Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A view from the streets of Georgetown

Cows everywhere, as soon as you leave the city centre. Filthy beautiful canals, full of bottles, wrappers, single shoes, rotting vegetation, polystyrene, lilies, egrets. An old black rastafari man who sleeps outside the Jesuit presbytery on cardboard. Sand on the road edges. Peeling paint on peeling planks on delapidated beautiful fragile wooden clapboard houses. Turrets, weathervanes, balconies, all precarious. Dogs crawling under cars and street stalls for shade. European Union officials in suits leaving their building round the corner, climbing into air-conditioned cars to go home to gated compounds. Mango trees dropping their fruit on to cars. Long narrow horse carts.
Minibus horns. The sound of violent acceleration. The sound of abrupt deceleration. Horns, horns, horns. Singing from churches. Children talking on their walk home from school (no school buses). Market stalls shouting wares relaxedly. The TVs blaring from the gambling shops. Gut-vibrating bass from the taxis and expensive cars. Lovely lilting Caribbean accents. Under it all, fans whirring. After it all, fans whirring.
Hot tarmac, hot sand, hot grass. Curry and roti. Exhaust fumes. Rotting. Sweat. Sugar fermenting at the rum distillery. Ripe fruit. Mosiguard and sun cream (I carry my own aura of both everywhere). Faint odours of sewerage. Cookup rice. Hot car seats. Old, much-worn synthetic shoes, with sweaty feet inside them.
Mangoes (made in heaven). Milk powder in weak tea. Exhaust fumes. Tingling lips from Mosiguard (inadvertent) and hot sauce (advertent!). Sticky mouth from dehydration. Cold beer after a boiling day.
Permanent stickiness. Mango skin, condensing straight from the fridge. Thighs on boiling plastic car seats. Running hands through hair I've cut off. Filthy feet in flipflops. Itchy bites. Cold shower on hot skin.
In other words, it's sensory overload here. Dermot told me today to take things easier, but it feels so strange. We're already going at about 40% of the speed we go in Britain! It will take quite a while to wind down.

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