Oh Guyana

27 Nov

This is the name of a classic song from Guyana written by a guy named Ramjohn Holder and it aptly expresses my feelings about being the that land for the past few days.  Folks, Guyana is not a place i like to visit nor would i like to live there. That country needs an official "Do Over" or Extreme Makeover: Country Edition.  It is in a right mess. It looks like an underdeveloped Sange Grande. (for the Trinis reading this).

Let me start by saying that I officially knew I was heading to Guyana when the woman in front of me at "check-in" asked if I could check one of her bags in with mine. I didn’t answer her. I just smiled. I think she got the message. Later on, said lady is walking in the departure lounge with a large market bag, a small suitcase and a toy truck. When security checks her, she has two big bottles of Tampico juice in the market bag. Liquids are a "no no" in carry on luggage ever since the averted UK aiport attack. They tell her she needs to check this in. She says something at the top of her lungs. They realise that she is going Guyana and they let her pass. Sigh much not post 911 security measures.

Strangely enough she wasn’t one of the people chosen in the line at Check-in to be randomly searched. I was..Steups……I stood there in awe and all i kept saying…."But I going Guyana, why are you searching me?". This was to happen to me again on leaving Guyana where they opt to search me instead of my colleague who had more luggage than myself. I swear they were conspiring to rile me up so they could arrest me for disturbing the peace. I don’t understand. i dress well. i speak properly. So why are they singling me out? This doesn’t happen to me on US bound flights. On those, the others races are harassed……LOL

Anyway..back to Guyana…Now the people that I met there aren’t bad at all. As a matter of fact they were much more pleasant than most Bajans you will ever encounter but like every Caribbean island, these gems always seems to be overshadowed by the seedy elements that one comes into contact with when you least expect.

My introduction to Guyana was through its transportation system. A series of Taxi rides convinced me that any Guyanese national can do well on the NASCAR circuit. Professional Racing is for them. Trinis take note…you are boo when it comes to driving once placed alongside any Guyanese.

First of all there are no traffic lights. Yes, you read it. There are NO traffic lights. Reason???? Apparently the drug addicts of Guyana have pilfered all of them and sold them to scrap metal dealers. big business across there.  Have no fear, the Government has just agreed to purchase 50 new traffic lights  for US$2.1 million to deal with this. In the meantime, if you want to drive in the city, you have to be aggressive and use your horn every 30 seconds…otherwise you will be trapped at an intersection. (I am not kidding).

My ride from the airport to the hotel (Le Meridan Pegasus) was done in less than 30 minutes by the driver despite the airport being 27 miles from the Capital city. Trust me when I say God and I were on full intimate terms during the cab ride and at one point i started calling him "G" and he referred to me as "Stef". Call me delusional but the speed at which we were going at, and him darting in and out of traffic, I think I actually ascended to some extent. My requests to slow down as I was not in a hurry were ignored.

As I soon learnt, drivers in Guyana don’t speak to their passengers unless it is time for time to demand payment. And at that time, they grunt the price at you hoping that you’ve heard a higher price than what was actually said. One of them went so far as he refused to speak to my Chinese co-worker and instead direct his answers or questions to me with the term ‘Yeah Brethren". Anyone who knows me know that I will not refer to someone in that manner nor do I wish to be addressed that way (well unless it will prevent me form being robbed or getting a cut-ass). The guy also refused to accept money from my co-worker only opting to take it from me as I assumed he felt a bigger tip would be forthcoming………..(PS..I don’t tip). He drove off steupsing……

My other Guyana lesson is this. If you turn on a tap, let it run for while and try not to drink the water. i learnt this lesson at the Hotel. Oh yes, the posh hotel…Le Meridan Pegasus. I was about to have a bath and when i turned on the shower, some brown stuff started to pour out of the pipes…..It didn’t stop for another 15 to 20 seconds and then the water became clear. i wasn’t as lucky when it came to shaving in the sink as the hot water never got clear. On calling Reception, I was advised to let it run as this was common. Common? They Mad? Brown water in a hotel affiliated to Westin, Sheraton and Four Seasons Hotels?? No eh?  But then again…It’s Guyana…..

 Surprisingly, Wireless internet connections were readily available everywhere i went and most of them were free. I however chose to use the Hotel’s WiFi as this guaranteed me so security.  i can’t say the same for WiFi in Trinidad. Finding a network here is a nightmare. It is rumored that Guyanese can hack into anything or bypass "tamper Proof" equipment. This is the reason why alot of the nationals have free electricity and new water meters are recalled every three months. Somehow they always find a way to bypass the system and therefore end up not paying for essential services.

Despite these things, there are alot of rich Guyanese people that shop in Miami more than I do and love their country to death. And with good reason to…….We all should have national pride….shouldn’t we? Mine wavers and at this moment, it is  screaming to leave. Primarily because I think I am tired of this place and need a change of scenery.  Hope my new home is not “gulp” Guyana.

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Posted by on November 27, 2006 in Uncategorized


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