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Life in Guyana

I really must salute the courage of the Guyanese, or at least the ones who live in Georgetown. It’s something I have never appreciated before. Now, I am from Trinidad and Tobago, so I know all about bad driving, and terror-filled roads. I am used to driving through the streets of the shopping mecca of Central Trinidad, Chaguanas, where pedestrians rule, they’re out in full force on the roads, and they always have right of way. Always. Or the southern town of Marabella, 4 lanes of 2 way traffic going through the heart of the town, with visitors to businesses and homes all reversing directly onto the street, with nary a glance right, left, or to the rear, and crossing all four lanes with impunity. Or through the sugar belt, when a shift is ending or beginning and you have to contend with legions of cyclists going to their home villages, and the occasional bison or donkey cart, especially at crop time. Not to mention the speed-demons and taxis and maxi-taxis hustling for their dollar on our main roads and highways throughout the island.

Now imagine all that in one city, the capital city – the speed demon taxis, the horse and donkey carts, the pedestrians en masse, the cyclists, oh, the cyclists, for whom road rules are only for cars. Add to that free-roaming cattle, donkeys and horses (something we only have on race courses), a proliferation of scooters, no traffic lights, few streetlights and no real highways i.e. all this madness takes place on roads that pass directly in front of houses and businesses, bars, nightclubs etc. And still, the people of Georgetown walk these roads. These roads that make me thank God everyday that the city is small and I get to work in 10 minutes. 10 fraught-filled minutes of looking out of the corners of my eyes for the scooter that will suddenly dart across the road in front of me to get to a side street – no signal, or the frisky foal who suddenly wants to gallop down North Road. And these people of Georgetown seem so calm.

You may be happy to know, that I have also been breaking the law with impunity myself these past weeks. Technically, in Guyana, you can only drive if you have a local driver’s permit or an international DP. Now my brother in law could have arranged for me to get mine within the first week, but employers also do that, and I thought that I would let that process go forward. I still drove anyway. 2 weeks ago, they requested my DP so that the local Transport Authority could see my TT permit before they granted the Guyanese permit. I submitted it. And still I drove. As my brother in law explains (he’ll be my local lawyer should it come to that) it’s not that I don’t have a permit, it’s just sitting with the authorities. And of course, the night before he leaves the country for a couple weeks, he suddenly says “oh, I don’t know when the insurance is due for the car you are driving.” So I call his secretary the next week, and find out it lapsed in June. JUNE, as in THREE MONTHS AGO. Of course, he thinks this is hilarious. A member of the my family, such sticklers for punctuality and doing things the right way, breaking so very many of his country’s laws. Sigh, where am I headed?

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2 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. Since when is he such a stickler?

    Anywayz, your blogroll (list of links) doesn’t seem to be visible :-(

    1. Lilandra, Empress of Chocolate on July 8th, 2006 at 6:16 pm
  2. hahahaha..this is hilarious, but true. Haven’t been back to guyana in years but this is how i remember it

    3. Jehan can cook on May 20th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

2 Trackbacks

  1. […]  I must admit that there are more than cows on the roads in Guyana. This is well documented. I have documented it. The roads in, out and through Georgetown the capital contain a veritable flood of donkeys, horses, dogs and their varying offspring. I previously lumped the bovines in the same category as the rest of the fauna traffic. But cows are the only ones that sleep on the highways and bye-ways. In herds. And even if they are not “sleeping” they stay there, unmoving like they own the road. Their stares are clearly a challenge to the human inhabitants and judging by their obviously increasing numbers (compared to the Guyanese residents of the homo sapiens variety) they have a purpose. I am now convinced that the other animal species are unwitting pawns in this battle for they never gather on their own with the force and might presented by the cattle herds.  […]

  2. […] wish, but I choose to believe that these people know that cows can READ, hence the sign (because cows generally roam the area unfettered by human accompaniment, so who do they expect to read the prohibition?) AND they are afraid. Very afraid. They need to […]

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