As the plane flew over Guyana I really got a chance to appreciate the splendor of the rain forests and the vast expanse of land that is this country. It was a muggy day as we disembarked, and rain began to drizzle as the taxi sped and crawled intermittently into Georgetown. There’s always something inherently tantlising about discovering something and somewhere for the first time.
The mix of housing along the route, the haphazard way they seem to have sprung up around each other, the new and shiny, co-existing next to wooden and rusting corrugated structures; some looking like their occupants have long deserted them. Past the splendid banks and other finance buildings, the distillery, the Demerara River on the left tracking our every move. Past the many school signs, sponsored by Moneygram (get them early?). Being schooled by the taxi driver in the precautions necessary not to be ripped off, the steps we needed to take to stay safe, as Guyanese are not honest, will not miss a trick to take advantage of strangers. Finally arriving at the Sleepinn with aprehension mounting, only to find it was the wrong one.
The very considerate driver took us the two miles or so to the next one, where I was unable to find my purse. The purse I knew I had in the taxi only a few minutes previously. After several fruitless searches of my bag, and the taxi, I came to the conclusion that I must have somehow left it at the first hotel. A call from the receptionist quickly confirmed this, so back to the hotel to pick it up. All the time I was thinking that there was a lesson I needed to learn from this.
When we got to the hotel the receptionist pointed to a gentleman sitting on one of the chairs opposite the counter, and said he’d seen it on the chair where I’d left it, and handed it in. They encouraged me to check that all its contents were there. They were. Then I got the message. I had begun the trip full of aprehension and mistrust, here was an opportunity to see things differently, to recognise that Guyana is not full of thieves and charlatans and people just waiting to do you over. There are probably more people like this man here, but no one is writing about them or encouraging you to see the good in the nation. So, my attitude changed. I gave him a hearty handshake and five US dollars and gave two dollars to the receptionists amidst much gushings of gratitude. A small price for the misery and inconvenience a lost purse would have caused.
I finally managed to get in touch with my friend who brought me a copy of the Starbroek News with my article in, showed us around Starbroek Market, and gave us a guided tour of the area while helping us to find somewhere to eat. This was followed by a tour of the Allbouystown area, ending the evening in a lovely bar. We talked about so much, including my interview at Mix 96 fm yesterday, which was a great success.