The Guianas Part II
Jerry’s in Georgetown is another of those places where it’s difficult to leave the convenient easiness of being there for the frequent-grind of getting even the basic-necessities met on the road. Wifi upstairs with which to skype home (necessity), bar and good cheap eats downstairs, friendly cafe for writing-in down the road. And then leaving gets that much harder.
Graham turns up. Without his motorbike. Ahh, what’s the story? The story is after we crossed paths in the Guyanese interior he broke down, about 10hrs into the jungle from Georgetown, and had to hitch a ride back to civilisation on an open-air flatbed truck. Misery. The bike’s still out there in the jungle someplace. He couldn’t fix a fuel injection problem. So it’s about as bad as it can get really when your whole trip - your whole journeying livelihood - is reliant on the bike starting when you turn the key. Still, there is another overlander on-hand for him to talk through his options with, so it's providential timing nonetheless.
So with an ex-English colony to hang-out in and two white-guys in town who are unable or unwilling to leave we resolve to go to the weekend cricket final at the International Stadium. It’s in a suburb called Providence. It's a pretty relaxing event to while-away a Saturday at really, chatting run-rates with the locals, sipping locally produced rum which is cheaper than their bottled water and being interviewed as the-celebrities-we-are by the cricket commentators and some local journalists who come find us in the crowd with wireless mics and stream it all live to air on National Radio. Uhm, ok, sure. I like rum and ride a motorbike. On Sunday there’s the Jamaica versus Guyana football match back at the Stadium and as we walk through the stands its clear we’re pretty much national identities round these parts by now.
I manage to squeeze in a few domestic errands while in town such as procuring the necessary Visa paperwork plus motorcycle insurance for my next-stop Suriname, or 'Dutch Guiana'. Shopping around for bike-parts seems unlawfully easy here when you can actually converse with people and I find a new chain AND sprockets AND an excellent mechanic to change it all out for me. Stoked! Meanwhile Graham stresses over getting a truck to haul his bike out of the jungle and wrings-hands over potentially having to ship parts out from the UK for a fix. This is all bike-maintenance-producing-anxiety that overlanders know only too-well. We visit my mechanic contact ‘Smelly’ who it turns out is on the Guyana Superbike Team – so he's handy with fuel injection problems then – and I’m confident that Graham is in professionally capable hands.
And now it's really time to go. It's another tough departure but I feel good about having spent the time I needed to really feel the place. Guyana is an incredibly friendly country laced with the kind of third-world poverty that makes it deadly to westerners in some pockets. But social-consciousness is also very close to the surface here, clearly evidenced in every Government sponsored road-sign advertising safe-sex or education or public health. That all takes money and they don’t have any. Oh they could rape their interior jungle which is unfathomably rich in minerals from Gold to Bauxite – they could exploit and destroy it just like their greedy South American neighbours are ALL doing – but they’ve said No. Actually. You know what. We’re going to be custodians of this miracle rainforest for our kids. And we’ll just get by living in poverty in order to do that. Wow Guyana, I did NOT expect to come all the way through the steaming Guyanese rainforest in order to have you guys make me believe in good Governance & Nationhood - unlike ANY other country I’ve ever been to. Quite seriously. Hats. Off.
The Guyanese social consciousness shows up in great ways and in small - cjG.