Back at the hotel we sat on the terrace, sipped some 15 year XM rum, and watched all of the boat traffic on the river. The conversation was great. We relaxed for the remainder of the evening.
From one corner of the terrace, I could see the car ferry docked at the Bartica pier. I could also see two young boys that were fishing from the river wall. I never saw them catch anything, but they were definitely trying and having fun.
The Essequibo and Mazaruni Rivers were definitely active. It was obvious these were the interstate highways of the interior. Boat after boat went by, each carrying numerous people. We asked what happens when it gets dark. Elroy said the boats are supposed to stop running at night. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Most of the fatal boat accidents on the rivers happen at night.
For me, one of the more interesting boats was the “prison” boat. We had actually seen that moored at the Mazaruni Prison dock earlier in the day. They boat was passing by the hotel, loaded with cement building blocks. They were en-route to the Bartica pier to offload the cargo.
After the sun set, we decided it was time to venture into town for dinner. We opted for a Brazilian restaurant. We were expecting a restaurant where they continuously came by with different grilled meats, cutting them onto the dinner plate. That was only part of the story. The restaurant was open-air. The buffet portion was woefully under stocked when we arrived. One of the trays had some sort of meat in it. We all took a small portion. That was much to Leslie’s chagrin, it was liver. That is one meat that she just detests. Believe me, it did not go over well.
The wait staff did stop by with a little meat, but not very much. There was not any more being grilled, so we ate what we could and we headed back to the hotel. This was the only “clinker” of our trip, so I guess it was worth it.
We had another conversation and drink on the terrace of the hotel. When we went to bed, I noticed there were mosquito nets for each bed. My lesson learned on this trip was that if nets are offered, nets should be used. I ended up with dozens of mosquito bites on my lower legs and ankles. In the future, I vow to use the nets! I should have known that sleeping under the net would have only added to the wonderful ambiance of the river water gently lapping against the river wall. Other than being drained of some blood, I slept well.
The next morning I saw the car ferry depart, heading downriver for their four hour journey. I was happy to know we would be home within that same amount of time.
Leslie and I were fortunate enough to go with Elroy that morning to meet his brother. We also met the lady and man (auntie and uncle) that had raised him. They were wonderful people. We felt fortunate to have been able to meet them.
The taxi that picked us up from auntie’s home took us to Aunty Chan’s Massive restaurant, the same place we had eaten lunch the day before. We were able to get a cup of coffee to take back to the hotel. We took an extra one for Pat.
We were dropped off at the hotel. We spent time on the terrace, drinking our coffee and waiting for everyone to get ready to depart.
Leaving the hotel to go to the Parika-bound boat, we stumbled across the “bird races.” I have heard of bird races since I first arrived in Georgetown, but I had never gotten to talk to any of the participants. The “race” is not a race in the NASCAR-sense of the word. Instead, there are judges that determine which bird has the best warble. I must say, their songs are really beautiful.
The race we happened onto had six bird cages, each with one bird. Leslie and I stopped to talk to one of the racers. When we inquired where he had gotten his bird. It came from the jungle. They use many methods to catch the birds; bubblegum (yes, bubblegum verified by several sources), peanut butter in traps, and netting. Once obtained, the birds are trained for different calls. The birds are very valuable in racing circles. They can sell for tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, Guyanese dollars. For example, a $400,000GD bird is the equivalent of $2,000US.
Apparently one of the attractions of a race is betting. One stands to win good money if one bets correctly.
We did not stay to watch the race. Instead, we continued our walk to the Bartica pier to catch our speed boat to Parika.
Our journey back to Parika can be found in entry 133 – Downriver to Parika.