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The Wanderings - The First Journey, 1812
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In the Wanderings section
First Journey 1812
Second Journey 1816
Third Journey 1820
Fourth Journey 1824
Curare
Preserving Birds
Glossary

First Journey
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

See also
Other Wanderers and Expeditions in Guyana


1st and 3rd JourneysMap showing the First and Third Journeys. (2)
(Click image to enlarge).

The First Journey in Waterton's own words......

CHAPTER I.
Object of the Wanderings. Demerara River. Wild animals. A white recluse. Fort St. Joachim.

----nec herba, nec latens in asperis
Radix fefellit me locis.

In the month of April 1812 I left the town of Stabroek to travel through the wilds of Demerara and Essequibo, a part of ci-devant Dutch Guiana, in South America. The chief objects in view were to collect a quantity of the strongest wourali* poison and to reach the inland frontier-fort of Portuguese Guiana (Brazil).

(*Wourali (curare) - a South American poison. Waterton introduced it into Europe where it was used in surgical operations as a muscle relaxant. The Indians used it to poison their arrows and blowpipe darts. Curare is produced from plants of the genera Strychnos and Chondodendron.)
■ More about curare


It would be a tedious journey for him who wishes to travel through these wilds to set out from Stabroek [now part of Georgetown] on foot. The sun would exhaust him in his attempts to wade through the swamps, and the mosquitos at night would deprive him of every hour of sleep.

The road for horses runs parallel to the river, but it extends a very little way, and even ends before the cultivation of the plantations ceases.

The only mode then that remains is to proceed by water; and when you come to the high-lands, you may make your way through the forest on foot or continue your route on the river.

After passing the third island in the River Demerara there are few plantations to be seen, and those not joining on to one another, but separated by large tracts of wood.

c The Loo (3) is the last where the sugar-cane is growing. The greater part of its negroes have just been ordered to another estate, and ere a few months shall have elapsed all signs of cultivation will be lost in underwood.

Higher up stand the sugar-works of Amelia's Waard, solitary and abandoned; and after passing these there is not a ruin to inform the traveller that either coffee or sugar have ever been cultivated.

c From Amelia's Waard (4) an unbroken range of forest covers each bank of the river, saving here and there where a hut discovers itself, inhabited by free people of colour, with a rood or two of bared ground about it; or where the wood-cutter has erected himself a dwelling and cleared a few acres for pasturage. Sometimes you see level ground on each side of you for two or three hours at a stretch; at other times a gently sloping hill presents itself; and often, on turning a point, the eye is pleased with the contrast of an almost perpendicular height jutting into the water. The trees put you in mind of an eternal spring, with summer and autumn kindly blended into it.

Here you may see a sloping extent of noble trees whose foliage displays a charming variety of every shade, from the lightest to the darkest green and purple. The tops of some are crowned with bloom of the loveliest hue, while the boughs of others bend with a profusion of seeds and fruits.

Those whose heads have been bared by time or blasted by the thunderstorm strike the eye, as a mournful sound does the ear in music, and seem to beckon to the sentimental traveller to stop a moment or two and see that the forests which surround him, like men and kingdoms, have their periods of misfortune and decay.

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The first rocks of any considerable size that are observed on the side of the river are at a place called Saba (Seba), from the Indian word which means a stone. They appear sloping down to the water's edge, not shelvy, but smooth, and their exuberances rounded off and, in some places, deeply furrowed, as though they had been worn with continual floods of water.

There are patches of soil up and down, and the huge stones amongst them produce a pleasing and novel effect. You see a few coffee-trees of a fine luxuriant growth, and nearly on the top of Saba stands the house of the post-holder. He is appointed by Government to give in his report to the protector of the Indians of what is going on amongst them and to prevent suspicious people from passing up the river.

When the Indians assemble here, the stranger may have an opportunity of seeing the aborigines dancing to the sound of their country music and painted in their native style. They will shoot their arrows for him with an unerring aim and send the poisoned dart, from the blow-pipe, true to its destination: and here he may often view all the different shades, from the red savage to the white man; and from the white man to the sootiest son of Africa. Beyond this post there are no more habitations of white men or free people of colour.

In a country so extensively covered with wood as this is, having every advantage that a tropical sun and the richest mould, in many places, can give to vegetation, it is natural to look for trees of very large dimensions. But it is rare to meet with them above six yards in circumference. If larger have ever existed they have fallen a sacrifice either to the axe or to fire.

If, however, they disappoint you in size, they make ample amends in height. Heedless, and bankrupt in all curiosity, must he be who can journey on without stopping to take a view of the towering mora. Its topmost branch, when naked with age or dried by accident, is the favourite resort of the toucan. Many a time has this singular bird felt the shot faintly strike him from the gun of the fowler beneath, and owed his life to the distance betwixt them.

The trees which form these far-extending wilds are as useful as they are ornamental. It would take a volume of itself to describe them.The green-heart, famous for its hardness and durability; the hackea for its toughness; the ducalabali surpassing mahogany; the ebony and letter-wood
vying with the choicest woods of the old world; the locust-tree yielding copal; and the hayawa- and olou-trees furnishing a sweet-smelling resin, are all to be met with in the forest betwixt the plantations and the rock Saba.

Some of the rich variety of trees:

  • the greenheart, famous for its hardness and durability. Read an article concerning a restriction placed by Britain on the import of greenheart and the impact on Guyana’s logging economy. (PDF un-edited version)
  • the hackea for its toughness
  • the ducalabali - surpassing mahogany
  • ebony and letter-wood, vying with the choicest woods of the old world
  • the locust-tree, yielding copal (copal is a more mature form of resin, somewhere between resin and amber. The word copal comes from the Spanish word copalli which means incense, a task for which copal can be employed.)
  • the hayowa and olou trees which produce a sweet-smelling resin.

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Beyond this rock the country has been little explored, but it is very probable that these, and a vast collection of other kinds, and possibly many new species, are scattered up and down, in all directions, through the swamps and hills and savannas of ci-devant Dutch Guiana.

On viewing the stately trees around him, the naturalist will observe many of them bearing leaves and blossoms and fruit not their own.

The wild fig-tree, as large as a common English apple-tree, often rears itself from one of the thick branches at the top of the mora, and when its fruit is ripe, to it the birds resort for nourishment. It was to an undigested seed passing through the body of the bird which had perched on the mora that the fig-tree first owed its elevated station there. The sap of the mora raised it into full bearing, but now, in its turn, it is doomed to contribute a portion of its own sap and juices towards the growth of different species of vines, the seeds of which also the birds deposited on its branches. These soon vegetate, and bear fruit in great quantities; so what with their usurpation of the resources of the fig-tree, and the fig- tree of the mora, the mora, unable to support a charge which nature never intended it should, languishes and dies under its burden; and then the fig- tree, and its usurping progeny of vines, receiving no more succour from their late foster-parent, droop and perish in their turn.

A vine called the bush-rope by the wood-cutters, on account of its use in hauling out the heaviest timber, has a singular appearance in the forests of Demerara. Sometimes you see it nearly as thick as a man's body, twisted like a corkscrew round the tallest trees and rearing its head high above their tops. At other times three or four of them, like strands in a cable, join tree and tree and branch and branch together. Others, descending from on high, take root as soon as their extremity touches the ground, and appear like shrouds and stays supporting the mainmast of a line-of-battle ship; while others, sending out parallel, oblique, horizontal and perpendicular shoots in all directions, put you in mind of what travellers call a matted forest. Oftentimes a tree, above a hundred feet high, uprooted by the whirlwind, is stopped in its fall by these amazing cables of nature, and hence it is that you account for the phenomenon of seeing trees not only vegetating, but sending forth vigorous shoots, though far from their perpendicular, and their trunks inclined to every degree from the meridian to the horizon.

Their heads remain firmly supported by the bush-rope; many of their roots soon refix themselves in the earth, and frequently a strong shoot will sprout out perpendicularly from near the root of the reclined trunk, and in time become a fine tree. No grass grows under the trees and few weeds, except in the swamps.The high grounds are pretty clear of underwood, and with a cutlass to sever
the small bush-ropes it is not difficult walking among the trees.

cutlass
Cutlass

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The soil, chiefly formed by the fallen leaves and decayed trees, is very rich and fertile in the valleys. On the hills it is little better than sand. The rains seem to have carried away and swept into the valleys every particle which Nature intended to have formed a mould.

Four-footed animals are scarce considering how very thinly these forests are inhabited by men.

Several species of the animal commonly called tiger, though in reality it approaches nearer to the leopard, are found here, and two of their diminutives, named tiger-cats. The tapir, the lobba and deer afford excellent food, and chiefly frequent the swamps and low ground near the sides of the river and creeks.

In stating that four-footed animals are scarce, the peccari must be excepted. Three or four hundred of them herd together and traverse the wilds in all directions in quest of roots and fallen seeds. The Indians mostly shoot them with poisoned arrows. When wounded they run about one hundred and fifty paces; they then drop, and make wholesome food.

Click to enlargeThe red [howler] monkey, erroneously called the baboon, is heard oftener than it is seen, while the common brown monkey, the the bisa and the sacawinki rove from tree to tree, and amuse the stranger as he journeys on. [The Nondescript was formed from one of these monkeys. (1)] Click image to see the Nondescript.

The crickets chirp from sunset to sunrise, and often during the day when the weather is cloudy. The bete-rouge is exceedingly numerous in these extensive wilds, and not only man, but beasts and birds, are tormented by it. Mosquitos are very rare after you pass the third island in the Demerara, and sand-flies but seldom appear.

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Courteous reader, here thou hast the outlines of an amazing landscape given thee; thou wilt see that the principal parts of it are but faintly traced, some of them scarcely visible at all, and that the shades are wholly wanting. If thy soul partakes of the ardent flame which the persevering Mungo Park's did, these outlines will be enough for thee; they will give thee some idea of what a noble country this is; and if thou hast but courage to set about giving the world a finished picture of it, neither materials to work on nor colours to paint it in its true shades will be wanting to thee. It may appear a difficult task at a distance, but look close at it, and it is nothing at all; provided thou hast but a quiet mind, little more is necessary, and the genius which presides over these wilds will kindly help thee through the rest. She will allow thee to slay the fawn and to cut down the mountain-cabbage for thy support, and to select from every part of her domain whatever may be necessary for the work thou art about; but having killed a pair of doves in order to enable thee to give mankind a true and proper description of them, thou must not destroy a third through wantonness or to show what a good marksman thou art: that would only blot the picture thou art finishing, not colour it.

Though retired from the haunts of men, and even without a friend with thee, thou wouldst not find it solitary. The crowing of the hannaquoi will sound in thine ears like the daybreak town-clock; and the wren and the thrush will join with thee in thy matin hymn to thy Creator, to thank Him for thy night's rest.

At noon the genius will lead thee to the troely, one leaf of which will defend thee from both sun and rain. And if, in the cool of the evening, thou hast been tempted to stray too far from thy place of abode, and art deprived of light to write down the information thou hast collected, the fire-fly, which thou wilt see in almost every bush around thee, will be thy candle. Hold it over thy pocket-book, in any position which thou knowest will not hurt it, and it will afford thee ample light. And when thou hast done with it, put it kindly back again on the next branch to thee. It will want no other reward for its services.

When in thy hammock, should the thought of thy little crosses and disappointments, in thy ups and downs through life, break in upon thee and throw thee into a pensive mood, the owl will bear thee company. She will tell thee that hard has been her fate, too; and at intervals "Whip-poor- will" and "Willy come go" will take up the tale of sorrow. Ovid has told thee how the owl once boasted the human form and lost it for a very small offence; and were the poet alive now he would inform thee that "Whip-poor- will" and "Willy come go" are the shades of those poor African and Indian slaves who died worn out and broken-hearted. They wail and cry "Whip-poor- will," "Willy come go," all night long; and often, when the moon shines, you see them sitting on the green turf near the houses of those whose ancestors tore them from the bosom of their helpless families, which all probably perished through grief and want after their support was gone.

About an hour above the rock of Saba stands the habitation of an Indian called Simon, on the top of a hill. The side next the river is almost perpendicular, and you may easily throw a stone over to the opposite bank. Here there was an opportunity of seeing man in his rudest state. The Indians who frequented this habitation, though living in the midst of woods, bore evident marks of attention to their persons. Their hair was neatly collected and tied up in a knot; their bodies fancifully painted red, and the paint was scented with hayawa. This gave them a gay and animated appearance. Some of them had on necklaces composed of the teeth of wild boars slain in the chase; many wore rings, and others had an ornament on the left arm midway betwixt the shoulder and the elbow. At the close of day they regularly bathed in the river below, and the next morning seemed busy in renewing the faded colours of their faces.

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One day there came into the hut a form which literally might be called the wild man of the woods. On entering he laid down a ball of wax which he had collected in the forest. His hammock was all ragged and torn, and his bow, though of good wood, was without any ornament or polish: "erubuit domino, cultior esse suo." His face was meagre, his looks forbidding and his whole appearance neglected. His long black hair hung from his head in matted confusion; nor had his body, to all appearance, ever been painted. They gave him some cassava bread and boiled fish, which he ate voraciously, and soon after left the hut. As he went out you could observe no traces in his countenance or demeanour which indicated that he was in the least mindful of having been benefited by the society he was just leaving.

The Indians said that he had neither wife nor child nor friend. They had often tried to persuade him to come and live amongst them, but all was of no avail. He went roving on, plundering the wild bees of their honey and picking up the fallen nuts and fruits of the forest. When he fell in with game he procured fire from two sticks and cooked it on the spot. When a hut happened to be in his way he stepped in and asked for something to eat, and then months elapsed ere they saw him again. They did not know what had caused him to be thus unsettled: he had been so for years; nor did they believe that even old age itself would change the habits of this poor harmless, solitary wanderer.

From Simon's the traveller may reach the large fall (Ororu), with ease, in four days.

The first falls that he meets are merely rapids, scarce a stone appearing above the water in the rainy season; and those in the bed of the river barely high enough to arrest the water's course, and by causing a bubbling show that they are there.

With this small change of appearance in the stream, the stranger observes nothing new till he comes within eight or ten miles of the great fall. Each side of the river presents an uninterrupted range of wood, just as it did below. All the productions found betwixt the plantations and the rock Saba are to be met with here.

From Simon's to the great fall there are five habitations of the Indians: two of them close to the river's side; the other three a little way in the forest. These habitations consist of from four to eight huts, situated on about an acre of ground which they have cleared from the surrounding woods. A few pappaw, cotton and mountain-cabbage trees are scattered round them.

[Waterton obtains some wourali (curare)]
At one of these habitations a small quantity of the wourali poison was procured. It was in a little gourd. The Indian who had it said that he had killed a number of wild hogs with it, and two tapirs. Appearances seemed to confirm what he said, for on one side it had been nearly taken out to the bottom, at different times, which probably would not have been the case had the first or second trial failed.

Its strength was proved on a middle-sized dog. He was wounded in the thigh, in order that there might be no possibility of touching a vital part. In three or four minutes he began to be affected, smelt at every little thing on the ground around him, and looked wistfully at the wounded part. Soon after this he staggered, laid himself down, and never rose more. He barked once, though not as if in pain. His voice was low and weak; and in a second attempt it quite failed him. He now put his head betwixt his fore-legs, and raising it slowly again he fell over on his side. His eye immediately became fixed, and though his extremities every now and then shot convulsively, he never showed the least desire to raise up his head. His heart fluttered much from the time he laid down, and at intervals beat very strong; then stopped for a moment or two, and then beat again; and continued faintly beating several minutes after every other part of his body seemed dead.

In a quarter of an hour after he had received the poison he was quite motionless.

A few miles before you reach the great fall, and which indeed is the only one which can be called a fall, large balls of froth come floating past you. The river appears beautifully marked with streaks of foam, and on your nearer approach the stream is whitened all over.

At first you behold the fall rushing down a bed of rocks with a tremendous noise, divided into two foamy streams which, at their junction again, form a small island covered with wood. Above this island, for a short space, there appears but one stream, all white with froth, and fretting and boiling amongst the huge rocks which obstruct its course.

Higher up it is seen dividing itself into a short channel or two, and trees grow on the rocks which cause its separation. The torrent, in many places, has eaten deep into the rocks, and split them into large fragments by driving others against them. The trees on the rocks are in bloom and vigour, though their roots are half bared and many of them bruised and broken by the rushing waters.

This is the general appearance of the fall from the level of the water below to where the river is smooth and quiet above. It must be remembered that this is during the periodical rains. Probably, in the dry season, it puts on a very different appearance. There is no perpendicular fall of water of any consequence throughout it, but the dreadful roaring and rushing of the torrent, down a long rocky and moderately sloping channel, has a fine effect; and the stranger returns well pleased with what he has seen. No animal, nor craft of any kind, could stem this downward flood. In a few moments the first would be killed, the second dashed in pieces.

The Indians have a path alongside of it, through the forest, where prodigious crabwood trees grow. Up this path they drag their canoes and launch them into the river above; and on their return bring them down the same way.

About two hours below this fall is the habitation of an Acoway chief called Sinkerman. At night you hear the roaring of the fall from it. It is pleasantly situated on the top of a sand-hill. At this place you have the finest view the River Demerara affords: three tiers of hills rise in slow gradation, one above the other, before you, and present a grand and magnificent scene, especially to him who has been accustomed to a level country.

[Noise in the night.]
Here, a little after midnight, on the first of May, was heard a most strange and unaccountable noise: it seemed as though several regiments were engaged and musketry firing with great rapidity. The Indians, terrified beyond description, left their hammocks and crowded all together like sheep at the approach of the wolf. There were no soldiers within three or four hundred miles. Conjecture was of no avail, and all conversation next morning on the subject was as useless and unsatisfactory as the dead silence which succeeded to the noise.

[This noise was later discovered to have been an eruption on St. Vincent om 1st May 1812, see Chapter 3.]

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He who wishes to reach the Macoushi country had better send his canoe overland from Sinkerman's to the Essequibo.

There is a pretty good path, and meeting a creek about three-quarters of the way, it eases the labour, and twelve Indians will arrive with it in the Essequibo in four days.

The traveller need not attend his canoe; there is a shorter and a better way. Half an hour below Sinkerman's he finds a little creek on the western bank of the Demerara. After proceeding about a couple of hundred yards up it, he leaves it, and pursues a west-north-west direction by land for the Essequibo. The path is good, though somewhat rugged with the roots of trees, and here and there obstructed by fallen ones; it extends more over level ground than otherwise. There are a few steep ascents and descents in it, with a little brook running at the bottom of them, but they are easily passed over, and the fallen trees serve for a bridge.

You may reach the Essequibo with ease in a day and a half; and so matted and interwoven are the tops of the trees above you that the sun is not felt once all the way, saving where the space which a newly-fallen tree occupied lets in his rays upon you. The forest contains an abundance of wild hogs, lobbas, acouries, powisses, maams, maroudis and waracabas for your nourishment, and there are plenty of leaves to cover a shed whenever you are inclined to sleep.

The soil has three-fourths of sand in it till you come within half an hour's walk of the Essequibo, where you find a red gravel and rocks. In this retired and solitary tract Nature's garb, to all appearance, has not been injured by fire nor her productions broken in upon by the exterminating hand of man.

Here the finest green-heart grows, and wallaba, purple-heart, siloabali, sawari, buletre, tauronira and mora are met with in vast abundance, far and near, towering up in majestic grandeur, straight as pillars, sixty or seventy feet high, without a knot or branch.

Traveller, forget for a little while the idea thou hast of wandering farther on, and stop and look at this grand picture of vegetable nature: it is a reflection of the crowd thou hast lately been in, and though a silent monitor, it is not a less eloquent one on that account. See that noble purple-heart before thee! Nature has been kind to it. Not a hole, not the least oozing from its trunk, to show that its best days are past. Vigorous in youthful blooming beauty, it stands the ornament of these sequestered wilds and tacitly rebukes those base ones of thine own species who have been hardy enough to deny the existence of Him who ordered it to flourish here.

Behold that one next to it! Hark how the hammerings of the red-headed woodpecker resound through its distempered boughs! See what a quantity of holes he has made in it, and how its bark is stained with the drops which trickle down from them. The lightning, too, has blasted one side of it. Nature looks pale and wan in its leaves, and her resources are nearly dried up in its extremities: its sap is tainted; a mortal sickness, slow as a consumption and as sure in its consequences, has long since entered its frame, vitiating and destroying the wholesome juices there.

Step a few paces aside and cast thine eye on that remnant of a mora behind it. Best part of its branches, once so high and ornamental, now lie on the ground in sad confusion, one upon the other, all shattered and fungus-grown and a prey to millions of insects which are busily employed in destroying them. One branch of it still looks healthy! Will it recover? No, it cannot; Nature has already run her course, and that healthy-looking branch is only as a fallacious good symptom in him who is just about to die of a mortification when he feels no more pain, and fancies his distemper has left him; it is as the momentary gleam of a wintry sun's ray close to the western horizon. See! while we are speaking a gust of wind has brought the tree to the ground and made room for its successor.

Come farther on and examine that apparently luxuriant tauronira on thy right hand. It boasts a verdure not its own; they are false ornaments it wears. The bush-rope and bird-vines have clothed it from the root to its topmost branch. The succession of fruit which it hath borne, like good cheer in the houses of the great, has invited the birds to resort to it, and they have disseminated beautiful, though destructive, plants on its branches which, like the distempers vice brings into the human frame, rob it of all its health and vigour. They have shortened its days, and probably in another year they will finally kill it, long before Nature intended that it should die.

Ere thou leavest this interesting scene, look on the ground around thee, and see what everything here below must come to.

Behold that newly-fallen wallaba! The whirlwind has uprooted it in its prime, and it has brought down to the ground a dozen small ones in its fall. Its bark has already begun to drop off! And that heart of mora close by it is fast yielding, in spite of its firm, tough texture.

The tree which thou passedst but a little ago, and which perhaps has laid over yonder brook for years, can now hardly support itself, and in a few months more it will have fallen into the water.

Put thy foot on that large trunk thou seest to the left. It seems entire amid the surrounding fragments. Mere outward appearance, delusive phantom of what it once was! Tread on it and, like the fuss-ball, it will break into dust.

Sad and silent mementos to the giddy traveller as he wanders on! Prostrate remnants of vegetable nature, how incontestably ye prove what we must all at last come to, and how plain your mouldering ruins show that the firmest texture avails us naught when Heaven wills that we should cease to be!

The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inhabit, shall dissolve, And, like the baseless fabric of a vision, Leave not a wreck behind.

Cast thine eye around thee and see the thousands of Nature's productions. Take a view of them from the opening seed on the surface sending a downward shoot, to the loftiest and the largest trees rising up and blooming in wild luxuriance: some side by side, others separate; some curved and knotty, others straight as lances; all, in beautiful gradation, fulfilling the mandates they had received from Heaven and, though condemned to die, still never failing to keep up their species till time shall be no more.

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Reader, canst thou not be induced to dedicate a few months to the good of the public, and examine with thy scientific eye the productions which the vast and well-stored colony of Demerara presents to thee?

What an immense range of forest is there from the rock Saba to the great fall! and what an uninterrupted extent before thee from it to the banks of the Essequibo! No doubt there is many a balsam and many a medicinal root yet to be discovered, and many a resin, gum and oil yet unnoticed. Thy work would be a pleasing one, and thou mightest make several useful observations in it.

Would it be thought impertinent in thee to hazard a conjecture that, with the resources the Government of Demerara has, stones might be conveyed from the rock Saba to Stabroek to stem the equinoctial tides which are for ever sweeping away the expensive wooden piles round the mounds of the fort? Or would the timber-merchant point at thee in passing by and call thee a descendant of La Mancha's knight, because thou maintainest that the stones which form the rapids might be removed with little expense, and thus open the navigation to the wood-cutter from Stabroek to the great fall? Or wouldst thou be deemed enthusiastic or biassed because thou givest it as thy opinion that the climate in these high-lands is exceedingly wholesome, and the lands themselves capable of nourishing and maintaining any number of settlers? In thy dissertation on the Indians thou mightest hint that possibly they could be induced to help the new settlers a little; and that, finding their labours well requited, it would be the means of their keeping up a constant communication with us which probably might be the means of laying the first stone towards their Christianity. They are a poor harmless, inoffensive set of people, and their wandering and ill-provided way of living seems more to ask for pity from us than to fill our heads with thoughts that they would be hostile to us.

What a noble field, kind reader, for thy experimental philosophy and speculations, for thy learning, for thy perseverance, for thy kindheartedness, for everything that is great and good within thee!

The accidental traveller who has journeyed on from Stabroek to the rock Saba, and from thence to the banks of the Essequibo, in pursuit of other things, as he told thee at the beginning, with but an indifferent interpreter to talk to, no friend to converse with, and totally unfit for that which he wishes thee to do, can merely mark the outlines of the path he has trodden, or tell thee the sounds he has heard, or faintly describe what he has seen in the environs of his resting-places; but if this be enough to induce thee to undertake the journey, and give the world a description of it, he will be amply satisfied.

It will be two days and a half from the time of entering the path on the western bank of the Demerara till all be ready and the canoe fairly afloat on the Essequibo. The new rigging it, and putting every little thing to rights and in its proper place, cannot well be done in less than a day.

After being night and day in the forest, impervious to the sun's and moon's rays, the sudden transition to light has a fine heart-cheering effect. Welcome as a lost friend, the solar beam makes the frame rejoice, and with it a thousand enlivening thoughts rush at once on the soul and disperse, as a vapour, every sad and sorrowful idea which the deep gloom had helped to collect there. In coming out of the woods you see the western bank of the Essequibo before you, low and flat. Here the river is two-thirds as broad as the Demerara at Stabroek.

To the northward there is a hill higher than any in the Demerara; and in the south-south-west quarter a mountain. It is far away, and appears like a bluish cloud in the horizon. There is not the least opening on either side. Hills, valleys and low-lands are all linked together by a chain of forest. Ascend the highest mountain, climb the loftiest tree, as far as the eye can extend, whichever way it directs itself, all is luxuriant and unbroken forest.

In about nine or ten hours from this you get to an Indian habitation of three huts, on the point of an island. It is said that a Dutch post once stood here. But there is not the smallest vestige of it remaining and, except that the trees appear younger than those on the other islands, which shows that the place has been cleared some time or other, there is no mark left by which you can conjecture that ever this was a post.

The many islands which you meet with in the way enliven and change the scene, by the avenues which they make, which look like the mouths of other rivers, and break that long-extended sameness which is seen in the Demerara.

Proceeding onwards you get to the falls and rapids. In the rainy season they are very tedious to pass, and often stop your course. In the dry season, by stepping from rock to rock, the Indians soon manage to get a canoe over them. But when the river is swollen, as it was in May 1812, it is then a difficult task, and often a dangerous one, too. At that time many of the islands were over-flowed, the rocks covered and the lower branches of the trees in the water. Sometimes the Indians were obliged to take everything out of the canoe, cut a passage through the branches which hung over into the river, and then drag up the canoe by main force.

At one place the falls form an oblique line quite across the river impassable to the ascending canoe, and you are forced to have it dragged four or five hundred yards by land.

It will take you five days, from the Indian habitation on the point of the island, to where these falls and rapids terminate.

There are no huts in the way. You must bring your own cassava bread along with you, hunt in the forest for your meat and make the night's shelter for yourself.

Here is a noble range of hills, all covered with the finest trees rising majestically one above the other, on the western bank, and presenting as rich a scene as ever the eye would wish to look on. Nothing in vegetable nature can be conceived more charming, grand and luxuriant.

How the heart rejoices in viewing this beautiful landscape when the sky is serene, the air cool and the sun just sunk behind the mountain's top!

The hayawa-tree perfumes the woods around: pairs of scarlet aras are continually crossing the river. The maam sends forth its plaintive note, the wren chants its evening song. The caprimulgus wheels in busy flight around the canoe, while "Whip-poor-will" sits on the broken stump near the water's edge, complaining as the shades of night set in.

A little before you pass the last of these rapids two immense rocks appear, nearly on the summit of one of the many hills which form this far-extending range where it begins to fall off gradually to the south.

They look like two ancient stately towers of some Gothic potentate rearing their heads above the surrounding trees. What with their situation and their shape together, they strike the beholder with an idea of antiquated grandeur which he will never forget. He may travel far and near and see nothing like them. On looking at them through a glass the summit of the southern one appeared crowned with bushes. The one to the north was quite bare. The Indians have it from their ancestors that they are the abode of an evil genius, and they pass in the river below with a reverential awe.

In about seven hours from these stupendous sons of the hill you leave the Essequibo and enter the River Apoura-poura (a.k.a. Burro-Burro - see map.), which falls into it from the south. The Apoura-poura is nearly one-third the size of the Demerara at Stabroek. For two days you see nothing but level ground richly clothed in timber. You leave the Siparouni to the right hand, and on the third day come to a little hill. The Indians have cleared about an acre of ground on it and erected a temporary shed. If it be not intended for provision-ground alone, perhaps the next white man who travels through these remote wilds will find an Indian settlement here.

Click image to enlarge.

Not in Demerara but in another part of South America, an example of the type of blowpipe used to fire poison arrows
(Click image for bigger picture.)

Click image to enlarge.
Macoushia Indian
(Click image to enlarge)

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Two days after leaving this you get to a rising ground on the western bank where stands a single hut, and about half a mile in the forest there are a few more: some of them square and some round, with spiral roofs.

Here the fish called pacou is very plentiful: it is perhaps the fattest and most delicious fish in Guiana. It does not take the hook, but the Indians decoy it to the surface of the water by means of the seeds of the crab-wood tree and then shoot it with an arrow.

Macoushia and Wourali (curare)
You are now within the borders of Macoushia, inhabited by a different tribe of people called Macoushi Indians, uncommonly dexterous in the use of the blow-pipe and famous for their skill in preparing the deadly vegetable- poison commonly called wourali.

It is from this country that those beautiful paroquets named kessi-kessi are procured. Here the crystal mountains are found; and here the three different species of the ara are seen in great abundance. Here too grows the tree from which the gum-elastic is got: it is large and as tall as any in the forest. The wood has much the appearance of sycamore. The gum is contained in the bark: when that is cut through it oozes out very freely; it is quite white and looks as rich as cream; it hardens almost immediately as it issues from the tree, so that it is very easy to collect a ball by forming the juice into a globular shape as fast as it comes out. It becomes nearly black by being exposed to the air, and is real india-rubber without undergoing any other process.

The elegant crested bird called cock-of-the-rock, admirably described by Buffon, is a native of the woody mountains of Macoushia. In the daytime it retires amongst the darkest rocks, and only comes out to feed a little before sunrise and at sunset: he is of a gloomy disposition and, like the houtou, never associates with the other birds of the forest.

The Indians in the just-mentioned settlement seemed to depend more on the wourali poison for killing their game than upon anything else. They had only one gun, and it appeared rusty and neglected, but their poisoned weapons were in fine order. Their blow-pipes hung from the roof of the hut, carefully suspended by a silk-grass cord, and on taking a nearer view of them no dust seemed to have collected there, nor had the spider spun the smallest web on them, which showed that they were in constant use. The quivers were close by them, with the jaw-bone of the fish pirai tied by a string to their brim and a small wicker-basket of wild cotton, which hung down to the centre; they were nearly full of poisoned arrows. It was with difficulty these Indians could be persuaded to part with any of the wourali poison, though a good price was offered for it: they gave to understand that it was powder and shot to them, and very difficult to be procured.

On the second day after leaving this settlement, in passing along, the Indians show you a place where once a white man lived. His retiring so far from those of his own colour and acquaintance seemed to carry something extraordinary along with it, and raised a desire to know what could have induced him to do so. It seems he had been unsuccessful, and that his creditors had treated him with as little mercy as the strong generally show to the weak. Seeing his endeavours daily frustrated and his best intentions of no avail, and fearing that when they had taken all he had they would probably take his liberty too, he thought the world would not be hardhearted enough to condemn him for retiring from the evils which pressed so heavily on him, and which he had done all that an honest man could do to ward off. He left his creditors to talk of him as they thought fit, and, bidding adieu for ever to the place in which he had once seen better times, he penetrated thus far into these remote and gloomy wilds and ended his days here.

According to the new map of South America, Lake Parima, or the White Sea, ought to be within three or four days' walk from this place. On asking the Indians whether there was such a place or not, and describing that the water was fresh and good to drink, an old Indian, who appeared to be about sixty, said that there was such a place, and that he had been there. This information would have been satisfactory in some degree had not the Indians carried the point a little too far. It is very large, said another Indian, and ships come to it. Now these unfortunate ships were the very things which were not wanted: had he kept them out, it might have done, but his introducing them was sadly against the lake. Thus you must either suppose that the old savage and his companion had a confused idea of the thing, and that probably the Lake Parima they talked of was the Amazons, not far from the city of Para, or that it was their intention to deceive you. You ought to be cautious in giving credit to their stories, otherwise you will be apt to be led astray.

Many a ridiculous thing concerning the interior of Guiana has been propagated and received as true merely because six or seven Indians, questioned separately, have agreed in their narrative.

Ask those who live high up in the Demerara, and they will, every one of them, tell you that there is a nation of Indians with long tails; that they are very malicious, cruel and ill-natured; and that the Portuguese have been obliged to stop them off in a certain river to prevent their depredations. They have also dreadful stories concerning a horrible beast called the water-mamma which, when it happens to take a spite against a canoe, rises out of the river and in the most unrelenting manner possible carries both canoe and Indians down to the bottom with it, and there destroys them. Ludicrous extravagances! pleasing to those fond of the marvellous, and excellent matter for a distempered brain.

The misinformed and timid court of policy in Demerara was made the dupe of a savage who came down the Essequibo and gave himself out as king of a mighty tribe. This naked wild man of the woods seemed to hold the said court in tolerable contempt, and demanded immense supplies, all which he got; and moreover, some time after, an invitation to come down the ensuing year for more, which he took care not to forget.

This noisy chieftain boasted so much of his dynasty and domain that the Government was induced to send up an expedition into his territories to see if he had spoken the truth, and nothing but the truth. It appeared, however, that his palace was nothing but a hut, the monarch a needy savage, the heir-apparent nothing to inherit but his father's club and bow and arrows, and his officers of state wild and uncultivated as the forests through which they strayed.

There was nothing in the hut of this savage, saving the presents he had received from Government, but what was barely sufficient to support existence; nothing that indicated a power to collect a hostile force; nothing that showed the least progress towards civilisation. All was rude and barbarous in the extreme, expressive of the utmost poverty and a scanty population.

You may travel six or seven days without seeing a hut, and when you reach a settlement it seldom contains more than ten.

The farther you advance into the interior, the more you are convinced that it is thinly inhabited.

The day after passing the place where the white man lived you see a creek on the left-hand, and shortly after the path to the open country. Here you drag the canoe up into the forest, and leave it there. Your baggage must now be carried by the Indians. The creek you passed in the river intersects the path to the next settlement; a large mora has fallen across it and makes an excellent bridge. After walking an hour and a half you come to the edge of the forest, and a savanna unfolds itself to the view.

c The finest park that England boasts falls far short of this delightful scene. (5)
There are about two thousand acres of grass, with here and there a clump of trees and a few bushes and single trees scattered up and down by the hand of Nature. The ground is neither hilly nor level, but diversified with moderate rises and falls, so gently running into one another that the eye cannot distinguish where they begin nor where they end; while the distant black rocks have the appearance of a herd at rest. Nearly in the middle there is an eminence which falls off gradually on every side, and on this the Indians have erected their huts.

[The above view was near Annai - see note 5.]

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To the northward of them the forest forms a circle, as though it had been done by art; to the eastward it hangs in festoons; and to the south and west it rushes in abruptly, disclosing a new scene behind it at every step as you advance along.

This beautiful park of Nature is quite surrounded by lofty hills, all arrayed in superbest garb of trees: some in the form of pyramids, others like sugar-loaves, towering one above the other, some rounded off, and others as though they had lost their apex. Here two hills rise up in spiral summits, and the wooded line of communication betwixt them sinks so gradually that it forms a crescent; and there the ridges of others resemble the waves of an agitated sea. Beyond these appear others, and others past them, and others still farther on, till they can scarcely be distinguished from the clouds.

There are no sand-flies nor bete-rouge nor mosquitos in this pretty spot. The fire-flies, during the night, vie in numbers and brightness with the stars in the firmament above; the air is pure, and the north-east breeze blows a refreshing gale throughout the day. Here the white-crested maroudi, which is never found in the Demerara, is pretty plentiful; and here grows the tree which produces the moran, sometimes called balsam-capivi.

Your route lies south from this place; and at the extremity of the savanna you enter the forest and journey along a winding path at the foot of a hill. There is no habitation within this day's walk. The traveller, as usual, must sleep in the forest; the path is not so good the following day. The hills over which it lies are rocky, steep and rugged; and the spaces betwixt them swampy and mostly knee-deep in water. After eight hours' walk you find two or three Indian huts, surrounded by the forest; and in little more than half an hour from these you come to ten or twelve others, where you pass the night. They are prettily situated at the entrance into a savanna. The eastern and western hills are still covered with wood; but on looking to the south-west quarter you perceive it begins to die away. In these forests you may find plenty of the trees which yield the sweet- smelling resin called accaiari, and which, when pounded and burnt on charcoal, gives a delightful fragrance.

From hence you proceed, in a south-west direction, through a long swampy savanna. Some of the hills which border on it have nothing but a thin coarse grass and huge stones on them: others quite wooded; others with their summits crowned and their base quite bare; and others again with their summits bare and their base in thickest wood.

Half of this day's march is in water nearly up to the knees. There are four creeks to pass: one of them has a fallen tree across it. You must make your own bridge across the other three. Probably, were the truth known, these apparently four creeks are only the meanders of one.

The jabiru, the largest bird in Guiana, feeds in the marshy savanna through which you have just passed. He is wary and shy, and will not allow you to get within gunshot of him.

You sleep this night in the forest, and reach an Indian settlement about three o'clock the next evening, after walking one-third of the way through wet and miry ground.

But bad as the walking is through it, it is easier than where you cross over the bare hills, where you have to tread on sharp stones, most of them lying edgewise.

The ground gone over these two last days seems condemned to perpetual solitude and silence. There was not one four-footed animal to be seen, nor even the marks of one. It would have been as silent as midnight, and all as still and unmoved as a monument, had not the jabiru in the marsh and a few vultures soaring over the mountain's top shown that it was not quite deserted by animated nature. There were no insects, except one kind of fly about one-fourth the size of the common house-fly. It bit cruelly, and was much more tormenting than the mosquito on the sea-coast.

This seems to be the native country of the arrowroot. Wherever you passed through a patch of wood in a low situation, there you found it growing luxuriantly.

The Indian place you are now at is not the proper place to have come to in order to reach the Portuguese frontiers. You have advanced too much to the westward. But there was no alternative. The ground betwixt you and another small settlement (which was the right place to have gone to) was overflowed; and thus, instead of proceeding southward, you were obliged to wind along the foot of the western hills, quite out of your way.

But the grand landscape this place affords makes you ample amends for the time you have spent in reaching it. It would require great descriptive powers to give a proper idea of the situation these people have chosen for their dwelling.

The hill they are on is steep and high, and full of immense rocks. The huts are not all in one place, but dispersed wherever they have found a place level enough for a lodgment. Before you ascend the hill you see at intervals an acre or two of wood, then an open space with a few huts on it; then wood again, and then an open space, and so on, till the intervening of the western hills, higher and steeper still, and crowded with trees of the loveliest shades, closes the enchanting scene.

At the base of this hill stretches an immense plain which appears to the eye, on this elevated spot, as level as a bowling-green. The mountains on the other side are piled one upon the other in romantic forms, and gradually retire, till they are undiscernible from the clouds in which they are involved. To the south-southwest this far-extending plain is lost in the horizon. The trees on it, which look like islands on the ocean, add greatly to the beauty of the landscape, while the rivulet's course is marked out by the aeta-trees which follow its meanders.

Not being able to pursue the direct course from hence to the next Indian habitation, on account of the floods of water which fall at this time of the year, you take a circuit westerly along the mountain's foot.

At last a large and deep creek stops your progress: it is wide and rapid, and its banks very steep. There is neither curial nor canoe nor purple- heart tree in the neighbourhood to make a wood-skin to carry you over, so that you are obliged to swim across; and by the time you have formed a kind of raft composed of boughs of trees and coarse grass to ferry over your baggage, the day will be too far spent to think of proceeding. You must be very cautious before you venture to swim across this creek, for the alligators are numerous and near twenty feet long. On the present occasion the Indians took uncommon precautions lest they should be devoured by this cruel and voracious reptile. They cut long sticks and examined closely the side of the creek for half a mile above and below the place where it was to be crossed; and as soon as the boldest had swum over he did the same on the other side, and then all followed.

After passing the night on the opposite bank, which is well wooded, it is a brisk walk of nine hours before you reach four Indian huts, on a rising ground, a few hundred paces from a little brook whose banks are covered over with coucourite- and aeta-trees.

This is the place you ought to have come to two days ago, had the water permitted you. In crossing the plain at the most advantageous place you are above ankle-deep in water for three hours; the remainder of the way is dry, the ground gently rising. As the lower parts of this spacious plain put on somewhat the appearance of a lake during the periodical rains, it is not improbable but that this is the place which hath given rise to the supposed existence of the famed Lake Parima, or El Dorado; but this is mere conjecture.

A few deer are feeding on the coarse, rough grass of this far-extending plain; they keep at a distance from you, and are continually on the look- out.

The spur-winged plover and a species of the curlew, black with a white bar across the wings, nearly as large again as the scarlet curlew on the sea- coast, frequently rise before you. Here too the muscovy duck is numerous, and large flocks of two other kinds wheel round you as you pass on, but keep out of gunshot. The milk-white egrets and jabirus are distinguished at a great distance, and in the aeta- and coucourite-trees you may observe flocks of scarlet and blue aras feeding on the seeds.

It is to these trees that the largest sort of toucan resorts. He is remarkable by a large black spot on the point of his fine yellow bill. He is very scarce in Demerara, and never seen except near the sea-coast.

The ants' nests have a singular appearance on this plain; they are in vast abundance on those parts of it free from water, and are formed of an exceeding hard yellow clay. They rise eight or ten feet from the ground, in a spiral form, impenetrable to the rain and strong enough to defy the severest tornado.

The wourali poison procured in these last-mentioned huts seemed very good, and proved afterwards to be very strong.

There are now no more Indian settlements betwixt you and the Portuguese frontiers. If you wish to visit their fort, it would be advisable to send an Indian with a letter from hence and wait his return. On the present occasion a very fortunate circumstance occurred. The Portuguese commander had sent some Indians and soldiers to build a canoe not far from this settlement; they had just finished it, and those who did not stay with it had stopped here on their return.

The soldier who commanded the rest said he durst not, upon any account, convey a stranger to the fort: but he added, as there were two canoes, one of them might be despatched with a letter, and then we could proceed slowly on in the other.

About three hours from this settlement there is a river called Pirarara, and here the soldiers had left their canoes while they were making the new one. From the Pirarara you get into the River Maou (or Ireng - see map.), and then into the Tacatou; and just where the Tacatou falls into the Rio Branco there stands the Portuguese frontier-fort called Fort St. Joachim. From the time of embarking in the River Pirarara it takes you four days before you reach this fort.

There was nothing very remarkable in passing down these rivers. It is an open country, producing a coarse grass and interspersed with clumps of trees. The banks have some wood on them, but it appears stinted and crooked, like that on the bleak hills in England.

The tapir frequently plunged into the river; he was by no means shy, and it was easy to get a shot at him on land. The kessi-kessi paroquets were in great abundance, and the fine scarlet aras innumerable in the coucourite- trees at a distance from the river's bank. In the Tacatou was seen the troupiale. It was charming to hear the sweet and plaintive notes of this pretty songster of the wilds. The Portuguese call it the nightingale of Guiana.

Towards the close of the fourth evening the canoe which had been sent on with a letter met us with the commander's answer. During its absence the nights had been cold and stormy, the rain had fallen in torrents, the days cloudy, and there was no sun to dry the wet hammocks. Exposed thus, day and night, to the chilling blast and pelting shower, strength of constitution at last failed and a severe fever came on. The commander's answer was very polite. He remarked, he regretted much to say that he had received orders to allow no stranger to enter the frontier, and this being the case he hoped I would not consider him as uncivil: "however," continued he, "I have ordered the soldier to land you at a certain distance from the fort, where we can consult together."

We had now arrived at the place, and the canoe which brought the letter returned to the fort to tell the commander I had fallen sick.

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The sun had not risen above an hour the morning after when the Portuguese officer came to the spot where we had landed the preceding evening. He was tall and spare, and appeared to be from fifty to fifty-five years old; and though thirty years of service under an equatorial sun had burnt and shrivelled up his face, still there was something in it so inexpressibly affable and kind that it set you immediately at your ease. He came close up to the hammock, and taking hold of my wrist to feel the pulse, "I am sorry, Sir," said he, "to see that the fever has taken such hold of you. You shall go directly with me," continued he, "to the fort; and though we have no doctor there, I trust," added he, "we shall soon bring you about again. The orders I have received forbidding the admission of strangers were never intended to be put in force against a sick English gentleman."

As the canoe was proceeding slowly down the river towards the fort, the commander asked with much more interest than a question in ordinary conversation is asked, where was I on the night of the first of May? On telling him that I was at an Indian settlement a little below the great fall in the Demerara, and that a strange and sudden noise had alarmed all the Indians, he said the same astonishing noise had roused every man in Fort St. Joachim, and that they remained under arms till morning. He observed that he had been quite at a loss to form any idea what could have caused the noise; but now learning that the same noise had been heard at the same time far away from the Rio Branco, it struck him there must have been an earthquake somewhere or other.

Good nourishment and rest, and the unwearied attention and kindness of the Portuguese commander, stopped the progress of the fever and enabled me to walk about in six days.

Fort St. Joachim was built about five and forty years ago under the apprehension, it is said, that the Spaniards were coming from the Rio Negro to settle there. It has been much neglected; the floods of water have carried away the gate and destroyed the wall on each side of it, but the present commander is putting it into thorough repair. When finished it will mount six nine- and six twelve-pounders.

In a straight line with the fort, and within a few yards of the river, stand the commander's house, the barracks, the chapel, the father- confessor's house and two others, all at little intervals from each other; and these are the only buildings at Fort St. Joachim. The neighbouring extensive plains afford good pasturage for a fine breed of cattle, and the Portuguese make enough of butter and cheese for their own consumption.

On asking the old officer if there were such a place as Lake Parima, or El Dorado, he replied he looked upon it as imaginary altogether. "I have been above forty years," added he, "in Portuguese Guiana, but have never yet met with anybody who has seen the lake."

So much for Lake Parima, or El Dorado, or the White Sea. Its existence at best seems doubtful: some affirm that there is such a place and others deny it.

Grammatici certant, et adhuc sub judice lis est.

~~~~~~

NOTES

•• 1. Rev. J.G. Wood, Explanatory Index in Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States, and the Antilles, in the years 1812, 1816, 1820, & 1824.
With Original Instructions for the perfect preservation of Birds, Etc. for Cabinets of Natural History.
Charles Waterton, Esq.,
Introduction by the Rev. J. G. Wood, Macmillan and Co., 1880, London.

•• 2. Map contained in Wanderings in South America, Charles Waterton, with article by Sydney Smith. Hutchinson & Co., Paternoster Row, London, 1906.

•• 3. The journey from Georgetown to Loo creek, on the Demerara River, that took Waterton a few days to complete, is now easily finished in little more than a hour by means of a modern highway. Robert J. Lee, Charles Waterton's First Journey Through Guyana page 32. From the Wakefield Museum exhibition catalogue 1982, see Charles Waterton Links page.

•• 4. The abandoned sugar works of Amelia's Waard (Ward)on the Demerara were cleared away long ago and now the estate is just part of the mining town of Linden. ibid. p. 32. See also note 5.

Article in connection with the above.

Stabroek News
Amelia’s Ward (extract)
By Cathy Richards, 30 October 2011

Sixty-five miles south from the capital city lies one of the larger housing schemes in Guyana: Amelia’s Ward, Linden. The Linden-Soesdyke Highway runs through this community dividing it into two main sections: South and Central Amelia’s Wards with a population of 10,000 residents. Amelia’s Ward has moved from being a forested area with a few squatters living in shacks, and no roads, electricity or potable water, to an extensive community.
Website Amelia Ward article. [link accessed 15 Jan 2017]

•• 5. 'The finest park that England boasts ....'.
When I first read Waterton's description of the north Rupununi, I was very sceptical. ......... However, as I emerged from the "bush" about ten miles north of Annai, I was stopped in my tracks by the tremendous vista that unfolded. ...... No, this was not Shropshire, nor even Harewood Gardens, but indeed it was magnificent. Robert J. Lee, Charles Waterton's First Journey Through Guyana, page 33. From the Wakefield Museum exhibition catalogue 1982, see also notes 3 and 4, .

More about Annai (see entry 'The finest park that England boasts ....' in text)
Annai is a small village in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo Region of Guyana. Annai stands at an altitude of 95 metres (314 feet), at the edge of the Rupununi savannah, where the cattle trail to the Atlantic coast begins. It is nestled in the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains, and is close to the Rupununi River. Annai, considered to be the gateway to the Rupununi, is approximately 15 miles north of Karanambo and is 416 km (258 mi) by road from the nation's capital, Georgetown.

Much of the population of the area are members of the Macushi people. Annai is one of the northern-most Macushi Amerindian villages in the North Rupununi Savannahs.

The area of land in which Surama is located has been inhabited sporadically for many years. An established cattle-trail ran through the area in the early twentieth century, and Surama was an important stopping-point on that trail. As the cattle-trail dwindled, however, so did the number of inhabitants in the area, and by the 1970s Surama was completely deserted. The modern village of Surama was founded in the 1970s by two brothers, Fred and Theo Allicock.[
Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region 9)

Wikipedia Annai article. [link accessed 03 Apr 2017]


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The Wanderings - The First Journey, 1812. Chapter 1
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