🇬🇾 Traveling with kids: Guyana

So…We landed Georgetown Guyana in 2019 and it’s so beautiful that we’re still here in 2020! wink

Kaieteur Falls. Take the 4-hour helicopter tour if you can!

Guyana is a beautiful and densely forested region fully named the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. It is often referred to as “South America’s best kept secret” and is very unique for many reasons. One, it’s the only Anglophone country in South America. Two, while it is South American by location, it is Caribbean by culture especially in the coastline communities. Three, CARICOM is headquartered here. Four, Christopher Columbus sighted Guyana in 1498, the Dutch settled colonies between 1616-1752 and the British took over in 1796 thus there exists a myriad of areas and people named after the Dutch, English, Africans and Amerindians.

The name Guyana is Amerindian and means “land of many waters”. Its three main rivers (Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara Rivers) flow out to the Atlantic Ocean. There are “three Guyana” territories: French Guiana, Dutch Guyana (now known as Suriname) and British Guyana (this one). In addition, Amapa in northern Brazil is deemed Brazilian/Portuguese Guyana and three states in Venezuela make up Spanish Guyana though these two are rarely mentioned.

View of the Atlantic from the Mangroves behind Victoria Village
View from the coastline in town directly by the Marriott. At high tide, GY is 7 inches below sea level. Hence the water is brown from sediment and silt.
One solitary dead catfish on the beach.

You might be wondering “What do people in Guyana look like”? The short answer is they come in all shapes, shades and sizes due to the intermingling of the indigenous Amerindians, British colonialists, Dutch colonialists, Chinese contractors executing government projects today and Africans and Indians enslaved and imported to till plantations. The dominant populations are the Indians (locally referred to as East Indians), Africans and Amerindians. Nigerian names are borne by many locals there! Recently there’s also been an influx of Venezuelans fleeing their sad economic crisis and Cubans who come shopping. The Guyanese accent is easier to understand than some of the Caribbean islands I’ve visited and they have some awfully good-looking people! Here’s our favorite ex-Prince hanging out in Guyana.

Harry and some Guyanese.

We landed at Cheddi Jagan International Airport after midnight and what a “cute” airport it is! I’ve NEVER seen such a teensy-weensy national airport in my life and it was recently expanded so this is the larger version. CJIA has been in the news for unsavory events and accidents including the January 5th 2020 death of a man Kodzo Ekpe just 4 days before our flight! (May he RIP)

I love the current Guyanese government for their vision and efforts to make Guyana the No. 1 spot in the world for ecotourism (which it is). We can only pray that the discovery of oil does not turn out to be a curse as it has been in many countries. Nigeria and neighboring Venezuela come to mind.

We had a 25-minute wait to get through Immigrations & then on to the two or three Baggage claim carousels for our bags. Customs was no hassle and we were soon exiting the doors and into the warm night. Did I mention Guyana is always hot? Well, it is. Pack your insect repellent, sunscreen and any hand fans if you plan to be out and about.

Right outside the doors, there are airport taxis and a throng of people waiting to pick-up friends/relatives. Make sure the taxi you pick has valid registration, better safe than sorry. There is a price list board on display in the lobby for everyone to see. The drive from airport to house in Eccles took about an hour and minus a few risky drivers on the one-lane roads, the roads felt safe. Here we are outside, breathing in the smog-free, fresh, healthy “green” and very humid Guyanese air!

Guyana reminds me of West Africa, especially Ghana. Weather, ambiance and many other factors. It’s like Nigeria used to be in the early years of the oil boom when the people were still honest, other sectors of the economy were booming and the government did their job. In Guyana, roads are great in some parts and potholed in others. Solar energy is huge as an alternative source of power and some areas are completely served by solar energy. However as solar energy wanes when there isn’t enough sun, wind energy is the current buzz. Water supply is in most places and the quality of the water varies. Two spots to visit in Georgetown, if you want to shop, eat or see a movie while feeling like a local, are Giftland Mall and Movie Towne. Both are very near each other on East Coast Demerara and registered taxis are always outside each mall, ready to give you a ride.

Water tanks to conserve water

For groceries, there are Massy Stores’, the Walmart of most Caribbean islands. Else, there are also many roadside kiosks and hawkers in Georgetown as well as local markets. Don’t let the dollar prices alarm you, it’s Guyanese dollars and exchange rate is approx 209 to one US dollar. 🤗

At the Massy in Eccles.

I had fun making seafood ochro soup with local shrimp and shark!

For many reasons, it’s easy to truly rest in Guyana. One, the heat and humidity. The climate is tropical thus in December-January, it is warm which makes it a wonderful escape from colder parts of the world. If you take even a few steps outside, weight loss is guaranteed! 😄 Two, if you’re a core city person there’s not so much to do. The charms of Guyana lie in its rural feel, beautiful scenery, amazing outdoor retreats, forest camping, waterfalls and nice citizens. We had a great time at the house in Windsor Estates. I and the kids even went old school and made paper leis, bracelets etc 😄. Guess who got a paper lei (garland)? 😄

Enjoying an Afro-Guyanese church service on TV!

Off the tourist routes, there is poverty, drug wars, the usual racism and biased competition between the races where the lighter skins keep winning. A handful of (East Indian) families are the main “players” in the economy and control major assets, markets, resources and systems of government. Overall to be safe, be nice, stay in safe areas and don’t go walking around “downtown” areas alone at late hours. Common sense right?

My next post will cover more touristy aspects of Guyana (GY) as well as our explorations including meeting the amazing Manatees at Queens Park. You HAVE TO SEE THAT! My most epic animal experience ever and they’re Huge!

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Have a friend from Nigeria who misses home? Send them these songs and popular choruses. They’ll love it!

SOURCES:

  • Local Guides from the Tourism Board
  • Taxi drivers and average Guyanese citizens.

PHOTO CREDITS:

My trusty iPhone

Hello Magazine (Prince Harry photo)

Telegraph.co.uk (Kaieteur Falls photo)