Thursday, June 28, 2012

Georgetown, Guyana: days 2 & 3

The following day is stiflingly hot, so I am quite content to spend it running errands with my host, strolling around the neighborhood, and napping and reading in a hammock.


We return to the sea wall again to enjoy a cooling breeze. Blinking lights of fishing trawlers dot the horizon.


I'm reminded the next morning that this is the rainy season as the weather alternates every fifteen minutes between heavy downpours and sticky heat. We get a delicious lunch from some Rastas in a minivan: curried potato roti with hot sauce and lime juice in a baggy. Believe it or not, this is definitely one of the best meals I've had in a long time!


I spend the afternoon checking out a few museums (none of which allow photography, unfortunately), starting first with the Guyana National Museum. The ground floor features four foot tall replicas of important local buildings, model ships, various glass bottles, and a diorama of a gold and diamond mine. Upstairs is a variety of taxidermy animals native to Guyana. A caption suggests that spider monkeys make good household pets. The capybara looks like it might have been the inspiration for the Rodents of Unusual Size from "The Princess Bride." A dozen different reptiles, mammals, birds, and fish float around in spooky jars of formaldehyde.


Happy to leave the formaldehyde behind, I walk a few blocks to the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, which is focused on Guyana's Amerindians. There are plenty of fascinating artifacts, including stone tools, ceremonial objects, dugout canoes, weapons, and a large exhibit on the importance of cassava. I learned that, in most tribes, men weave baskets and women throw pottery. One of my favorite artifacts was a small basket labeled, "male cosmetic bag for comb, bone flute, etc." I'm curious what the "etc." includes! It's hard to complain about a free museum but I would like to suggest the museum to differentiate between the numerous indigenous tribes, instead of just using the vague blanket term, "Amerindian."


My last museum for the day was the Cheddi Jagan Research Center, dedicated to the first democratically elected president of Guyana. The building is a noticeable red house where Jagan and his family once lived and the museum is one modest room on the second floor. Chronicling his life through photos and lengthy captions, the exhibit portrays the man as nothing less than a saint. Not being familiar with Jagan, I'm unsure if this is a fair and accurate assessment of Jagan's life or if it's just easier and more pleasant to remember the hope and potential this man once represented.


I'll be sure to cheer for Guyana at the Olympics next month!


It's been a busy few days in Georgetown. I've eaten well, managed to avoid getting too soaked or a sunburn, marveled at the harmony despite the extreme ethnic and religious diversity, and seen a small slice of a new country.


1 comment:

  1. Congrats on completing South America!! What an accomplishment! You're the first person I know to have been to every independent country on an entire continent! I'll have to get your autograph next time I see you.