Monday, November 16, 2015

Guyana: It's more than just Kool-aid!

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

I cannot count the number of people who, after realizing I was talking about GUYANA not Ghana, made a comment about not drinking the Kool-aid. It seems that one incident is seared in America's collective memory. It's too bad. Guyana has a lot to offer and should be considered a viable tourist destination(especially for those of you who, like me, don't speak Spanish or Portuguese). I realize that my previous blogs about burning trash, crazy traffic etc, may not encourage you to consider Guyana for your next trip, but really it should be! Just get out of the cities ASAP!

This weekend was really my first time to do that and I had a blast! After doing some Peace Corps-related business Thursday and Friday day, I headed to the Marriott for the pre-marathon pasta dinner. Now if you were to stay in Georgetown, I would say splurge and stay here. It's not even like you're in Georgetown(I know that sounds bad, but I mean that it's just really nice and right by the water etc).
View from the Marriott

Anyway, I will continue with foot in mouth. After gorging myself with pasta, I headed over to Santa Mission Village, an Ameri-Indian settlement about 2 hours away from Georgetown. Now that's 1 hour in a bus and 1 hour in a boat. And no not a shuttle like you may have used to get to Martha's Vineyard. This is pretty much a big version of a canoe with a motor in the back. And after quickly crossing the Demerara River we then spend the next 55 minutes navigating in small little creeks. Did I mention this was done in the dark with just a flashlight? It was so cool.
I then arrived into the village and quickly set up my hammock and bug net(thanks again Massa!).
My Friday Night sleeping arraignments
Again it was so cool to be able to sleep outside in a hammock and feel totally safe and comfortable(the mosquitoes there weren't even noticeable compared to those in New Amsterdam).

I awoke the next morning, packed up my hammock and readied myself for the marathon.
Danny and Barry(another PCRV) before the start of the race

 The race director had been prepping all participants on what to expect and how challenging this would be. It must have scared off many of the marathon registrants because upwards of 50% of them switched to the half. so I lined up with about 30 other runners and quickly we were off.

I didn't really know what to expect so I settled into a comfortable pace but was soon in the lead. By kilometer 4, I was by myself. Or so I thought, within another 1/2 kilometer I could hear someone barreling down at me so I started to pick up the pace thinking that I could drop this person and then settle back into a more comfortable pace. During this time, I must have taken a left instead of a right and I quickly slowed thinking I am need to turn around. But the runner behind me confirmed that we were, in fact, going the right way so we continued on.
I never actually saw these little guys but I guess they were what was making the noise off the trail while running

Now at this point, the race stopped being a race so much as a tempo run for the two of us. We matched each other's surges easily and ran comfortably(ish) for the rest of the race. We marveled at the beauty of the course and how it was entirely shrouded in canopy(making it shaded and so much cooler). There were definitely a few hairy spots along the course with creek crossings but that just made the adventure all the more fun.
One of the creek crossings

Does Danny win an award? 
During this whole time, I kept on looking at the aid stations and my time and still questioning whether we hadn't missed a turn. It seemed like we were way ahead of schedule. Sure enough, at around 2:35 we crossed the finish line within 4 seconds of each other. The third runner came in third and he was a local Ameri-Indian who told us that all three of us did in fact take a wrong turn and missed about 9 kilometers of the race. I was tempted to head back out and do the last 9 kilometers just to actually finish it but decided against it/. It turns out, had I done that(and even if I walked it), I would have probably won as the next runner didn't come in until 4:30 ish. But I didn't, I just basked in the sun, cheered on participants and swam in the black water river. Such a fun day!
The boat ride home in the light
Swim time:)

I headed back into Georgetown for the night and the next morning decided since I had skipped almost 10k of my marathon to walk it. Well sort of. Part of the reason also had to do with that I had nothing to do until 11am. So I walked about 6 miles across Georgetown to Ogle Airport where I checked in for my flight to Kaieteur Falls.
My plane;)
 Kaieteur is the highest single drop waterfall in the world. That means that it drops without hitting anything for 700+ feet. Angle Falls in Venezuela drops further over a series of falls but not all at once. Frankly, while that was pretty impressive, what was more impressive was it's sheer isolation. After the first 15 minutes of the flight, I am not sure I saw a single road and only a few isolated villages along rivers. It was pretty spectacular. And the waterfall is so cool in its lack of commercialization.
It's so high I cannot capture it all in one photo. 

 No guard rails or lines of people. Just me and the others who flew on the small plane were there. Pretty cool.

So there is definitely a lot of cool. Less aid. Unless you wanna visit and volunteer. Then come and join us for a while:) Either way if you stay out of the cities, it'll be worth your while.
The race t-shirt alone made it all worth while:)

Until next time,


1 comment:

  1. Very witty, that last paragraph. Very nice pictures. I love the look of the road, and I think you missing part of the race shall always make a better story.