Thursday, 19 February 2009

Journey to the East

When I was flying out to Guyana in November, the journey took 45 hours instead of 20. So I made some Guyanese friends. One told me that, if I was to have seen Guyana, I must go to Berbice. Her Georgetown childhood was peppered with trips there, and she said it was friendlier than Georgetown, better weather, better food and generally a bit of a paradise.
Can't really disagree with any of that.
We went by taxi. B fell asleep, and I fell into a musing meditation. Half an hour from Georgetown, I found the phrase 'tropical paradise' popping in to my mind, so I hit 'pause' on the muse-muscle and looked round. A nice rich blue sky, road lined by coconut palms. Blissful, blissful cool created by the speed of the car, rushing through the front windows and battering my hat into submission. Individual wooden houses, mostly on stilts to avoid floods and mosquitos. Some with gardens, some with washing, all with hammocks strung where the ground floor would be. The absence of rooms means an absence of tasks, so the hammocks are usually occupied. Every so often, wide open space of paddy fields, populated by greedy looking cows and their companionable egrets.
The traffic was about half sane, half psycho. The psycho half is minibus drivers and livestock with a death wish. All the boy racers in Guyana work as minibus drivers, eternally accelerating hard, braking hard or hitting the horn hard. Cows, donkeys and goats are plentiful road users, and generally don't at all mind the traffic. The sane half is donkey carts, cyclists, motorbikers and car drivers.
The new Berbice bridge took 21 years to build. It's a floating bridge, very basic, probably took about 2 months to construct. The rest of the 21 years was spent, one must deduce, arguing. We crossed it in ten minutes. Up until Christmas 2008, you had to take a ferry across the Berbice river. From Georgetown to Port Mourant would take about 6 hours. Now it takes 2.
So we crossed and entered the region of Berbice. Still the lovely houses, the egrets, but now large areas of sugarcane too. We passed cattle trucks full of canecutters, 60 workers on hard wooden benches, heading home to drink away their tiny salary on expensive Demerara rum.
Musing resumed. I pottered around my memory of other rice paddies, other egrets, other palm trees. We passed the smartly repainted Vigilance Police Station, cruised through sunny, palm-covered Lancaster, and left tiny, wooden-housed Hong Kong behind. I wondered about what makes a day worthwhile, sitting there feeling so HAPPY because I was cool, nothing hurt and there was nothing worthier I should be doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment