|Bernard and Sharmilla's place|
From our anchorage at Baganara Resort a little further up the Essequibo River is the home of Bernard and Sharmilla. They are ex-cruisers who swallowed the hook – that is to say they stopped cruising and moved on land. They receive cruisers when any wander along. By wander along, I mean dinghy up near but not too near their dock on the river. Why? Their guard dogs are proper guard dogs so any visitors need to stay far enough off the dock until one of them comes down, retrieves the dogs and puts them on their leashes.
|Sharmilla and Bernard|
The first group of cruisers had already visit Bernard and Sharmilla prior to our arrival so we waited. When sv Giraff arrived, they were interested and rowed over. Finding them both home and getting invited ashore, Peter radioed us on the handheld VHF and we joined them.
Their place is beautiful. They have 40 acres total. Of that, probably 10% is maintained. The rest is rainforest with trails that Bernard keeps up with his cutlass for walking. Maintained isn’t the right word to describe what they have accomplished. The grounds are fabulously manicured so that it looks like a resort. The river side is layers and layers of colorful tropical flowering bushes. The back is edible things. Yummy edible things - Coconut trees, pineapples, passion fruit, golden apple, bananas, breadfruit, breadnut, pomel, papaya, starfruit, soursop, avocado, wax apple, cocoa, lemons, limes, tamarind, and of course mangoes. Whew! It was truly impressive. And I probably forgot a few.
|Okra or ochro ( in the Caribbean)|
The other focus was their orchids. They had many different types growing on various trees, delicate little blossoms. Some were local. Others came from far away. It seems they picked many up as they circumnavigated the globe. Bernard told a funny story of when they arrived in New Zealand and wanted to spend time traveling around the country. However, what to do with their orchids on the boat? So he took them ashore, climbed a tree and secured them high up in the tree. Then they took two months to travel around and see the country. New Zealand being in the tropical latitudes, when they returned, the orchids were not only alive and well but thriving. Now before you wig out…..Bernard is a biologist and knows the danger of foreign, invasive species. “But orchids are not aggressive and grow very slowly. There was NO danger of introducing anything bad.” However, this is not recommend by the writers and editors of this blog.
Apparently Bernard, originally from Germany, sailed into Guyana and met Sharmilla. They fell in love and he convinced her to sail around the world with him. I think that was in 2000 or so. They returned and secured the land 2008 and built in 2009. I said to Sharmilla “So are you first Guyanese woman to circumnavigate the globe?” She smiled, giggled and then shrugged her shoulders “Oh, I don’t know.”
|Peter swinging on vines in Bernard's rainforest|
The house is hexagon shaped surrounded by porch all the way around. The roof is of course set up for water collection. Solar panels give them the power they need. We noticed an SSB/ham radio tuner and antenna as well as a small dish of some sort. They have email somehow because she gave me their old boat card with their email on it. They sold their cruising sailboat in January of this year. They have a river pirogue. The big outboard motor fell in the river so they only have a small outboard to get them to and from Bartica. The property can only be accessed by water. There are no roads. This means a trip into Baritca or other when they need or want anything outside what they have.
As much as they love it here, they are selling. Bernard is 82 and just doesn’t have the energy to keep up the place as it is now. They plan to move into Georgetown.
They are an interesting couple and it was fun meeting them.
|Their view of the Essequibo River|
Another interesting character in Guyana is Joyce. She is an expat jazz singer from the USA. Part of our circus went to visit her one day. Tom was along, I missed it. He thoroughly enjoyed visiting with her.