For me, there was nothing quite like the feeling of a place so diverse; a land fused with Latin, Caribbean and African cultures, all mixed together to make one steamy, hot, thick pot of real-life gumbo. This place was weird, in all the right ways.
Guyana Number Three
This was my very first trip venturing into “lesser-visited” countries: places where you won’t find many tourists; countries most of my friends haven’t even heard of. And so far, I was having a blast! Guyana was my third and final “Guyana.” The Guyanas are a collection of three small (and very unusual) countries located at the top of South America. They are strange lands (and I don’t mean that in a bad way), because, while located in South America, they are not Spanish-speaking nations. In fact, all three of them have very interesting histories as well as present-day cultures.
During this trip I’d see Dutch Guyana (today, known as Suriname), French Guyana (French Guiana) and British Guyana (today known as simply “Guyana”). I was nearing the end my trip. I’d spent five nights in Dutch Guyana, made it over to French Guyana for lunch, and now was heading to “regular” Guyana to finish out the South American portion of this trip. I’d then head North, to stay in Trinidad for a couple nights before heading home.
Just Plane Fun
Getting to Guyana was half the fun. I nearly made the fatal mistake of going to the wrong airport, but thankfully realized I’d be departing from Paramaribo‘s second (and smaller) airport, Zorg en Hoop, just in time. This was the smallest airport that I’d ever flown out of (to date); and I arrived so early to this tiny airport–before any of the other passengers–that I was worried I was in the wrong place, or that the flight had been canceled…the place was deserted! I was soon invited into one of the buildings by a lone staff member; it looked like I was sitting in the control tower, though it was on the ground level…maybe security? I honestly had no idea what was happening, but soon the sun came up as I was later escorted to a lounge where a few other passengers were waiting. Eventually we’d all board our tiny plane. This was certainly different than any airport experience I’ve ever had.
I got a kick out of the name of the airline I was flying: Gum Air. No joke! But if the name of the airline made me laugh, the size of the plane made me cry. I figured on a smaller plane, but I didn’t expect this tiny tin can! Jokes aside, I actually had an awesome time sitting right behind the pilot in this Cessna Grand Caravan that sat just eight passengers. I’d never been on a commercial plane this small…what a thrill!
My trip to Georgetown, Guyana was back in 2013–and years before I started documenting my travels–so my memories are a little fuzzy. I do remember arranging a tour of Georgetown last minute: right there in the airport parking lot, on the spot with a taxi driver. Cleveland was my guy. He took me to lunch, to the zoo, to see some monuments, then dropped me off at my hotel. I really wish I would’ve taken more photos, videos and notes. My visit to Georgetown was at the point where I just getting into this travel thing.
Ramblin’ New Year’s Eve
Did I mention I arrived in Georgetown on New Year’s Eve? Again, details are blurry, but I’ll write down what I can remember. I checked in to a place called The Cara Lodge. For dinner, I made my way over to a Brasilian joint for a plate, before winding up at The Pegasus Hotel to ring in the New Year. I remember riding in the cab through Guyana after dark, just feeling the thrill of being somewhere so different and exotic while the driver was blasting that sweet reggae music. I had a couple of Guyanese beers at the hotel party and enjoyed some live music before counting down to 2014 and then heading in for the night. The New Year’s celebration was uneventful, but I remember feeling pretty cool I was in such a far away and different (and relatively unknown) place for New Year’s. The night would mark the beginning of a long tradition of ringing in the New Year in distant lands.
Symphony of Frogs
Georgetown was the first time I was exposed to these magic “beeping” or “whistling” frogs. I think they’re called coqui frogs and I looooooved them so much! I’d run into them in future travels, always in the Caribbean. Their Am high-pitched “beeps” are unmistakable, and so adorable!
Next Day Amnesia
I don’t remember much about the next day at all, except going for a drive and seeing City Hall and Stabroek Market. The famous market was pretty much closed down, maybe because it was New Year’s Day, I don’t remember. I literally have complete amnesia about my second day in Guyana. I need to go back.
I’ll be Back
I absolutely loved by trip to The Guyanas…all three of them. As I travel the world, fast and furiously, I’m taking notes on the places I want to return. The Guyanas are a definite “must return to” on my list. While I only stomped around the capitals of all three, next time, when I’m back for a longer visit, I will include some of the smaller villages and natural wonders that are found far away from the city: the jungles, waterfalls, etc. I also want to check out the little border towns with Brasil and Venezuela. They intrigue me.
For me, there was nothing quite like the feeling of a place so diverse; a land fused with Latin, Caribbean and African cultures, all mixed together to make one steamy, hot, thick pot of real-life gumbo. This place was weird, in all the right ways. I can’t wait to come back to meet more people, explore more streets, hop into more little planes and travel to the interiors…and of course hear those beautiful frogs at night!