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A Trip to Kaikumbay Village in the Central Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana

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First Published: 21st of July, 2015 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: July 17, 2022 at 14:46 pm
Kaicumbay Primary School

On the 21st of July, 2015, I went for a drive from Lethem to a Central Rupununi village called Kaicumbay. Kaicumbay is reached by first driving about 100 km north of Lethem (towards Georgetown) and then making a 45-minute detour east – towards the Kanuku Mountain Range.

I was really excited the night before to make this trip hoping to learn something new. Well, I did learn something new – in fact, quite a few; but there wasn’t really much to see, and it reminded me of this poem I had read when I was a kid:

A sailor went to sea
To see what he could see
But all that he could see
Was sea and sea and sea.

The village was a small one in terms of population – only 279 people. At the time when we arrived, school was out for the summer holidays and I was told that, due to the holidays, most of the people took their kids far away to the farms.

I inquired what they planted on the farms and I was told they planted cassava. With the cassava, they would make cassava bread to consume locally, and also “farine” which is consumed locally and exported to other areas as well. Farine, by the way, is a kind of grain made from cassava and sprinkled on food by the people in some regions in and around Brazil. I had observed this tradition of eating farine from the people in Lethem and Manaus as well.

From Behind the Driver’s Seat – A Snapshot of the Trail Leading Into Kaicumbay Village.

I must admit that the driver, my friend Andre, really flew on the trail. I trusted that he knew this road by heart because one slip and we’d be sliding off the trail into the bushes and God help us then. Thankfully, with a sure foot and steady hands, and not forgetting the tender mercies of God, our driver landed us safely at our destination in Kaicumbay Village.

A small fenced area with some gardening activities going on in Kaicumbay Village – Pretty organic I would bet!

The houses in the villages were mostly small thatched-roof mud huts. It made me feel as though I was taking a journey back through time. In fact, this was probably how my ancestors lived several centuries back. And this thought made me pursue the theory that life is eternally the same: what happened 300 years ago, continue to happen today, in a different part of the earth. The various stages of evolution are always unfolding. And this law probably extends throughout the entire universe. Perhaps in an alien planet, another set of Wright brothers are pioneering powered flight. Who knows? But that’s another theory all by itself; and one which I will delve more deeply into later on. For now, enough of that wackiness.

Mud Huts With Thatched Roofs In Kaicumbay Village

My friends, Andre and Clement, and the other GWI employee, disembarked from the vehicle to pursue their technical duties in fixing the water system for the village. They got to work on the solar powered pump that supplied water to the four overhead tanks on the towering concrete trestle.

Working on the solar powered water system in Kaicumbay Village
Hard at work on the solar powered water system in Kaicumbay Village
Fixing the solar powered water system in Kaicumbay Village

Save Water?

As I mentioned earlier, the vehicle we came with to Kaicumbay Village first had to come to a halt, and then we disembarked. The GWI workers: Clement, Andre, and Dwayne, went about their work on the water system, while I went for a stroll further in the village. I should have shown this picture earlier but there is something curious written on the vehicle that I would like to highlight.

The GWI Vehicle We Came To Kaicumbay Village With – A Sturdy Ride I Might Add

Do you notice anything funny written on the door of the vehicle? In case the writing is too small, I’ll enlighten you. On the door of the GWI vehicle pictured above is written: “Water is Life. Save it”. What is wrong with that statement? Two things: first water is not life. Although water is essential for life, many elements needed to come together to form life. Secondly it is not possible to “save water”. Water may be conserved when there is a scarcity of purified or potable water; but water follows a “cycle” which makes it impossible to save or waste. It’s like the law of conservation of mass and energy: it can neither be created nor destroyed but change from one form to the other. This is one example, however, of the funny things I have noticed being peddled around by some reputable Guyanese companies. But I’ll deal more with these philosophical ideas later. Coming back to the topic…

The towering overhead trestle with water tanks used to store water for Kaicumbay Village
The towering trestle with water tanks to store water for Kaicumbay Village
A Photo Taken From On Top The Towering Trestle
A Photo Taken From On Top of the Towering Trestle

The Health Center

I walked around to the Health Center in Kaicumbay Village and spoke to the Medical Personnel in charge. He told me that he underwent medical training and he is responsible for administering medicine to the people of the village. His two little children were there with him. I gave the kids a copy of my children’s book “Angela’s Lost Turtle”, and I took some pictures as you can see below.

The Health Center in Kaicumbay Village

I Made Friends With Some Pigs!

That’s right! I had never been so close up and personal with piggies before! At least, not to my memory. While walking around Kaicumbay village, I noticed fowls being reared by some of the villagers. There were also a large number of cows and horses. As I pulled my camera out and pointed it at the cows, they would dart away violently, as though scared.

But it was right after lunch time that I had the personal encounter with the pigs. I realized that I was getting hungry. And at the same time I realized that I hadn’t brought any lunch! My friend Andre had picked me up that morning in such a hurry, I had no time to even think about lunch. And this clever guy didn’t think it important to give me a friendly reminder the night before. Luckily, I did walk with a few wafer bars and a bottle of water; but this was not enough. I wanted something more. Andre offered me some of his lunch but I had a better idea. Why not play nature boy just for today? I walked over to the mango tree under the house and picked some half ripe mangoes. This was certainly healthy food. As I threw the mango skin on the ground at my feet, the pigs ran to eat it. They didn’t steal away at my approach. They came so close and stayed so calm, I felt like these pigs were now my best friends. Unfortunately, I couldn’t operate my camera at the same time I was eating mangoes. Nevertheless, I did get some shots of the pigs after I finished eating. What cuties!

A Little Piggy Under the Mango Tree in Kaicumbay Village
A Little Girl And A Little Piggy Scramble For A Mango In Kaicumbay Village – The Little Girl Wins!
The Little Piggy

Picking Limes

While the GWI workers were busy working on the water system, I was busy walking about the village. I saw some lime trees and I asked the owner of the yard if I could pick some limes. He smiled, “sure go ahead, you can fill your bag!”

This was indeed a kind gesture. And I include a picture here of this kind man, who was a farmer and also a village counselor. I did just that: I filled my bag. And I must add that when I got back to Lethem, I sold the limes for a healthy profit. This gave me a sense of accomplishment: not only was I an explorer, but a businessman as well.

As I contemplated how I could help the people of Kaicumbay Village to lead more productive and profitable lives, it occurred to me that  I should return to assist them in setting up citrus farms in that area. The soil seemed very suitable for such a crop and there was a ready market. Building better roads and houses were also part of my ideas.

The Village Counselor (2015)

Kaicumbay is listed as a tourist attraction in Guyana for more advanced audiences under “Travel Back in Time”. If you would like to visit Kaicumbay or any other tourist attraction in Guyana, please contact any tour operator in Guyana.

Read More: Places Across Guyana

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