Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stella goes to Guyana

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 12 September 2010)

While most people read this Sunday column, I will be on a plane back to the United States from Guyana. My husband and I came here to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We chose Guyana over Hawaii for this notable milestone because we believed we would have more fun – and we were right.

It was not easy for us to get to Guyana though. We flew American Airlines from San Antonio, Texas to Dallas, Texas, then from Dallas to Miami, Florida. From Miami we flew to Trinidad where we arrived at the Caribbean Airlines ticketing counter just under an hour before our flight to Guyana. However, the ticketing agents would not even allow us to attempt to board, telling us we were too late to get to the plane even though this process only took 15 minutes the next morning, and that included going through security.

However, the agents were kind enough to tell us that if we had flown Caribbean Airlines from Miami, we would not have had this problem. This piece of information was very frustrating at the end of a very long day of travel. We contacted a hotel just a few minutes from the airport and shelled out US$200 to sleep four hours just to get up and walk those few steps from the ticketing agents, up the stairs, through security and then to our gate.

We arrived in Guyana at 8:30 am, which brought our total travel time to 24 hours. Like I said, it was not easy to get here.

I am writing this column on Friday morning (as I usually do). I have spent four full days in Guyana and I could not be happier that we decided to come here for this special occasion. We had already booked our hotel in Hawaii and had plans to go there instead. However, after attending a reggae concert on a short trip to the DC area, my husband looked at me and said, “Let’s go to Guyana instead.” And here we are.

We have visited family we haven’t seen in years and there were hugs and kisses galore. I finally got to meet some of my Kaieteur News colleagues. Talk about smart people! My husband got together with some friends he grew up with and they told so many great stories. In the first 12 hours after landing in Guyana, I cannot count the number of meals we were given – and everyone handed me a drink. I had so much alcohol by the end of Wednesday night that for the first time in years, I felt sick from it. I drank no alcohol on Thursday.

On Thursday, we went shopping. We did not shop for souvenirs, clothes or jewellery – we shopped for Guyanese treats. We bought pine tarts, sugar cake, beef patties, salara, Chinese cake, cassava pone, cheese straws and tennis rolls. Then we bought some cheese and margarine for the tennis rolls. We came back to our hotel room and started sampling every piece of it. We were in absolute heaven.

As we drove around to get our treats, my husband showed me where he went to school at Queen’s College – just as the children from that school were getting out sporting their uniforms. He was so happy to see the uniforms. He showed me other points of interest to him – a church he attended, a friend lived in that house, etc. – and some others he thought would be of interest to me. He also grumbled about the trash scattered about and the tall grass wanting to be cut. He mentioned that was never the case when he was growing up.

What did I see through my own ever-probing eyes? I saw people – lots of people – going about their lives. I saw a mother walking with a baby in her arms and a toddler running close by. I saw a boy trying to put his arm around a girl while she brushed him off and continued talking to her friends. I saw dozens of vendor booths overflowing with all kinds of fruits and vegetables that I cannot get in Texas. I saw life, vibrant and beautiful.

Speaking of vibrant, oh my how people can talk here. I just love it! I think on Wednesday, I listened to others talk from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep. Since I am quite a talker myself, I had to force myself to keep my mouth shut and listen to the words of others. It is their voice I wanted to hear. By the end of the night, I was on information overload, but I am quite sure once I’m back in Texas I will be able to process everything that was said.

Earlier this week, I heard what I thought was music behind the closed door in my hotel room and when I opened the door to see where the music was coming from, it turned out to be the many sounds of the birds and other tropical wildlife. I took a nap one day and when I closed my eyes, I heard what sounded like the rain forest setting on my Sound Soother clock that I received last Christmas from my brother and his wife. Just beautiful and the real thing.

My point in referencing the clock is to show that what so many people try to copy in other parts of the world, Guyana has naturally. As I write this column, I still have two whole days to enjoy Guyana and I intend to savour each and every moment. And for the record, despite what the president says about Guyana’s hotels, I stayed at the Pegasus and it was absolutely perfect.

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