Disappointment in Georgetown

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December 25th 2012
Published: December 25th 2012
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Nieuw Nickerie to Georgetown


Welcome sign
Day 434 Tuesday 18th December

Up at 6.00am and finished packing, had a quick breakfast and were doing a final check when at 7.15am there was a knock at the door. We were told the taxi was here so we grabbed everything and went downstairs and paid the bill. It turned out the taxi was a collectivo minivan, (as suspected) we jumped in and were off to the port arriving about 8.15am for the start of the fun. The port is called “South Drain”, which doesn’t sound nice when you say you exited a country via the South Drain…sounds a bit like a rat out of a sewer. As we hopped out our driver asked if we firstly wanted to change money and secondly if we need a ride on the other side. Changed some money which was not the best rate but it is always safer to have some of local currency on you, next was the ride and in the middle of negotiations another driver walked over, we think our driver was stepping on toes. We spoke to the new driver and arranged the connection with him as his van was going on the

Is it really the tallest?
ferry so we would not have to carry our bags, as he tried to put them in the van customs said no, we would have to go through the process of having them checked first – damn. We then had to stand in line for about 45 minutes to buy the ferry ticket and hand our passports in, then we stood at the side of the office with a crowd of people where a man was yelling out names and handing the passports back, great security. Then there was another queue to join for customs to check our bags with everyone trying to push in front, Scott had already told off someone in the other line who pushed in and smugly looked at us well that look did not last long and he was walking to the back of the line. We finally decided we would not get anywhere unless we pushed too and when we finally got to the customs official he glance inside the top of our packs and said camping gear to which I said yes and he ushered us through. During the time in this line we checked and even though they had taken our passport

Looking at the main altar
we were not stamped out of Suriname so there must be another line somewhere. Our Driver came over to us and grabbed our main packs while we joined the next line which was around the corner to get our exit stamp. We are now ready to get on the ferry but we then had to wait while the trucks, vans and cars boarded, I wonder if at any time they say it is full sorry no more well this did not happen today.

Finally about 9.45am we were moving thank goodness for the 30 minute trip across the river to Guyana and a new experience but before we could get off the ferry the captain had to run up to the officials and hand in paperwork. Next you guessed it another queue to get stamped in which also was slow, entry cards were handed out on board so we had already filled these out. If you are unsure how long you will be in Guyana make you say more than you need we said 3 weeks which was much more than we needed and the official wrote 3 weeks on our entry stamp. Customs looked at us and just
Suriname borderSuriname borderSuriname border

The scrum on the ferry dock
waved us through with our main packs still in the van, which at one stage while lined up we saw drive by which is always a bit of a worry. We wandered through the building and out the back where a whole pile of vans including ours were parked, the bags were put on the roof with a tarp over them and we were loaded on. As we drove down the road we got our first glimpses of Guyana – cows, skinny dogs all with skin complaints, cats, goats and people wandering all over the road remind you of anywhere? I (Shelley) was seating in the front between the driver and another passenger with the gear stick being shoved into my leg when the van was put into second gear oh what fun. The other downside was I could see all the squished animals on the road about one every 3 metres not nice. Scott was sitting in the back seat so we could not discuss anything but we both saw a huge bonfire in a cemetery which was obviously a Hindu cremation. It really felt like we were back in India, we sort of had to keep reminding ourselves
Suriname borderSuriname borderSuriname border

The run along the wharf to the ferry
we were in South America. Just like in Suriname, when slavery was abolished and none of the slaves wanted to work for former masters and went off to work their own farms, the colonial powers bought in indentured labour. Because Guyana was “owned” by the British the majority of the indentured labour came from India. Apparently there is a lot of ethnic tension in Guyana between the majority Ethnic Indians (who control the Government) and the ethnic black Africans. The indigenous Ameridian Indians now form only a tiny minority. We didn’t see any signs of such tension but have read of the seriousness of it and the attempts of the Government to eradicate it. Despite feeling like we were back in India the only amusing think about the three hour trip was the suburb names we passed there were a lot of English names like Enmore, Bath, Manchester, Annandale but then we got things like Lovely Lady and Letter T or even Number 78. On the way it started to rain and we hoped the tarp was over our bags properly.

Two other people in the van were going to the Sleepin Hotel and we had emailed the sister
Drive to GeorgetownDrive to GeorgetownDrive to Georgetown

Shelley in the front seat
hotel yesterday but got no reply so we thought we would check at this one if they could ring and check if we had a reservation. The answer was no and they were full and this hotel only had one room left and it was a “better” one so the cost was USD$81 I asked to check it out. Scott said may face said it all as I walked back out so he when for a quick run around to see if there was anything near. Scott couldn’t find anything near and it was soon pouring rain so we really had no choice. We booked for one night hoping to sort something else out later. Let me describe the room- it is tidy with two double beds, the bathroom is also tidy but it smells of mothballs and there are no external windows. There are two windows that open onto the breakfast room with a table and chairs under each so if the curtains move I can wave to everyone from our bed, also breakfast starts at 6.30am and staff start working out there at 5.30am. Another problem is reception is down the hall and the staff have the television

Misty morning
blaring in reception and the breakfast room all the time, lucky we can sleep through most things. Another problem that presented itself later in the evening is the water backs up in the bathroom sink and it gets a ring of grit and dirt and the occasional pubic hair.

We decided to head straight out and try and book some tours walking past open drains breeding mosquitos and rats which is just lovely but we are trying to be positive and hope the walk will reveal something good. We eventually found one of the tour agencies for Iwokrama Jungle Lodge which we had seen on the internet and the tours sound great. We asked questions and enquired about the transport which is a separate cost getting there and back and we were given 3 options. First option was a public minivan which takes 8 to 15 hours overnight depending on the road which is often washed out and costs $US125 return. We have read blogs and spoken to people here and they said it is impossible to sleep and it is crowded and you may have to get out and push the van out of the mud. So after

Open drains in the street
travelling all night and arriving between 3.30am to 10.30am to start the tour after lunch, you wouldn’t be full of life.

Option 2 is a jeep for 4 people which because there is only the 2 of us we would have to pay the whole lot $500 + $50 per day that you are on the tour – sounds fair. The last one is to fly which sounds great as it is only $265 each for a return flight, but the airport is not near the lodge so it is a further $125 for a transfer, per person each way!!! This means the transfer from the airport cost more than the flights, what the??? We are feeling pretty down as it sounded like a good tour, but then we checked on people’s blogs etc and it sounds like the tours are adhoc and seem to change at their wimp so maybe it’s just not to be. None of the blogs we read seemed too positive on what you would see and one stated that they saw a lot of birds and “a” monkey, which makes it an expensive option to see a monkey.

We walked back to the

Old building
hotel and about 1 block away was a Gold shop (maybe pawn shop) with 6 heavily armed men outside and a sign with a skull and cross bones saying electricity 600 volts. All 6 guys were sporting assault rifles that looked like they were built to bring down elephants; I am no expert on guns but these things were serious weaponry. Wished we could take a photo but these guys look scary maybe we will try tomorrow. For dinner we finally found a place that served Brazilian food so Scott was impressed but it turned out to be OK or maybe it is that we were both starving by this time.

Day 435 Wednesday 19th December

Um breakfast well we were not disappointed we were expecting it to be bad there are only four tables and about 28 rooms and people are allowed to smoke oh the joy. Breakfast was basic and quick as people were waiting for tables. It had been raining heavy overnight and there are big puddles everywhere, Georgetown is built 7 feet below sea level and is ringed by large dykes to keep the water out, so the ground

The Astor Theatre
seems to be soggy all the time, well while we have been here. This is something of course that is a legacy of the Dutch who are very good at reclaiming land, although I am unsure exactly why they bothered here. After being here a couple of days I personally think they should just punch some holes in the dyke and let the whole town be reclaimed by the sea.

Today we are off to more travel agencies this time to see if we can get lucky and do a flight to Kaieteur Waterfall but no luck as tomorrow is booked out and Friday the day we plan to leave town only has two people booked and they need at least seven. We asked the likelihood of more people booking as with us it would be 4 and he said only 50 percent so not good and it would mean another night here. We knew this was a slim chance as it could take days and even if you book in advance people can cancel meaning your trip is cancelled because of lack of numbers. Oh well not everything is meant to be, we were offered a trek to

Inside the Astor Theatre with the original wooden benches
the waterfall that takes 4 to 5 days but not what we are looking for at this stage. May have been interested in the hike but details were scant, and it would mean “maybe” returning on Christmas day, although they couldn’t confirm if it would be 4 or 5 days….very adhoc to say the least.

We checked out the timber church which the Guyanese claim is the highest wooden structure but it must be said most people here have not travelled outside Guyana. It is surprisingly pretty and worth a quick look as there is nothing else in town to look at other than the piles of rubbish and very rundown buildings that probably where beautiful in their day but it is now hard to tell. We found a small shopping mall and had late lunch. There appears to be a large contingent of homeless in town, which added to the overall bad feeling of the place, we never felt threatened but we were warned twice by locals to watch our pockets and not to use our camera. We looked around town a bit more and decided to get out probably getting a flight to Caracas in Venezuela so

Looking up one of the streets
walked back to the room. Started researching and discovered the flight has two stops Port of Spain in Trinidad and Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles which are both very long waits over 8 hours. We then thought why not stay in Port of Spain for Christmas so began researching and checking for accommodation but there was nothing much available and very expensive – damn. Well what about Curacao which we know nothing about other than there is a liqueur with this name, so we started to google and it sounds really nice and there is reasonable accommodation with kichenettes. At 5.00pm we booked the flight and then the accommodation for tomorrow catching the plane at 9.05am, I run out to reception as we had forgotten that we had put laundry in no problem it was on the line but still wet so I could get it in the morning.

Ask the lady at reception where we could get a good meal maybe Indian and she recommended a place across the road in the opposite direction we normally walk. The place is odd it is really a bakery with a room at the side with tables and chairs we found

St Georges Cathedral
out that you order the food at the back of the bakery which turns out to be all precooked and then microwaved and very ordinary and not a smile to be seen, it sums up Georgetown. We are very glad to be moving on to somewhere nice for Christmas but disappointed that the tours did not work out for us.

Additional photos below
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Inside the Cathedral

Interior of Cathedral

2nd January 2013

The Catherdral looks impressive! xx

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