Return to Georgetown

Greetings from the lobby of the Hotel Tower in Georgetown, Guyana, where I am miraculously able to access free wifi (while mosquitos eat me alive).

What a day.

Last night, I craved rain. So a local taught me a rain summoning chant: “Mike mike musawa!” I repeated it three timesd and the heavens split open to crap down a river of unending rain. In the morning, I washed in the raised and blackened river, as nameless flotsam floated by.

I presented my snake boots to our boat captain as a gift, and was immediately beset with personal requests for more boots from everyone else in the vicinity. One 10 year old girl, who claims she wants to be a scientist, implored me, “You must remember us!”

We left Waramadong on schedule at 7:30 am on an emormous bark canoe. But this time we took with us an old man with a broken hip, who had to be lifted on in a sling, his wife, a woman with a broken arm, another abused woman with human bite marks on her arm, her baby, another woman and her baby who suffers from a strange flaccid paralysis, and a random selection of rivergoers.

Arriving in Karamang at 9:30, we were abashed to find the weather disfavourable for an aerial pickup. We lingered for hours before our two bush planes could land. Most of us, and our bags, left for Georgetown in the first plane. But two (thankfully not me) stayed behind to carry the man with the broken hip into the second plane.

You need to understand that these are remote river folk. None of them had ever been in a car, let alone an airplane, before. And now they were being compelled to fly to the nation’s only city at a time of great medical distress.

Well, most of us arrived in good order and headed to the hotel to wash up. The second plane, however, was delayed 2 hours. Upon arrival, no ambulance was available to take the man with the broken hip to the hospital. Instead a station wagon was found for him and his wife, while the others went on to the hotel in another taxi.

Both vehicles took the same route. But the hotel bound vehicle was stopped because of an accident up ahead… the station wagon had crashed! The man with the broken hip was thrown forward. His wife crashed through the windshield, earning an enormous hematoma on her face. A miscreant from the crowd then attempted to steal their meager belongings. The taxi, too, was totalled, removing the sole source of income for the driver. (There is no real insurance here.) In one brief moment, three lives were altered, possibly permanently.

You also need to understand what a nightmare Georgetown public hospital is. People will attend to your basic medical needs. But no one will ask about your emotional disposition or if you understand the system or if youu have a place to go. There is plenty of tragedy to go around.