series on potential tourism hotspots in Region Ten)
There’s a remote and beautiful village called Muritaro, situated up the Demerara River, some 25 miles from Linden.
Although Muritaro was not identified as a possible tourism hotspot, residents are adamant that this village has lots to offer, including exciting boat rides, sporting activities, including cricket and volleyball, and of course, nature walks.
Our journey commences at the Adams Boat Landing on Coop Crescent, Mackenzie.
The early morning boat ride up the placid Demerara River is a unique experience, the serenity of which is only intermittently broken by a few other boats making their way to Linden.
As we leave Linden, the houses along the banks on both sides of the river are scattered far and wide, interspersed with dense jungle forming natural barricades between each dwelling, eliminating the need for fences!
At each landing there is at least one boat moored. Some are the traditional paddle type, while others are powered by outboard engines. We’ve already passed a few of the latter and at least six paddle boats. Each time we approach a paddle boat, the driver slowed down to reduce the swells which can sink the smaller vessels. Its occupants were grateful for such thoughtfulness, and wave appreciatively.
Finally, we reached Muritaro, a community of some 300 residents, most of whom are Amerindians.
There are also quite a few persons of mixed race and at least one Brazilian, whose distinct accent is the only thing that separates him from the villagers.
But he considers himself a villager, having married one of the young women with whom he has been living for about three years.
He proudly introduces himself,’ my name is Elishad Santana Arco Verde, and I’m here for the past six years. My family came to Guyana about thirteen years ago, and after coming out of the air force in Brazil, I decided to come and see my family, who were in Bartica.”
Arco Verde said that it was while in Bartica that he was told about Muritaro by a few residents, who were working there.
He said that he became so enthused after listening to all that was said about the village, that he decided to visit and see for himself.
As fate would have it, Arco Verde did not just fall in love with the community, but with one of its residents, a beauty by the name of Stacy, whom he later married. He of course also ate labba and drank lots of creek water, so today he is a bona fide resident of Muritaro!
Eldo Flemming, the Vice Tashao of Muritaro said that there are just over three hundred and sixty persons presently living in the village.
The Primary School Health Centre and Village office are all located in one compound.
Less than 100 children attend the primary school. Their only mode of transportation to school is by boat.
Residents here are mostly engaged in logging and farming, while a few work outside the district in the mining sector.
Considered a gem waiting to be discovered, Muritaro is indeed a veritable “diamond in the rough”, in dire need of some polishing and promoting!
Watooka Club/Complex/Guest House
The Watooka Club/Guest House with its strategic location affording patrons access by both land and water is being touted as another tourism hotspot, providing guests with easy access to boat rides on the nearby Demerara River and also guided tours to our striking mined out sites.
The beautiful and pristine facility was established in the 1920s to accommodate the influx of industrial customers and shareholders, who came to the mining town of Linden (Mackenzie) to conduct business.
The club was later modified in the early 1940s, and a swimming pool installed on the spacious grounds. Later in 1985, the structure was rehabilitated by Guyconstruct, a subsidiary of Guymine, which was the name given to the Bauxite industry after its nationalization in 1971.
Guyconstruct was reportedly mandated to ensure that the original architecture be maintained. It was, and still is, to this day. The rehabilitation reportedly cost some $4.5M. The Watooka Club/Complex consists of two floors. On the upper floor can be found seven spacious self-contained rooms, with all modern amenities for a comfortable stay. Two executive suites, complete with private dining areas and sitting rooms, are also on this floor.
Guests are afforded the opportunity of relaxing and enjoying the tranquil Demerara River scenery, thanks to an eight foot corridor running along the outer perimeters of the rooms.
Two dining areas, sitting room and kitchen facilities are contained on the second floor. The dining and sitting room area are available for conferences, weddings and other social activities.
Prior to nationalization, the Watooka Club was the entertainment hotspot for expatriate staff and other senior personnel within the bauxite industry.
The expatriates would throw elaborate New Year’s Eve and Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners and Cabarets, reminiscent of the social activities they enjoyed in their homeland.
Nationalization, however, saw the social activities of the club gradually changing, to accommodate the cultural needs of a predominantly local management team, which took control after the exodus of the expatriates.
Watooka Complex Today
Still at its original location, at Riverside Drive, a stone’s throw away from the New Linden Hospital Complex, the Club, now referred to as the Watooka Complex, is still breathtakingly beautiful, and still exudes that colonial aura of yesteryear.
Huge palm and fruit trees surrounding the magnificent edifice, lend a truly exotic tropical atmosphere.
This ambience transports one to days past, when the economic landscape of Linden drew prospectors from far and wide.
However unlike days past, this magnificent place is no longer just reserved for Bauxite top brass and their families, or ‘highfalutin and aristocratic folk’. It is open to the general public. Gone are the days when the management of the Guest House effectively kept the lower classes in Mackenzie, in their places- which was anywhere else, other than on its ‘hallowed’ grounds.
The Watooka Complex today has now transitioned into “the place” for myriad entertainment activities, including weddings and birthday parties.
seminars and conferences are also hosted there.
For many couples getting married, the “guest house” or Club is the first choice, for hosting the reception, if finances allow. Even those with limited finances would scrimp and save to afford the hosting of such an important event at this facility. (Enid Joaquin)
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