Thursday, August 30, 2012

SHARKFOOD!


I'm having the best time here! Port of Spain is treating me really well. And today was an especially cool day. The thing is that last year, apart from the curfew and the state of emergency, I also fell sick. I slept right under the A/C in the room and got a really high fever and a cold. So I couldn't participate in most of the programme of the excursion, but this time around I can. This morning, we headed out to Waterloo and saw temples and after that we dropped Christian off at UWI and headed out to Maracas Bay to go to the beach. Cordula, Susanne, me and Andy. Andy is the best driver, said by him and confirmed by us. 


Can you see what's extra interesting about this picture of our car on the highway? 


Close-up for the ones who couldn't see it. 

On the way there, we already had a lot of fun, not only because our car was able to move even when it was going at 0 km/h, but because Andy's car also suffers from accute attention deficit and therefore puts a lot of effort into making us spend time paying special attention to it. It was not a problem though, because he could fix it without much trouble and the landscape here in Trinidad is amazingly beautiful. 


Andy and his car. 


Snapshot out of the window along the way. 


Beautiful or beautiful? Beautiful. 


We stopped at a panoramic viewpoint along the road for this picture. So worth it! 

Now to the sharkfood... omnomnom... 

We got to the beach some 10 or 15 minutes after that short stop and the first and most important thing to do was get food. Why? I know, food isn't usually my top priority (Let's leave NYC and things on sticks out of this for a sec, why don't we...), but this is different. In Trinidad, you get shark. Shark! SHARK!!!

Bake and Shark - or Shake and Bark, as I call it now - is very popular in Trini and you can get it in many places, but one of the best places to get it is Maracas Bay. There are a number of food stands, little huts, really, across the street from the beach itself and they all sell Bake and Shark. Allegedly, the best one is Richard's, but I can't confirm that because I only tried it there and not at any other place. Last year, I had one by Queen's Park Savannah, not at the beach. I have to say, though, it was pretty good. Although... actually... that's a lie. It wasn't pretty good. It was freaking incredible!!! I love that stuff!

As you might be able to guess from my tone as I'm writing this, I was pretty excited, because I had been looking forward to my first Bake and Shark for a long time. That's because I remembered how good it was last year - it's the kind of food you don't just forget - and it's not something you can find anywhere else. So didn't want to waste stomach space on bread (duh) and got just shark. No bake for me, I just got plain Jaws. And I basically got twice the amount of shark for the same price, because the guy was in a good mood, YAY! So happy, because it was so good! 


My gigantic portion of shark. That's four pieces and in a Bake and Shark, you just get two. Lucky me!!


My shark with garlic, ketchup, coleslaw and a shovel-load of cucumber. Perfect! 


Me, happy. 

Oh my gods, the deliciousness of it! Undescribable! Is that a word? I don't care! It was undescribably good. After eating, we crossed the road and hit the sand. While the others changed into their swimsuits, I got us a beach chair so we'd have somewhere to leave our stuff. Andy got back first and immediately jumped in the water, then Cordula and Susanne came and Susanne and I followed the best driver in the world into the blue. Really blue this time, not red or yellow anymore. You know how you're not supposed to go into the water right after eating? Obviously, that doesn't apply when you eat shark, because when you eat shark you become the shark (Or at least, I did.) and that means you'll swim better. 

                              I AM THE SHARK!!! 
                   _______\o/____________/\_______ 
(I stole this from the comments of the YouTube video that link takes you to, I had to!)

Oh and swim we did. Susanne and I never even left the water until it was time to go back to Port of Spain. OK, I did leave it for 2min at one point to take some pictures of the beach, but that was it. Here's some of them: 







Maracas is on the north side of Trinidad, which is the Caribbean side. The water was warm with icy cold undercurrents, so you could stick your feet down towards the bottom and cool yourself down when you felt the sun was too hot. But swimming or floating it didn't get to you if you were far enough out, which we were most of the time, so it was allright. It looks pretty calm on that last picture, but there are actually very powerful waves at this beach. To get in and out of the water you usually have to jump or you get knocked over, which can be a lot of fun - especially to watch. 

As I said before, I spent the whole time in the water apart from the two minutes for pictures. It was so wonderful, so soothing, even revitalizing. I love the sea so much, I can't even describe it. And Susanne does too, so we had a great time together, especially because we have a very similar sense of humour and thus had tons of fun. Also with Andy. At one point he went out so Cordula could swim too, but I guess she's not that much of a water person, because she left again pretty quickly. 

And we didn't just float around or paddle in circles like many people do, today we got plenty of exercise in the water. We swam all the way out to the buoy, and back and forth in the bay and we jumped the waves and did sharkfights - I said it before, I was the shark, so obviously people were attacked and there were fights. Logical, right? Menacing, dark clouds appeared over the mountainous horizon at one point, but they didn't make it all the way into the bay so we had a rain-free day. We did see a rainbow though, a really big one. Well, what can I say? Just this: 

Sea, thank you for being lovely as always. 
Shark, thank you for letting me eat you and being yummy. 
Sun, thank you for shining on us and not letting the rain get to us. 
Andy, thank you for driving and being cool. 


Me, happy, again. 

We even stayed longer than we were supposed to. Tomorrow is Independence Day, but the festivities in the centre already started to day and the original plan had been to stay at the beach until around 4.30PM and then go home, shower and change, and then head to Woodford Square to see what's up. But, because we love the water so much and so does Andy, we didn't get away from the beach until after six. Oops.  

Again, though, it was worth it! Best day in quite a while!! And I even got a Shandy for the drive home, perfect end to a perfect day at the beach. 

Trinidad, you're awesome. I like you a lot. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rockin' the West Indies!


For weeks I've been talking about how much I'm looking forward to Trinidad and Tobago. Now I finally am in Port of Spain and I couldn't be happier. OK, maybe I could be happier, but withing realistic circumstances I am at the highest possible level of happiness right now. 

Susanne and I are sharing a great room in the Caribbean Tourist Villa - the same hotel where most of our group already stayed last year and the room is cheaper for us than anticipated, because I had a little talk with the manager last night and he remembers me from last year and didn't even try to haggle, he just agreed to the price I proposed. The weather here is wonderful: it's beautiful and sunny most of the time. This morning it was extremely hot, but it just rained for about an hour and now it's cooled down again to a more comfortable temperature. I'm getting deeper into my research about general Caribbean topics, so that in a while, when I have a good overview, I can decide on a possible topic for my PhD thesis. And I finally got some Carib Shandy Sorrel - a sixpack just for me! 

No, I'm not an alcoholic, that stuff is just freaking delicious!! 

Yesterday morning, we all went out for a city tour through Port of Spain. All the places we visited yesterday, I've seen before, but still it was all new to me. That's because last year when we were here, there was a state of emergency in all of Trinidad. Half the public life seemed to have been shut down and there was even a curfew, nobody without a special permit could be in the street after 9PM. For that reason, 99% of places closed at 6PM to make sure all their employees would be able to make it home on time. Not the best circumstances for experiencing and really getting to know a new place. This year, it becomes even more obvious to me how bad the situation last August and September really was, because even in the day everything is more lively now than it was then. 


By the ferry terminal. Out behind the boats there's Venezuela. Hi, Venezuela!


Before the ALCA fell through, this place was supposed to become the Brussels of the Caribbean. 

Right here next to the ferry terminal there's a little food court of sorts, it's outside and not attached to any kind of mall, but there's still the typical food-court-like collection of little places to get breakfast, lunch, dinner and fresh juices. I had a watermelon juice and a sapodilla juice (not the same as zapote) and then we kept walking around the centre until we found a Rituals, where we had coffee. Yesterday really was a great day food-wise, because I had a lot of juice and some coffee and lemonade and I had water, but I only had one sandwich. I feel that I'm eating too much now that I'm with the group, because I eat when the others eat instead of when I'm really hungry. That's getting better now, though, because I had a good start yesterday and today I went shopping so I don't have to go to restaurants anymore if I don't want to. 

OK, back to the city walk. We walked all around Independence and up to Woodford Square and then back down to the bus terminal which used to be a train station. From there, we took a bus out to St. Augustine to visit the UWI campus. That was awesome, because it meant books. We'd already gone into a bookshop in Henry Street, but then we also went to the UWI bookshop on campus and after that we visited the International Relations department's library and the main Alma Jordan Library. There, we spent a few hours so I had plenty of time to look up good literature for my different fields of interest and browse through some of the volumes. 



It was great, really, and the further along I go on this trip and the more time I spend around universities and libraries the more I want to go back university myself. I just have to keep studying, I can't help it. During the last two or three weeks, after sliding into travel-mode and before coming to Trini, I was almost not sure anymore that I really wanted to keep going with my academic formation. You know there's beaches and everything's relaxed and my job allows me to keep going like that forever, at least in theory. But now... now... 









Seriously, this is me right now.

Paola, I hope you're having fun with this page, sweetie. Laugh about AAAALL the pictures! 

I shouldn't talk too much about my university-related plans, because I'm already way more excited than is good for me and my heart. But positively excited, in the best way possible. 

So, yeah, I mentioned bookshops, right? And, well, you konw what I'm like, right? So, basically, we all know what I'm about to say... right? OK, I'll just say it. I bought two. 

I had to! They wanted me to buy them! They would have been sad forever if I hadn't bought them and I would have been even sadder! I couldn't have let that happen! It's not my fault! Just look at what I bought and give me a chance, OK? They're not useless or stupid books. They're good for me! I can use them! For my future! They're basically necessary for my academic and professional advancement! I depend on those books!! 

Look here: 

Richard S. HILLMAN and Thomas J.D. D'AGOSTINO (eds.), Understanding the Contemporary Caribbean. Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston, 2009². 

Peter A. ROBERTS, The Roots of Caribbean Identity: Language, Race and Ecology. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2008. 

Do you understand me now? Do you understand why I had to get these books? Do you understand the contemporary Caribbean? No? Neither do I! That's why I got the book. Now, I'll be able to understand it really soon. 



This is what I have to look forward to this evening. I'm pretty stoked. 

Today was supposed to be a beach day, but I've had weeks of beaches before I joined the group and I'll have months of beaches once I'm back to traveling by myself. So instead of joining the others, I joined Christian and Verena to go back to the bookshop in the centre. There, I got my two new babies. Then, I went to the bank to get some more cash, because I took too little at the airport. And then - here comes the part the mean people will like - I walked around in circles for over 20min because I couldn't find TTPost!! And I really had to find it to send my postcards, because there are already stamps on the 21 cards I'm going to send. And I had to lick them all! So there's no way I'm not sending them, I suffered too much already. 

From there, after finally finding the office and posting my cards and wiping off the gallons of sweat, I took a St. James car to French Street to do some shopping at Hi Lo. Yes, I got Carib Shandy Sorrel! Finally! A six pack!! Wohooo!!! But that's not the only reason I went to the supermarket before coming back to the hotel. I also got tons of juice and some milk and cereal and bread and cheese. For alimentary independence. 

Oh and talking about independence: Trinidad and Tobago is celebrating their 50th anniversary of Independence this year, and we'll be here for the big day on August 31st! 


Congratulations, Trinis!!

I like it here. I'm having a good time. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Goodbye, Guyana.


I'm seriously getting back on that party-horse, even though everything's small scale at the moment, but it's definitely happening. I'm suffering all the more for it, because I'm not used to drinking and dancing, especially the drinking is hard at the moment. But I will keep going, I will keep trying and I will prevail!! 

Had my first beer in ages the night before last in Bartica. OK, of course I didn't have just the beer. As in, I made myself a cola con pola: beer mixed with a lemonade or soda. In my case, it was a Carib with Guaraná Antártica... mmmgood! We're going to Trini tonight so soon I'll be able to have my beloved Carib Shandy Sorrel, then I won't have to mix anymore, because it's already prepared. Sorry, beer-lovers. I don't like beer, I can't stand the taste, so if I want to drink it (and I sometimes do, don`t ask me why) then I have to alterate it to make sure it doesn't come right back up. 

So the day before yesterday, after relaxing for a while and applying like a bottle of aprés-sun lotion each, we marched down the main street to the Brazilian place we'd scoped out the evening before: Victoria. It's really cool that there's so many Brazilians in Bartica, because I finally got to practice my Portuguese there! Agora sim falo novamente, ainda é só um pouco, mas um pouco é muito melhor que nada! OK, back to English. At Victoria, all the tables are outside, partly under and partly next to the sun-roof (rain-roof, really). So we sat down and ordered hamburgers, which are really good there. They use real meat and real bread and if you order extras, they're really there. So unlike certain fast-food chains, which they don't even have in Guyana - another plus point for the country. 

Before the food came, we watched as big, black clouds came slowly creeping towards us and all of a sudden there it was: thunderstorm! The wind blew, the rain fell sideways and it got so cold, I had to go inside, because outside it was freezing. Only I also felt the same cold inside, because all the doors were wide open. Anticlimactic... But, then the incredible happened. The Brazilians, the girls who work at the place and the young fellow who helps them out with some things, they made Susanne and Giuliana stand back from the table too and they, wait for it, brought it inside for us! The brought in our table and three chairs, the tablecloth and the decorations and condiments. Then they dried everything and then they made us sit down in the middle of the place. Our food arrived about the same time as the table, so we got sit in a round of people who then proceeded to openly watch us eat. And it was their good right too, of course, if we sit there like fish in a tank eating our dinner while everybody else who has had to flee from the rain is standing... well... I'll leave it at that. Still, it was very nice of them to take such care of us. 

When the rain stopped, everybody moved back outside. Some guy had started talking to me before we got our food and he and his girlfriend/wife/whatever invited us to share their table, because no others were free. It was a little weird, because they all were asking strange questions and we didn't really want to answer them, but it was fun anyways. Six people at one table speaking four different languages, all at once! 

After, we had a lecture at our guesthouse and after that I got to talk academic future possibilities with Christian, who's kind of sort of something like my advisor, so I'm pretty happy with the overall outcome of the day. 

Yesterday we went back to Georgetown and I got into trouble. Well, not real trouble, but a little bit of trouble-like circumstance. See, my back had been hurting for a day and with the long boat ride and then the bus ride, that got worse. So when we got to the hotel, I took two painkillers à 500mg of acetaminophen. Dolex, from Colombia, because they're the ones that work best. Others with the same active ingredient would do the trick too, but those are he ones I had and they have the extra plus of making me fall asleep, like really quickly. Not sure why, all others don't do that. Point is, I took two but I didn't go to sleep. I could have slept, within less than 20min I was half gone, but I kept myself awake. Why? Because I had internet, finally! Yes, welcome to my world. 

So I spent my time surfing and flying (and spinning and well, basically high), but I did have the sense of not joining the evening programme of going to the Intercultural Festival of the Three Guyanas. We had some food at the hotel and then it was time to celebrate Seppi's last night with the group, because he's going straight to Tobago and then to Austria after we get to Port of Spain this evening. Every time we had to collectively pay something and got change, I kept that leftover money and collected it on the side for an event like this. So because we were to have a farewell party for Seppi, I went to the gas station with that money - 5,000 Guyana Dollars - and blew it all on booze and snacks. Just doing what I was told, I was following direct orders from the big boss, so don't judge me here. 

"Here's 5,000 Dollars, go shopping." 

While shopping was necessary, drinking wasn't. I accept that. I just felt that what with us sitting together as a group, it would have been somewhat antisocial not to accept a cup of rum and coke. 

Or two. 

Oops. 

So there I was, already half high with painkillers and then drowning them in rum. Well, there had been somthing like three or four hours between the pills and the drink, but I think that not sleeping wasn't a smart move. I was fine last night, no problem at all, but this morning I did not wake up happy. Churning stomach and I guess the alcohol must have prolonged the effect of the acetaminophen, because for the longest time I still couldn't feel my body. I'm back to normal now - sadly, that means that the back pain has returned too - and everything is fine. But I hope I'll have learned from this. 

We still have the small bottle of rum and we're taking it to Trinidad, because tonight is Giuliana's last night - especially sad for Susanne and me, we're going to miss her. 

So, now everybody is slowly getting out of bed (we've been up for hours, but with the laptops) and getting packed and ready to go to Trinidad. I'm really looking forward to that, as I think I've said before. Trinidad, here we come! And to you Guyana, a thank you. You were fun! 


Now off to backpack-packing-craziness. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Jungle adventures!!!



Yesterday was definitely better than the day before yesterday, because we took the hotel owner’s boat out onto the Essequibo River. Then we switched onto the Mazaruni River, which is a part of the first one. You just “pass the white buoy” and are in a different river. 


Our oh-captain-my-captain was a licensed tour guide for this area, so he explained things about what he showed us. About the river(s), about the quarries we passed on the shores, about the little islands in the river Essequibo (there are 365 in the Essequibo alone, they all have names but most of them are uninhabited). 

First, he took us to see the Mazaruni prison, on the far side of the river. It was already there in colonial times and has been active as a prison all this time, Cheddi Jagan was there as a political prisoner for a while. We didn’t go ashore, but that was no problem, because we all really wanted to get to the beach already, which was our scheduled next stop. 

The Mazaruni prison, old and new.

A few minutes down the river from the fort, there was a little island and that one wasn’t pure mangrove; the north shore was sandy. Unfortunately, it was privately owned so we had to pay for using the beach, but it was fine because it wasn’t much and it was definitely worth it. Just don’t ask me what the island was called, I have not even a trace of a clue. We all hopped off the boat into the golden sand and most of us didn’t even take a look around the place before basically ripping off our clothes and running into the water like madmen. It was deliciously cool and so calm, because the current of the river didn’t get close to the beach. And these rivers are so wide, you have a lot of space to swim around in worry-free! There were funny little mini-currents in the river too, where you’d swim and one metre was cold, the next warm and then cold again. 

Beach. 

Beach.

Not our boat.

The OCMC explained that the water gets its colour because of the iron in it and the redness of the ground; like Redi Doti, Bartica means red earth. It was a little muddy in the river, because there’s constantly boats going up and down that liquid highway, but it was still beautiful to swim in and so refreshing. After a while we had to force ourselves back out of the water and onto the boat to keep going and see more, because the beach wasn’t the only planned real stop for us and, luckily, also not the only one that involved swimming.

Our first stop after the beach was the old Dutch fort Kyk Over Al, but we couldn’t get off the boat, because the little stairway up onto the island had just been tarred and the rest was mangroves, no way you can walk through that. So we just saw the only thing left from the fort: the old stone doorway. We took our pictures from the boat and kept going, which was what everybody (except for Christian) had really wanted to do anyway, because the next destination was a waterfall and we all (or most of us, because one girl is scared of water – don’t ask me why she’s on this trip…) really wanted to jump back into the cool blue red. 

The doorway that's left of Kyk Over Al.

We didn’t go straight there, though, the OCMC took us through some rapids first. Not to worry, they were shallow and not dangerous at all. Still, the boat jumped around and the soundscape immediately changed from motor, birds and wind in the trees to motor, shrieks and crazy laughter. After some rock-hopping, we turned back (another round of rapids) and finally went to where the falls were. The OCMC moored the boat to some trees and covered it up in case we were surprised by rain and from there we started the 15-20min walk through the jungle into the depths of the Guyanese fauna to where the waterfall was waiting for us. Again, I have not the slightest idea what it’s called. 

Beautiful Mazaruni riverscape.

The walk was nice, because it was comparatively cool between the trees and we saw many interesting plants. OK, this sounds boring. And it was. The real reason I loved the walk was that I got to hold on to the OCMC’s machete. MACHETE IS BACK!!! 

M for MACHETE!!!

He’d brought it in case there were fallen trees or other obstacles in the way, but in the end there was nothing and I got to walk through the jungle feeling like Rambo and chopping branches off trees. That thing was sharp! Like, really sharp! I touched it to a branch at one point and I didn’t put any force behind it, but it still left a dent. One branch I cut off (Sorry, I know it’s not nice but I just really, really had to…) was pretty thin, usually a branch like that would yield before the blade and move with it instead of withstanding and being cut off. But this machete severed it straight and it didn’t even really move, it just fell. Crazy!! Needless to say, I loved that part of the day. 

This isn’t to say that the waterfall itself wasn’t great, because it was. We even had a little adventure, because to get under the fall we had to climb over the rocks under the surface of the water and get to where the current wouldn’t pull us down and away from where we were supposed to stay, where it was safe. We had a lot of fun there – again, that’s everyone apart from the girl who’s afraid of water… Pictures were taken, but I don’t yet have all of them, because there were so many different cameras involved, I don’t even know who has them right now. 





Thank you Guyana!

The falling water made for a great back massage, even though it stole my hairband and opened Giuliana’s bikini top. And it also tried to take everyone’s pants off, but, luckily for us, it didn’t succeed there. Especially lucky for me, because smart thing that I am, I forgot to bring a bikini bottom (Whooooooo live in a pineapple under the sea…) and I wouldn’t have been able to change into my underwear if I lost my clothes, because that’s what I was already wearing. Yes, I was walking around the beach and the island in my underpants. So what? They were colourful and could have been a bikini. Shut up! 

After trekking back from the falls to the boat, we were going to go to the beach again, but the OCMC decided that no, we weren’t going there because he didn’t want to pay again. Aww… BUT! We had passed a gold boat (not a boat made of gold, a boat that takes the people to where the gold is and that they use to vacuum the riverbed and get the gold out of the sand from down there) on the way to the falls and on the way back we stopped and asked if we could come aboard and have a look around. And they said yes! 

Gold boat, not working at the moment.

Gold boats are interesting both in a technical sense – if that’s what you care about and that’s what you understand – and also in a social sense. The owner – a person, not a company – was a Brazilian guy and most of the people working on the boat were, too. At the moment we visited, they were moored in a little bay, because they had to do some repairs on the boat. There were more Guyanese people on it then, because they’d come down from G/town to help with the repairworks. But after ten days, that’s how long they’d calculated the repairs to take, these people would go back home via Bartica and the rest, only a handful of people and only one of them Guyanese, would take the boat another 2-3 days further inwards, or south, and then stay there for months searching for gold. We were told by one of the welders from G/town that their record findings amounted to around three pounds of gold per 24hrs. 

The young Guyanese explaining the gold-washing process.

We even got refreshments from the gold guys, or rather, from the one woman on that boat; they gave us cold coke, passion fruit juice and peanuts. They were visibly glad about our visit, because for once they got to talk to someone who wasn’t in the gold trade, but a group of mainly young people from different places who were sincerely interested in what their lives were like and wanted to hear their stories. A welcome change from the roaring of engines that they usually hear 24/7 on that boat. 

After that we just went back to Bartica and I would like to talk about our evening there, but I will do that later as Susanne is getting ready for breakfast and I want to go get some bread and cheese now. 

Later, dudes.


PS: I write this today in the morning and am posting it now because there was no internet in Bartica. More about yesterday and today later. Or something. 

Gold diggers, baby!



Bartica. The golden village. Not. 

We left the city, Georgetown („city“), in the morning and of course everything took forever – we’re still a group, after all. First stop, the cash machine, because everyone had to get more money. I haven’t yet seen a single ATM in Bartica, so it was smart to make the stop at Scotia Bank. Second stop, Caribbean Airlines, because some of our flights had to be re-confirmed. This one I don’t understand because I’ve never in my life re-confirmed a flight and I’ve never been taken off one. What is the point? Only the gods know. Or in our case, Christian. Whatever. Third stop, Parika – the actual destination of that first bus ride. 

In Parika we had a little break from traveling, because we had to wait for our boat to get ready for the trip. You can go to Bartica by plane, but that’s expensive. And you can travel by car, too, but that takes hours and hours and hours and the roads are bad, because Guyana only has that one main road along the coast (pretty much like French Guyana and Suriname) and a few not-so-well-constructed ones that go into the interior. Bartica isn’t even that far from the coast, more or less the same distance from the Atlantic as the airport in Georgetown, but it’s in the middle of the jungle. 

It had already started raining on the way to Parika and once we’d gotten there it started to really pour. And then it stopped. And then it poured again. And it stopped and it poured and so on and so forth. After a while, our boat was ready and we got to board with all our stuff wrapped in big black trash bags, because we had to be prepared for rain and splashing water on the boat, even though it was roofed. In the end, we were fine, because it stopped raining during our journey and the captain was a smooth driver – much smoother than me on that ferry! 

It took us an hour to get to Bartica, compared to the six hours it takes the car-ferry to get there that’s really quick. I wish I could have taken pictures while we were out on the Essequibo river, but my camera was inside its case, inside the bag, inside a trash bag. It was absolutely beautiful. The river is extremely wide, so it looks almost like you’re navigating on a big lake, or on the sea when it’s calm and you’re close to the shore. And the river banks were all mangroves so it reminded me a lot of home – the Colombia home, mind you. 

We got there and had to find a place to stay, because rooms had been reserved in the Platinum Inn, but that wasn’t a nice place and also they didn’t have triple rooms, which was a problem especially for Giuliana, Susanne and me. So we started walking around town in the downpour to find a different place and Christian decided to take us to the place he usually stayed at, I don’t remember the name exactly, something with “relax”. Getting there, the guy who ran the place explained that he had actually received a reservation from us, but that he’d given our rooms away, because we hadn’t called again from Georgetown to confirm that we were really coming, something Christian had promised but failed to do. But he was really kind and made some calls to other places he knew were nice and not only did he find us a place that had vacancies, he even took us there in his car so we wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to the other end of the main street in the rain. That was fun, because there were seven of us, eight with him, and he only had that one car. But he fit all of us in and I ended up sitting between him and Giuliana, in the front – on top of the cupholder! I guess, I’m a cup now. 

Also, because I was sitting next to him, Junior, I got to talk to him and he told me he was born and raised in Bartica and that it’s not just the gateway between coast and interior, it’s actually a very lively place full of people who live here their whole lives (according to him, I haven’t seen the liveliness yet…) and there are schools and everything. Of course you’ll need locals in a place like this to provide the infrastructure necessary for all the people who keep coming through, but he actually sounded like he was rather fond of the place, which was nice. 

The place he took us to we’d seen from the boat, it’s a few minutes down the road from the Platinum Inn, where Christian and Verena are staying, and all of us found rooms we’re happy with. And it has a view of the Essequibo… oh wow… look at these pictures! I took these from the terrace: 

The mighty Essequibo.

'D' Factor, our guesthouse.

After we’d had some time to organize ourselves and get our stuff into the rooms, we met up again with the prof at the harbour (ferry dock is what I’d call it) and then we did the official city tour, where we walked up and down the main street for the third time, because we’d already used the free time to get some food, too. The third time! This place is small, so I guess you can imagine how quickly and easily you can get bored, especially if you keep walking up and down the same road. 

Bartica people seem to like bread, we saw three carts like this one on the first day.

Main Street.

The harbour. There's policemen as well as heavily armed military men guarding this place - machine guns!

Venezuelan gasoline. Smuggled, of course. At least part of it. 

Starting that tour we already got the first impression of what a town like this is really all about – twice we were …umm… not harassed, but almost, by intoxicated men in the street. This is the whole group still, not just us girls walking around by ourselves. We went to a gold trading place to see what the current prices were and what the locally dug-up gold looked like, but it was far less interesting than what you’d imagine. And I guess that what you’d imagine already isn’t that interesting, so substract 90% of the interest from that and there you go. What can I say, there’s really not much to do in Bartica and we’re all just wondering why we had to come down here for two nights, when Christian could have told us about the town and the gold and everything in Georgetown. Because even though we went to visit a gold trader, nobody wanted to buy anything... pointless trip, really. 

Fresh gold.

We’re going to see waterfalls and river beaches tomorrow, so that’s going to be a lot of fun if the weather stays civilized. But if we’d left earlier this morning, we could have gone to see that today and then gone back to Georgetown tomorrow. Then we’d have the cool boat rides, the waterfalls, the beaches, a little bit of the miners’ life in the gold-digger-town and still not get bored by spending too much time in this too tiny town. And we’d be spared the almost-harassment, too. These gold diggers are weird people. Very, very weird… Here's two pictures that show you why: 

Gold truck. The decorations show the general sentiment in this town. To be fair, though, not all trucks look like this. But you won't be wrong to assume that this is a Wild West town located in the jungle, bursting with testosterone and where life for women is not a lot of fun. 

Eggsplosion!!!

Well, there’s the group traveling again. I hope the waterfalls are everything we’ve been promised, so they’ll make up for the rest! 

PS: I wrote this post the day before yesterday and I'm posting it today, because we didn't have internet in Bartica. Sorry for the delay.