Sunday, February 17, 2013

Back to Grand Riviere - the Peter O'Connor commentary

I needed somewhere to escape from Carnival. Unable to tolerate the noise, crowds and being literally confined in the Cascade Valley for several days, I have been fleeing Carnival for the past few years. 

Now, this is no disrespect to Carnival, folks—it remains a sparkling wonder of steelband music, jourvert, and thousands of lovely winin’ women literally challenging an old man like me. But the time comes to retire, and I did so a few years ago, in order not to play beyond my time, as is suggested of aging athletes!

So, I look for the opposite, and as far as possible, seek places of nature and natural beauty and quiet. These have included in the past, camping on the beaches of Paria, Tacarib and Madamas along the North Coast, the village of Brasso Seco and its surrounding forests, and even the beautiful Asa Wright Nature Centre. At the “camping” locations you need to be able to look after yourself, but if you chose Asa Wright next year, you will be looked after--beautifully!

Sadly—for a selfish person like me, the carnival exodus has been growing over the past few years, and more and more people are going camping, mostly along our beaches and rivers. 

So, even remote beaches like Madamas tend to be full of people over carnival and other long weekends. And these are not just people who want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness. Many of these arrive by boat, with portable generators, lighting systems and huge amplifiers. 

They invade the wilderness, and blast their amplified noise across remote beaches and through astonished forests, and leave piles of litter and human filth on our beaches and river banks. 

So, with the beaches being invaded by noisy crowds, I sought the comfort and relative quiet of a house named “Immortelle” in Grande Riviere, although I am aware of hordes of campers along the river bank of “Big River”, but Grande Riviere has put some controls in place for campers, including designated sites and toilet and shower facilities. 

I also knew that Grande Riviere hosts a jourvert celebration and a Tuesday afternoon Carnival, along the main road and down Hosang Street to the sea. But by either being on the beach, or in the house near the sea, I could largely avoid these happenings, if not the still audible DJ, especially leading into jourvert! But most of the time the DJ played good back in times kaiso music, so the music was not an intrusion. 

Without a radio, TV or newspapers (newspapers do not get to Grande Riviere?) I had no idea about carnival, crime, the rest of the world or anything. These happenings were better left unreported in a setting where a river meets the sea.

But it was the beach and the river that I really wanted to see. The river had meandered last year and washed away part of the beach, and when finally “corrected” by using an excavator to re-open the original river mouth, people complained that hatchling turtles and eggs were being destroyed. 

Unfortunate levels of blame were hurled at the government, EMA, and the owner of the hotel most affected by the river’s meander. As I wrote in this column on January 13th “Inability to complete anything”, after straightening the river, everybody abandoned the beach and left a huge festering pond of stagnant water right in front of the hotel. This remained unattended for several months, ensuring that when the 2013 nesting season arrived, this part of the beach could not be “nested upon”. 

My opinion upset the Minister in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, who wrote that I did not know of what I wrote, and should therefore not comment—and in any case the government “had a plan” and was waiting to see the plan work. Well, I, worried that the nesting season might arrive before the “plan”, merely wrote calling for some action. 

And, notwithstanding government’s righteous indignation at my “farseness”, writing about what I allegedly did not know, Mother Earth Herself obviously read the column, and on the very next day sent in the waves which restored the beach! I just present the facts here, I make no comment on the timing of the arrival of these waves, or the way in which they re-built the beach. You are free to speculate and appreciate my intercession—such as it may have been—in this work!

But the beach and the river are now beautifully in harmony once again, and Grande Riviere is ready for the turtles and for the people who will come to gaze in wonder at them. Please avail yourself of this opportunity from March through June, and learn to appreciate and respect one of the natural wonders of our land.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai