I wasn’t the only guest to have arrived in Georgetown. As well as the December rains, a stroll through the mall, second-hand radio broadcasts, and exaggerated television adverts reminded me that despite the near-constant 30-degree heat, Christmas was imminent.
The undoubted Scrooge of the family, I had done my best to avoid any Christmas festivities up to that point, but it seemed to have finally caught up with me.
In other news, the big story coming out of the capital was that a Burger King was set to open in the near future – the first one in the country.
The mosquitoes were more numerous, the heat slightly more stifling, the internet was intermittent, and the showers remained cold, but despite the Karanambu Lodge-esque living conditions it was wonderful to see Cassie and spend my time in her company. Her cats were as friendly as those I had left in the Rupununi, but the fluffiest of the two, Bearclaw, was a slightly too persistent alarm clock for my liking. Especially considering I was meant to be having some R&R.
Unfortunately, Liverpool lost their run of victories and rampant goalscoring form just as I was in a position to watch them play for the first time in a month. Held to a totally undeserved 1-1 draw by their Merseyside rivals Everton. Drinks were shared with some familiar faces that evening and soon the time came for me to head back to the savannah.
Unable to hitch a ride with Mel later that week, and needing to be back on site to cover Manny whilst he was on a training course, I booked a flight from the capital and made arrangements to be picked up at the airport in Lethem.
Courtesy of some mental maths at the time, I realised that I had almost spent my entire months wages on transport and two nights in a hotel in Boa Vista. My trip and stay in Brazil to get a new visa, my return flight from Lethem to Georgetown, the necessary taxis and coaches during this period, plus the lift from Lethem airport to Karanambu was 82% of my monthly paycheck.
And that is without any food or drink expenses.
As I flew over the Rupununi, fires were evident on the savannah as the dry grassland provided the perfect tinder and ranchers set about creating fire breaks on their property.
The ASL caravan touched down on the tarmacked runway of Lethem airport and I was greeted by my colleague, Roland. He had been there three hours already after being told the wrong time of the plane’s arrival.
The 100+ CC motorbike that he had arrived on was too small to carry multiple passengers as well as any sort of bulky luggage. I bid farewell to my rucksack, transferred over some essentials, and left my belongings with a friend of Mel’s in Lethem.
After shelling out most of my wages just to have a break from, and then subsequently return to, work, and saying goodbye to the large majority of my belongings until they could be picked up in five days’ time, my cheery disposition was to take another hit as I endured two hours of the most uncomfortable commute I have ever experienced.
The abysmal Guyanese roads provided a boneshaking ride, where my glasses jolted up and down so frequently that I often couldn’t focus on anything around me. The occasions where I was able to focus, the site that met my eyes was largely a cloud of red dust from oncoming or overtaking traffic. The heat from the exhaust forced me to position my legs in a non-too-comfortable manner, and the seating had all the padding of a table tennis racket. Open at an unnatural angle for 120-minutes, my legs and hips ached with cramp, the fierce sun burned the skin on my thighs, and low-hanging branches slapped me across the head as we raced past them. Pulled tightly against my body, my overburdened backpack strained my shoulders, the sweat dripped from every pore, and my throat was dry.
Despite this, as we clattered through the savannah, my iPod for company in one ear, I actually found myself smiling. Of course, it was a relief for the journey to come to an end, but what an experience it had been. What other commutes provide such sensations?
The majority of the dogs, chickens, and staff had gone home in my absence, and without guests on site, I found the Lodge to be calm and quiet.
I soon recovered the missed work from the previous week, and then went about preparing for the inspection we were to receive from the Guyana Tourism Authority.
It felt good to be back.
35 down. 49 to go.
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