When you live 4,500 straight miles away, you clutch at anything that gives you a sense of home – the music, the food, and yes, the gyaff with a good GT posse.
And all of it was available this Saturday at the Johmard Community Centre in Colliers Wood, London.
For this time of the year, there was no black cake or fruit cake, so that was disappointing. And then the cassareep went in no time! But there was ginger beer and sorrel, so one has to be thankful for small mercies. Oh, how could we forget the rum – good, genuine El Dorado.
What was in good supply also was pepper sauce and it was one of the hits of the day.
“If I don’t get this pepper on my food, it don’t taste the same,” said Donna Nurse, who picked up several bottles, including the “Original Wiri Wiri” made, of course, from the wiri wiri pepper known for its heat.
“This is my taste of home,” Nurse, originally from Lodge in Georgetown, added.
The event was aptly called “Bourda Bazaar” by Rod Westmaas and his wife Juanita Cox who run a group called Guyana Speaks. They hold a monthly event to talk about any and everything Guyanese – from arts and culture to a series of issues like oil and gas and its consequences for the economy.
Bourda Bazaar was first held in 2017 as a way to raise funds to buy an outboard engineer for a boat to transport children to the school in Warapoka, one of the river villages in the Pomeroon.
Westmaas, who greeted and collected the modest entrance fee on Saturday, said the funds raised go to different causes every year.
Ingrid Dover-Vidal, originally from Princes Street in Georgetown, said the event was “as close to home as I would get” this time of the year.
“I like to support events like these because even if it gets me a little, tiny taste of Guyana, I am satisfied,” she added.
Westmaas and his wife tried to ensure they gave the event bits of the Guyanese market scene as possible. There were drummers, loud teasing among stallholders and patrons, and some took to the mic for Guyanese folk songs.
For those who were born in Guyana but migrated to the United Kingdom as children, or were born in the United Kingdom and brought up by Guyanese parents, the event was a small way of connecting them to the flavours and sounds of their heritage.