Visit to the Guyana Heritage Museum and other Senior Class Notes

Reflections on a Visit to the Guyana Heritage Museum, Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara
by Eileen Robinson

On a cool Saturday morning – June 16, 2007, some BHSOSA Alumni boarded a maxi bus from the Alma Mater and wended our way to the Heritage Museum on the West Coast of Demerara. This trip, organized by the members of the BHSOSA Seniors Committee, took us about five miles out of Georgetown, over the Demerara Harbour Bridge, through some busy villages on a 7-mile drive to our destination, two minutes off the Public Road at Kastev, Meten-Meer-Zorg.

Disembarking, we found a beautiful private home turned into a museum and were warmly welcomed by our Guide, Gary Serrao, and some members of his staff.

Indeed, as we entered, we all had the first impression of a home away from home. There were rocking chairs and colourful cushioned lounge chairs. Dotted around the ground floor was a variety of quaint bottles and jars with artifacts strategically placed to give an ambience of town and country combined.

We heard a bit of the history of the museum. Mr Serrao is a Guyanese whose passion for collecting and purchasing items on Guyana began when he lived in England for about two decades. On his return home, a friend - who was impressed with his collectibles, encouraged him to open a museum, and the idea came into being in November 1999. Our tour began on the first floor where we viewed an interesting collection of coins dating back to Queen Victoria’s reign and some during the use of the 21 guilders. There were maps of areas in British Guiana/Guyana from 1653 and stamps used from 1862. We saw more bottles and jars, glass and opaque, of various colours, shapes and sizes.

Can you imagine a stock of over 700 volumes of books on Guyana authored by Guyanese such as Rodney and Mittleholzer? Also stored were books by Waterton and Schomburgh brothers who were visitors and lived in Guyana for some time.

Slowly, we ascended a flight of stairs to the second floor. Up there, we beheld a room full of Amerindian, African and Indian items. Utensils, pictures and books used by Amerindian tribes were displayed. The mortar and pestle, masks and quaint stools from the African era were in place while the original cutlass/machete, headwear (rumaal) and elaborate costume jewellery featured among items used by the Indians. There were the antique tailor’s iron and flat iron, a 300-year old water filter, milk cans and etchings depicting Portuguese and Chinese life. Many postcard prints of notable buildings were also showcased on this floor.

By this time, we were ready to sit to lunch. With a mouthful to chat about, we enjoyed refreshing fruit juice and a healthy, sumptuous meal and dessert. We were told after of a final flight of stairs to a viewing and relaxing gallery. The brave ones gradually went up and found some more inviting couches, armchairs and rockers. The cooling Atlantic breezes said it was siesta time, but not before we had seen the points of interest from this vantage point. Cruising down the Essequibo River were a few cargo tugs. What peaceful scenery on the water. In the distance, we glimpsed the island of Leguan and to another point were seen the luscious sugarcane fields of Uitvlugt Estate.

We had enough time to laze and “old talk,” and so we did. Fun and laughter about old school days, school teachers and even popular students came alive. In the pleasant atmosphere, time passed quickly and soon we were thinking of our return trip.

Back on the ground floor, the Gift Shop was opened for us to make purchases of souvenir items. There were varieties of postcards of historic and heritage buildings in our capital Georgetown and its environs, inkwells, some quaint bottles, small and large and copies of maps on sale.

In another hour, we were homeward bound, quite happy and so grateful for the opportunity we were given to enjoy such an exciting day in the country.

Heartfelt thanks to the Alumni who made these perfect arrangements possible.

[Editor's Note: Click here for the website of the GHM

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