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Exploring Guyana over land (part 1 - see also next page)


Our little marina is almost ready. Time for a winter break: to Guyana. Not sailing but by car, with Winnie (JW’s niece) and Peter.

“What?!” our Suri friends responded aghast. “Guyana is full of robbers!” But Surinamese are masters in stretching things or perhaps they are jealous? As nature in Guyana is much more varied than in Suriname. A good reason to check for ourselves what may be true of those negative allegations.

So we traded floating fishing nets for cows, donkeys and goats walking about freely. Traffic in Guyana is erratic and on the “highway” - shared with horse and donkey carts and stray cattle - accidents may happen anytime. The Guyanese style of driving: tailgating and overtaking in bends or just drifting about dead-slow. And should a cow decide to cross the road at the same time… Plus litter everywhere, in contrast to tidy Suriname. We noticed it immediately upon entering Guyana, and even more with a feeling of relief upon our return into Suriname.

We crossed the Corantyne in Nickerie by ferry. Endless waiting and red tape, but we have become used to that.
By the end of the day we arrived in Georgetown at our rented home. A perfect spot and the hosts (the whole family was mobilized) extraordinary helpful and hospitable.

Going into Georgetown's city centre we took a taxi. Sensible, as traffic in the capital is even more bustling than in the outskirts. Even in town horses and cows walk freely about, never minding traffic lights. Guyanese drivers communicate by hooting the horn, causing terrible turmoil.
Highlights were Stabroek market , St.George’s Cathedral and the Zoo and we didn't meet any other tourists. But in fact Georgetown was disappointing in comparison to Paramaribo’s historical inner city (UNESCO world heritage) and her lively waterfront. It misses flair. The historical wooden buildings are run down and we saw many beggars.
The ambience in Guyana is comparible to the Caribbean islands; Suriname is totally different. As a result of the varied mix of more ethnical groups?

Guyana is mainly populated by East Indians and creoles, and gold mining added some Brazilians. But although in Suriname the quiet Javanese never step in the foreground, we missed them in Guyana - which underlines the importance of their contribution to the Surinamese society. The same applies to the Chinese, who in Su professionally reign the supermarkets while Guyana (still) revolves around corner stores where goods and seller sit behind barred windows. Food is mostly sold in the streets: Georgetown is a chain of markets, hustle & bustle and the locals are friendly and helpful. Criminality? We haven't seen it. Yet the papers are crammed with articles on murder and manslaughter, mainly gang related and the media just love to expose the most gruesome details. For instance, we read a two page story about the “crankshaft murder”, committed 21 years ago.

Of course we drove into the interior as well. We visited Pandama Retreat, a basic camp slash winery between Georgetown and Linden, to explore for our intended roadtrip in August into the deep interior of Guyana. We enjoyed a leasurely swim in the creek and lazed and slept in our hammocks.

Continued on the next page

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