Yesterday I received this message from Amar, the Indian Jesuit who is in charge in Aishalton (and is therefore likely to feature widely, broadly, squarely or otherwise in this journal in future):
“When you are in lethem pls do some of your personal need like cooking vessels, gas stove, buckets mug, jug etc and one big matras since the bed big, is ready.”
So today we went shopping for everything needed to furnish a house that has only doors, walls, one table and a bed big.
First we went to the poison shop to buy Triton, an insecticide which should be effective for three months. The shopkeeper measured our 50ml carefully into a second-hand hipflask-sized vodka bottle, labeled it “POISON” in red, and then explained that it should kill cockroaches, centipedes, wood ants and scorpions as well as mosquitos. Since we have already met all of the above fauna in our spring-summer-autumn-winter-and-spring cleaning in the new house, we found this reassuring. Across the road we bought two Brazilian hammocks from an afro-Guyanese lady whom I love because she calls me ‘babes’. They are soft and wide and look very comfortable. All chairs in Aishalton are solid wood, dead flat and a bit hard on the butt, so our seating will be hammocks.
Next we went to R&R, the hardware store. As befits Lethem the wild west town, this store features machetes, fishing net and a wide range of crowbars as well as batteries and inverters, nuts and bolts and tools. Here we bought screws and fishing net, as B had the brilliant idea of using it for storage in a house innocent of wardrobes and drawers. Third stop was the Savannah Inn, home of quality items. This was the big spend. A hallucinogenic red double bed mattress, two pillows, mosquito netting and two sets of 1950’s soap opera bedding (just sheets and pillowcases of course- remind me what a ‘quilt’ is?!). A mirror, much to the hilarity of the Jesuits: “What’s that for? Do you NEED it? Can’t James tell you if you look OK? Tee hee!” 8 hilariously feeble coat hangers for £3 which seems a bit steep frankly. A huge round tub for B to be Washerman while I’m at school, ‘Destruction’ washing powder (that’s not its name ONLY because they don’t have a Trades Description Act here) and clothes pegs. Everything for the modern kitchen i.e. a two-ring gas hob, one pan with lid, one baby frying pan, a flask, two mugs, a tub of solid soap for dishwashing, 3 scrubby sponges, two buckets with lids to serve as bins, 2 large and 3 small cockroach-proof storage boxes, a mop, a brush and, most important of all, two buckets for the well.
With this embarrassment of riches we will travel to Aishalton on Friday. The entire house furnishing (minus the bed big) cost 65,840 Guyanese dollars; about £220. It would have been much cheaper in Georgetown but transportation is prohibitively expensive, so it probably comes out quits. Before, I was looking forward to arriving; now it’s an excited yearning to create a home after more than three months of living out of rucksacks. It’s gripped! It’s sorted! Let’s offroad!
PS There’s a prize for anyone who spots cinematic references in this entry...!