Having experienced Mombasa prepared me for the temperature and humidity of Georgetown and to top it off, we were welcomed by tropical rain. Arriving at an English speaking country where people drive on the left immediately puts you at your ease. But the roads, although mainly engines also have a significant number of horse and carts. The Dutch were responsible for establishing the dikes of Georgetown about 200 years ago and they run the side of every road. The rains had been heavy over the last month so the water levels were higher than usual. Beautiful waterlilies fill most of the dikes which are cleared at least twice a year.
The drive from the international airport to Guyana university was a casual introduction to the back streets of Georgetown since Elford was avoiding the congestion of the main streets. But the benefit was that I got a curry breakfast and a sense of the place. The houses were mainly wooden on slits or built using piles. The university has 7K students with ~30% being biology students. The playing fields are flooded and have alligators in the out field!!! After briefing the local earthworm expert, Prof Adbullah Alasi (Prof to everyone we meet), we drove 5 mins to Ole, the internal airport where we will be flying the next day to confirm the tickets. That being good – wellbeing placated by the relaxed attitude that reassured me my tickets would be on the gate when I turned up in the morning, you have to relax and go with it. Then we went to the mall for a curry lunch – yes it like a mall any where else in the world but without a Macdonalds – yes I have found a country without a Macdonalds yesssss.
Guyana University playing fields
After lunch, Elford took me to the EPA to collect the permit. Diana, the officer in charge of issuing the permit, had been sick and had come to work especially to help finalise the paper work. But things are never straight forward. I could not pay for the permit with my plastic and didn’t have enough dollars to cover the cost. Also the banks had closed – they close 14.30 in Guyana. So Elford rushed home and picked me up the cash – but the drama didn’t stop there because with the correct payment in hand, we were handed over to the finance office which promptly rejected many of the $20 notes – anything torn could not be used. Then there was a mad rush to the mall where the cash point machines rejected my plastic then back to Elford’s house to raid his savings but we managed to pay for the permit at 15.50 with just 10 mins until the EPA closed – and with me owing the equivalent of $300 to someone I had only just meet – this guy is just awesome.
‘Prof’ office view
The hotel – the Ranama Princess was beautiful with a pool, food and wifi. This I thought was the last luxury for some time – so I spent the evening washing my clothes in a shower with three glass sides – the mind boggles.