An intense week working was spent learning, listening, reading, and uploading, uploading and more uploading. Rightly or wrongly, I needed to get out of Georgetown’s vibrant, multicultural, noisy, wonderfully Caribbean metropolis, and see some of Guyana’s savannahs. Those sweeping landscapes, vast lakes, and that postcard-perfect greenery that had been glimpsed with awe since my arrival.
The thought of jumping out of bed at 5am to travel half the morning, backpack firmly in place, to take in some magnificent manifestation of nature, had kept me going when exhaustion threatened to overtake me. Georgetown was sweaty and lively and thought-provoking and exhilarating, but I had to see some of rural Guyana before departing. Caribbean living has created a weekly need for wide open spaces, and I was desperate to experience Guyana’s.
But it turned out they were days away by bus or boat, or out of my price range if I wanted to fly. A more affordable option for this self-prescribed one-day adventure was wine-tasting just outside the capital. It was one of those weeks that you finish depleted, but with a sense of satisfaction, and after which you particularly appreciate an alcoholic drink. I really wanted to have more memories of my time in Guyana than the journey between my accommodation, amazing food, and the insides of the buildings I was working in.
So we went to Pandama. For wine. From the Caribbean.
I wasn’t the only one. Two equally hard-working and exhausted girlfriends and I voyaged by bus along Guyana’s highways and bays/riverbanks for a solid hour before transferring to a taxi for the last 20 mins of the journey; off the beaten track and into serenity.
We got out and pretty much flopped onto the first free table. Our first glimpse of Pandama was an open space of bamboo, tables and books, filled with the smell of freshly cooked food aka heaven. As we unwound, and gossiped and took in the quiet, I could but smile.
We’re all about consuming local, plus trying new things keeps me excited about life, so tasting wine made from local fruits was quite some way up my street. And this is Pandama winery’s speciality. Passion fruit, sorrel, golden apple…all become wines in Pandama. Refreshing chilled wines. Not juice-ish, not sweet like non-alcholic wines, just wine. Tasting is believing and Pandama’s wines are a tongue’s delight.
About halfway through our tasting, we were informed that we’d have to take a break cos live music was starting. 2 out of 3 of us were saddened by the interruption to the moment that was literally being savoured. Determined to drink, it was with latent annoyance that we reconvened to another part of the property – by the river – where performances by some of Guyana’s eclectic musicians were taking place. Despite our initial grumbling, we conceded that actually, they were good. Really good. Plus purchasing a bottle of passion fruit wine meant we really didn’t have to stop drinking.
The Pandama experience was taken up a notch. Some folks swam, some listened from the water, some dropped their legs into the water, others lounged while the artists took turns to delight their audience. A mixture of male and female musicians rapped, sang, and played a live acoustic session on the water. A couple of guitarists, a drummer, a flautist and some percussionists mixed with some beautiful voices, thoughtful sometimes witty songwriting and lovely harmonies to create a transcendental riverside musical experience.
I may be biased; I love live music, and I love water. But it was also just a peaceful moment of pleasure.
Treated to local chart toppers and internationally renowned artists playing Caribbean folk music, hip hop, spoken word, punk rock/reggae fusion and sweet R&B, I swayed and danced and was replenished. I didn’t take pictures: I was in the zone.
When the moment was over, the wine tasting resumed. Chillaxed and chatting with the lovely owners, we discovered there are bungalows elsewhere on the grounds, as Pandama is actually a retreat as well as a winery (a retreat…with wine!). Pandama Winery and Retreat, Guyana. You heard it here.