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16 - 22 March 2014

My bus to Georgetown in Guyana was scheduled for a 4.30am pickup at my hostel, so I asked many times in the reception if the company was reliable and somewhat on time. The answer was yes, though sometimes they ran a bit late depending on how many and where in town they had pick ups. I was ready at 4.25 and had no illusion the minibus would be on time but after waiting 45 minutes I called the company because the ferry departure was at 9 and it was around 3½ hours to get there. Good decision as it turned out they had forgotten me (!) but fortunately they immediately sent a car to get me and catch up with the bus – we sped through Paramaribo's streets at 120-140 k/h and caught up with the minibus a bit out of town where it was waiting at a gas station. The bus was full of locals but I managed to squeeze into a small fold-down isle seat leaving no rest or views but at least I got on the bus... Since we were behind schedule the bus driver raced through the countryside exceeding the speed limits by average 50% - wide open land comprising primarily banana plantations, fields, cattle and only a little forest. Like everything “public related” in Suriname getting the ferry ticket was bureaucratic and took over an hour to issue (!?) - presumably because they had to deal with a lot of people taking the ferry forth and back to get a new stamp to prolong their work stay. The ferry waited for everybody so departure was postponed from 9 to almost 11. After ½ hour we arrived in Guyana where immigration (for me being European) was smooth and I got on another minibus for Georgetown. Yet another wannabe racecar driver speeding and doing hazardous overtakings but we got there safe and sound despite some close calls.... I stayed in one of the cheapest places in town though USD 15 was expensive for a small room with paper thin walls and an old bed as well as shared bathroom. No internet and no kitchen access except for hot water for coffee in the morning. Every evening/night I had mice in my room which I didn't really mind as long as they stayed on the floor but it was annoying when they climbed on me and woke me up - I killed a few using bread in a plastic bag but as more kept coming I gave up....

The second day in Georgetown was Phagwah - a holiday where people throw water and coloured powder at each other. I didn't mind the water but people told me the colours couldn't come off, so I stayed in the hostel the whole day - everything was closed anyway. Based on the people I saw in the street and later pictures in the newspaper it was a good decision. The following days I walked around town which was not very inspiring – no museums, etc. so I just strolled around admiring a few nice, old buildings but mostly they were old and ramshackle. The town was dirty with much garbage in the streets, a lot poverty and homeless people and the many ditches/canals were very smelly because of the heat and humidity. A few people greeted me but mostly they just stared – tourists are rare here especially those walking alone around town - I only saw one tourist couple during my many days in town. By comparison less friendly and inviting than the previous places I have visited this winter, but far from as dangerous as many people (including the locals) claimed....

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