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Creativity and hospitality in Matura

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Reia Fortuné of Nature Seekers shows the process of making beads from discarded glass bottles. The beads are used as part of trendy jewellery made by the group. PICTURES: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

When I went to Matura on Tuesday, I had a fair idea of what the day was supposed to look like because of the itinerary I was given. However, at the end of the day what really stood out to me was something that was not planned and therefore not part of that itinerary.

By 3.30 pm, we were midway through the day’s tour and I already had enough information to write an entire piece for this Staycation series.

While I sat on a bench at Salybia Beach preparing to kayak through the river I got the chance to interview Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe.

With World Tourism Day scheduled for the following day and the national budget upcoming, I had questions for Cudjoe but music blasting from a nearby car threatened to affect the recording of that interview.

Guardian photographer Shirley Bahadur asked the driver of the vehicle if he could turn down the volume for a few minutes so we could conduct the interview. He complied without any fuss.

The interview with Cudjoe lasted 13 minutes, according to my recorder. When it was completed I walked over to thank the driver. He said it was no problem, we chatted for a bit about the area and then he offered me a cup of fish broth he had just finished making.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of fish broth but decided I would take him up on the offer just because of his hospitality. From the time I opened the pot I knew this was something special.

David Ramlochan’s birthday was Monday, so he and his friend Anthony Boodoo decided to visit Salybia to relax and celebrate. As part of their celebrations they decided to use some carite, macaroni and provision to make the fish broth that in the end was sampled by almost the entire tour.

Everyone agreed how great it tasted and we were again reminded that while this country is indeed a beautiful place the friendliness of the people is our greatest treasure.

The day began around 10 am at the Nature Seekers’ office on the Toco Main Road in Matura. There we saw the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” come to life. Reia Fortuné and Emma Hiscock showed us the processes used to turn discarded glass bottles into ornaments and beads.

Beneath Nature Seeker’s office, Fortuné wrapped a bottle in gazette paper placed it in a plastic bag and smashed it with a hammer.

Fortuné then put on welding glasses and used the flames from a burner to melt the broken remains of the bottle and fashion them into beads using a mandrel. These beads are used to create trendy jewellery.

On a wall at the side of Fortuné’s work area was a size chart which detailed the sizes of the beads.

Apart from being melted into beads the discarded bottles can also placed in a kiln and flattened via a process called slumping. The flattened bottles are turned into wall plaques or tokens that can be used by companies for awards. Hiscock said this programme started about five years ago.

After seeing the process we were also able to try our hand at making bracelets and were given strings and beads of varying colours and sizes to do so. Not to brag but my bracelet was the best. I’m sticking to that. I’m not sure the others would agree with that assessment though.

Following our jewellery making, the tour headed to Mermaid Pool. The local myth is that mermaids were seen by hunters in these pools. We did not see any mermaids. The hike to the pools was relatively easy and the trip was definitely worth it. Although I did not have a change of clothes I ventured into the water and I’m very glad that I did.

Apart from tour guides Francis Superville, Nevon Williams and Kadeshar Caesar from Nature Seekers to help us get to and from the forested area, we were also accompanied by a friendly female dog who lives in a house near to trackr.

After the tour there was no agreement on what we should call the dog, with the names “greysome and grey hound” being bandied about.

• Next week we give you part two of the tour to Matura.


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