Home

 

News

Overview

Diary

Statistics

In Deutsch

 

MAIL

Enjoy some pictures of the worldrecordtour, taken in Guyana - Part 3: Georgetown

see also the complicated journey involved to go there from Sint Maarten

Part 1: Rupununi

Part 2: Iwokrama

       
 
 
Guyana Map

 

 

 
 
Map of the Guyanas

 

click a picture to see details

 

 

 

 

 

Two contrasts: The City Hall with its
fascinating architecture and the plain
building of the “High Court” with
the monument of Queen Victoria
The 1763 Monument: This statue
commemorates the unsuccessful
slave rebellion in 1763, led by
Cuffy, an African slave
Wonderful colonial style architecture:
The Walter Roth Museum
 
Guyana"Land of many Waters"
 
 
"GEORGETOWN"

The Boeing 737 of BWIA West Indies Airways is landing harshly in Georgetown/Guyana. Humid, hot air is welcoming us after 1pm on December 27th, 2004, as we proceed with our hand luggage (we really managed for the first time to travel with handbags only, because we heard that lately 800 pieces of luggage are lost in the BWIA system), to the immigration and line up at the “non resident” counter. Three officers are attending and things move straight forward. We are received by a young lady and it does not take long until the question of our onward respectively return ticket pops up, which, of course, we do not have. This caused us headaches already in Sint Maarten, as in the beginning the airline did not want to let us board at all without. Unsatisfied, she disappears with our passports. On her return, she asks us to take a seat on a bench. “We will take care of you soon”, she explains and draws her attention to the next guest. Hopefully we won’t be sent back with the next leaving aircraft! The last passengers gone, the immigration boss, Mr. Knight, approaches us and makes us a sign to follow him to his office. But we are not the only ones who are walking behind him. Another Westerner and two men of Indian origin seem to have a problem too.

 

 

 

The Caribbean influence is undeniable in Guyana: Rastafarians are always an exotic sight
 
When getting questioned, we explain the situation to Mr. Knight. Now he insists that he wants to see proof that our car is really on its way to Guyana. Because our LandCruiser is still in the container in the port of Philipsburg on Sint Maarten, scheduled to leave only on December 28th, 2004 (it finally left only on January 6th, 2005), we cannot present the bill of lading yet, what obviously seems to be bad. We explain further that we are picked up by Frank, the Service Manager of the local Toyota distributor. “OK - then I will talk with him first” the officer replies. But we can be on the lookout as long as we want - nobody is waiting for us or showing up. This is even worse and already suspicious. More stressful is that we have lost also Frank’s cellular phone number. And at that number, which Emil has “partly” in his mind, nobody picks up the phone so that we are starting to doubt if it is really the right one. This does not improve the situation either. Additionally all our business cards from Guyana from our time two years ago are in our car. To increase the tension, we are not able to find neither Frank’s private number nor Anil Beharry’s, the boss of Toyota, in the local telephone book. Besides all - all businesses are closed today due to an additional Christmas holiday in Guyana. It is like bewitched! After a sleepless night and 48 hours waiting in airports (usually the flight from St. Maarten to Georgetown takes only two hours), we are hardly capable to think clearly anymore. Suddenly we remember David King, who assisted us already two years ago. Luck has it that we find him in the telephone book and that he is at his office at this holiday afternoon and picks up the phone. After talking to him, things change very rapidly. He informs Anil Beharry, the Toyota boss, who on his turn talks immediately to the Immigration Officer Knight, what causes him to put us straight away in a taxi for the 40 km distant Georgetown. We were granted a stay of one month and told, how generous this would be! (The other Westerner got only two days; how the Indians solved their problems, we do not know).

 

 

 

St. George’s Cathedral is entirely built
of wood and is reputedly the world’s
tallest wooden building
Indian temples are always a
wonderful sight besides the
many mosques and churches
The Islamic Center on the road
to Parika is one of the many
mosques around Georgetown
 
More than three hours after our arrival, we are finally on our way to the capital and are immediately overwhelmed again by the unique charm of the houses in their traditional colonial style, as well as the beautiful mosques and Hindu temples which are lining the road. We are looking forward to spend some more time in Guyana again. Shortly before night fall and after having shared a few cool beers with Anil Beharry and his friends, we step through the well known door of the traditional house of Suresh Rampersad, the Trinidadian General Manager of Toyota, being currently on holidays. For us it is a bit like coming home and we are more than happy that – like two years ago – we are able to have such a centrally located and relaxed place to stay again.

 

 

 

Flooded Georgetown on
January 17th, 2005
St. Barnabas Church on
Regent Street in Georgetown
Vendor of music instruments
 
After having spent more than 20 months in the beautiful Caribbean region while “cruising” through 16 different islands, we dive into another world, into a “real” world again, where not the holiday atmosphere is prevailing everyday, but rather the struggle to survive the daily life. Here, not much is set out for the tourism yet, because up to now, there is hardly any. Things are more modest, more colorful, more chaotic and especially more lively, and everything has its distinguished African touch. Is Georgetown still as dangerous as it was two years ago? At that time we had been warned that we were playing Russian roulette. Our today’s impression is that the situation is still pretty much the same as before, not better but also not worse. Still the same dark clouds of ongoing criminality are darkening the sky of this capital, which was once ruled alternatively by the Dutch and the English. We cannot move around as freely as we would like to. Some parts of the city are definitively no go areas, and a certain caution and alert is essential everywhere at anytime. Many small shops are operating only behind bars. At 5pm everybody starts to close down, and at 6pm the streets are deserted. Police with bulletproof vests in open jeeps - the weapons ready for use – are on patrol. Businesses and private houses have watchmen around the clock (nevertheless - two years ago three jerry cans were stolen and a mirror detached from our LandCruiser on the parking lot in front of the house). Homeless and drugged people and beggars live alongside channels, sleep on the streets, under shady trees or on park benches. Many of them seem to be already affected so much by drugs that they cannot control themselves anymore and wander through the streets talking and shouting around.

 

 

 

Visit of courtesy at the Minister of
Tourism, Hon. Manzoor Nadir
Quamina Street with
simple wooden houses
Vendor of baskets at
“Big Lime” Celebration
 
Despite of all: Guyana - “country of many waters” as it is called in the Amerindian language or alternatively also “land of six peoples”, is still a magic destination: The lively and colorful Georgetown bears still very much the charm of an old plantation city. At high tide, it lies 90 cm (1 yard) below sea level and is protected against the Atlantic Ocean by a seawall, built by the Dutch. It is criss-crossed and lined out with an efficient system of drainage canals. There are broad avenues skirted with beautiful old trees. Banana trees grow on channel edges, blue water hyacinths and red, pink and white lotus flowers float on the water surface, the giant leafs used by the Hindus as food containers for vegetarian meals at religious and wedding celebrations. A wonderful nostalgic architecture with some well preserved buildings is present throughout the city, even in the smallest of side roads, where - flanked by tall, dark-green mango trees – the gleaming white old wooden Victorian houses with gingerbread-style fretwork look like taken from a picture book. They are real jewels and we sincerely hope that the people of Guyana realize the great value of this heritage and will preserve it accordingly. One of the buildings which impress us the most is the blue-white City Hall looking like a castle with its turrets and towers. Unfortunately the beautiful restored Sacred Heart Church burnt down on Christmas day 2004 due to carelessness. Interesting is also the mixture of cultures, religions and mentalities living together in this city of 200’000 inhabitants. They originate from African and Indian descendents of slaves who worked on sugar plantations, but also of Portuguese, Chinese and Amerindian origin. The main public transports are mini buses, mostly Toyotas, with hectic drivers who speed dangerously through the streets with constant honking. Now and then we spot antique horse carts moving through the crowd, still used daily for transporting people and goods, and everywhere are vendors trying to sell all kind of necessities.

 

 

 

Some lively scenes from „Mashramani“, Guyana’s Carnival. These pictures were taken by us in 2003
 
Our LandCruiser finally arrives on January 17th in a container of the Dutch EWL - Europa West-IndiŽ Lijnen, the day when the big rain falls and when Guyana experiences the worst flooding in recent memory. Half of the coast finds itself hip-deep under water. Ten of thousands of homes are affected and hundred of thousands of people are cut off, being able to circulate only by boat or wading through the water. Relief operations from the government are on its way every day to bring warm meals, food rations and drinking water to the affected areas. Life comes to a stand still. Schools, businesses, grocery stores, markets, public transport and government offices close their doors. So does the customs. We are on the better side, having only the kitchen flooded and being still able to cook while standing in the dirty filthy water. Two friends of Suresh, who had to be evacuated from their home, are joining us for five nights. They tell us that they had even a snake fleeing into their flooded house, apparently not a single case for people living in the countryside. Also stories of stranded alligators circulate! This catastrophe is primarily the cause of the very heavy rainfalls of over three feet within only three days. But highly responsible is also the negligence in the maintenance of the canals, sluices and pumps, which regulate the water level of this coastal area below sea level, as well as mountains of garbage, weed and silt that clog the channels and waterways hopelessly. What makes things worse is that the sluices - which release the water into the sea - can be opened only about every six hours at low tide.

 

 

 

The beautiful wooden Church of the Sacred Heart was built in 1862 for the Portuguese community –
it burnt down completely on December 26, 2004
 
Understandably, the priorities of the government are now to get relief to the suffering people and the release of our car has to wait. But more seriously is another problem, so that we are already consider diverting our container. As we entered Guyana two years ago by land from Brazil, procedures were so uncomplicated and easy. We remember that back in Lethem - the small border settlement – we had to search for the immigration officer. Finally we found him cooking in his simple white painted house. The Customs Officer on the other hand had his office in a room of the Takutu Guesthouse. Both stamped in our entry immediately. And here in Georgetown, the car entering by sea, a bond is required. How much this will be is evaluated after the car’s inspection. Due to our experience, bonds tend to be usually very high and only reimbursable after the car has left the country – consequently we never took the chance. Who guarantees us that we would ever see our money again?

 

 

 

Nostalgic architecture: The Masonic Hall
Two sweet little girls in Georgetown
Every day we can admire the beautiful
sight of the Promenade Gardens
across the street of “our” house
 
Just when our hopes are fading, we talk once more to David King, who was our “savior” already twice in the past. This time he tells us that he knows the Customs Commissioner personally who might be able to wave the bond and that he will talk to him. Our spirits are on the up again! Despite that the written request is on the Commissioners desk already on Friday, December 14th, i.e. prior to the big flooding, only eleven days later, on January 25th, we are able to reach him. We are very nervous, as his Yes or No will decide about our immediate future! Luckily it is a Yes - what a huge relief! As it is only Tuesday, we have some hopes to get the car cleared by Friday. But on Wednesday, a new hurdle pops up in form of a shipping agency’s bill of US$ 1895, although a free transport was granted for our LandCruiser by SeaboardMarine and EWL. Being two shipping lines and three agents involved (Sint Maarten, Barbados (transshipment) and Georgetown), it takes three days to sort out where this bill is originating from. Finally on Friday this problem is also solved (it originated in Sint Maarten). Our final amount to pay remains now just US$ 375, covering the transshipment costs in Barbados, i.e. the costs to move the container from one vessel to the other, which we knew would go on our account.

 

 

 

A steel band at the yearly
„Big Lime“ Celebration
Tower of Christ Church, "flanked"
by flowers of Promenade Gardens
The 'Couroupita Guianensis', the
rare cannon ball tree, which is
named after its poisonous fruit
 
Another weekend approaching, there is nothing we can do than wait to the following week. On Tuesday next week we finally get an appointment for the car examination by the customs. It does not look too promising, as we are told that we will have to pay duty on all of our personal belongings, i.e. on the whole car’s content. We argue that everything is old, used stuff, which we will export to Brazil again in about a month’s time. For the rest of the week, they let us in the dark, as the paperwork has firstly to go through the same old bureaucracy which the English always left behind. Only in the seventh week of our Guyana stay - on Tuesday, February 8th, exactly 22 days after the container’s arrival - we are told by the broker of Toyota, who did all the customs work free of charge for us, that the papers have finally been legalized and certified and thus the car will be released. The biggest surprise is that finally we didn’t have to pay any duty at all! Being reunited with our LandCruiser again, which has become an indispensable part of us, means to get back our freedom, the freedom to plunge into new adventures.

 

 

 

Afternoon sun at the Celina
Atlantic Resort in Georgetown
Children playground at the Celina
Atlantic Resort in Georgetown
Beautiful tropical flower
Allamande
 
Articles in newspapers about us in Guyana:
Article: "Swiss world record travelers in Guyana", December 19, 2002
Interview: "World famous traveling couple calls on Tourism Minister", December 21, 2002
Article: "Around the World in 18 years", Dezember 25, 2002