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Pictures of Parika -OR- My Dad Just Ate a Large Rodent

December 13, 2015

By Nicole
Domburg, Suriname

Have you ever been in a place where the only way to get to town is to cram five people in the back seat of a stranger's car? Well, that's what we did to get from our anchorage at the run-down "marina" of Roed en Rust to the town of Parika. Although Parika is one of the larger cities in Guyana, it has only 4,000 or so people living there. Situated on the Essequibo River, the blend of different cultures here creates a unusual city that was the first place we went in Guyana.

Since the owner recently died, Roeden Rust Marina has fallen into disrepair.

There is an 8 to 10 foot tide here, so
we had to climb up the tires to get
to the dock.

They are serious about not speeding at Roeden Rust.
Notice the speed bump is made from a slice of a tree trunk

We could have waited for an hour on the lonely road for a bus (pictured on the right) from Roeden Rust to Parika. Instead, there is an unofficial taxi service in which people driving by will take you wherever you need to go and collect a fee ($100 GUD each, which is 50 cents).

Here we are on the way back, where it was spacious with only four
of us in the back seat. On the way there all five of us crammed back there.
(That's Anna from Daydreamer front/center.)

In Parika, a dozen vegetable vendors have set up small stalls on a portion of the sidewalk. They sell everything from watermelons to three-foot-long green beans to jackfruit.

This vendor is measuring vegetables using a balance scale.
All this Bok Choy for just $1 US!!!!
This nice lady gave us instructions on how to cook the vegetable pictured on the scale above. It looked like a bumpy cucumber. She didn't tell us about the step that would get rid of the bitterness, so it was too bitter for all of us (even for Greg!)

We had a delicious lunch at a small restaurant. We ordered a dish with a meat called labba, but no one could tell us exactly what it was. All they said was that it was the size of a dog and didn't have hooves. Eventually we found out it was a large rodent, similar to capybara. The wild meat store sold things like watrash, hymara, and powis, which are all still a mystery.

If you're wondering what that old Star Trek character has been doing lately, he's opened a restaurant in Parika, Guyana

There are a large number of Indian people in Guyana. They have been here since the British colony days when they were brought in to replace slaves when slavery was abolished. We seemed to be in the Indian section of town, so wherever we went loud Indian music was playing. We saw a guy walking down the street carrying a wooden box full of chicks. We also saw a big truck drive by with a huge, multi-level cage on the back; unfortunately, we couldn’t see what was inside. The buildings were a jumbled up mix; a modern pharmacy next to someone's shack next to a junky store. Fascinating, strange, and charming, Parika is a place that will enchant you as soon as you arrive.

The box of chicks

It was hard to get used to the exchange rate with 200 Guyanese to one US dollar. 
Would you like to buy a cooler set for $12,000?

Unknown said...

The vegetable on the scale is known locally as corilla (pronounced kar-eye’-lah), it is also known internationally as bitter melon, bitter gourd, African gourd and many more names.
Corilla will always be bitter, but washing it with salt before cooking and squeezing it out really well will reduce the bitterness. I have become accustomed to the bitter flavour, and this is one of my favorite vegetables!
Corilla can help to reduce blood glucose levels, soothe an upset stomach, and relieve the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis. In the UK and the US you can find it regularly stocked in Asian supermarkets.

x said...

Interesting! Often I like bitter. I will try to find this locally. Now if I could just find some breadfruit - roasted in a fire so as to resemble a bowling ball - just for old times sake. Thanks for the comment!