Georgetown might not have quite the same bad reputation as Jonestown, but it’s still a place where ‘you have to watch yourself’ and ‘casual violence is a problem’. It’s also a place where I had a great time and didn’t see or feel any threat whatsoever. I kept expecting to find the dangerous underbelly of the place, but all I got was the happy Buddha belly.
I stayed at a hotel recommended by a fellow rider I met in St. Elena and was instantly made welcome, with my bike being left on the restaurant patio to ensure it was always in full view of the staff when I was out. I was then invited for a night out with the bartender and Co. after that nights live jazz jam. Hmmm…. We’ll see- Miles Davis fans you know; nothing but trouble!
So, after an evening of jazz and then bar hoping in the scruffy, party part of town where the party was on the street and so was the music, I was up early to start exploring… The city itself is exactly the kind of old colonial town I love to wander aimlessly through; low-rise buildings, white clapboard and red tin roofs, covered markets, etc. Occasional downpours quickly gave way to a merciless sun that turned the streets into steam baths and ensured anyone trying to escape getting wet under cover was caught none the less. In another setting it would have been oppressive, but here it was just the cigarette smoke in a jazz club.
Okay, maybe the big mobile police station at the covered market means there might be a bit of an issue with crime… But just down the block a row of old British Government buildings (now housing the Guyanese government) quickly brought me back to the wild west/Caribbean mashup that is Georgetown.
The parks too are beautifully tended- insisting that you take your lunch to-go and come enjoy it with them.
Mind you, the occasional corner in the park has something a bit more “Oh My God- Kill it With Fire!!” And yes, all those vines are covered in huge thorns.
It would have been easy to spend the entire day poking about, but I first had to get started on my Suriname visa. Getting the paperwork and filling out the form was easy, but one of options under ‘Marital Status’ left me a bit curious about what exactly I was getting myself into…
A day or so later, with my visa in hand, I was back on the road; riding a bit slower than normal as I scoured my brain looking for a good reason why I should stay. I could easily have spent a week or more in the city, but the call of the road is one I rarely try to deny and I think I was almost afraid of something happening to tarnish my experience- I wanted it to stay just as it was.
Though, I do harbour one regret… A particularly politically incorrect part of me was disappointed when I didn’t find any tacky Jonestown souvenirs. A mug like “I went to Guyana and all I got was this lousy cup of kool-aid” would have been just about perfect…