Thursday, March 18, 2010

The One-Dimensional City

Blogging live from Guyana! Because if I don't write this stuff down now, I'm going to forget it by the time I get back and have reliable Internet access.

So the first thing I noticed about driving in Guyana is that they drive on the left side of the road here. I guess that makes sense; it was originally a British colony after all, but it's still unsettling to see. With the caveat that my experience is all secondhand, from the passenger seats in taxis, driving in Guyana doesn't seem as awful as someplace like India. There are still pedestrians walking in the street randomly, as well as feral dogs [1], and cows and donkeys in the rural areas. But it's certainly not as crowded as the city streets in New Delhi, and the roads are actually pretty good here. As good as the roads in Houston, at least, which definitely surprised me.

The last taxi ride we took (from a Chinese restaurant back to the hotel) cost us $300, but that's not so bad when you consider that the exchange rate from Guyanese dollars to US dollars is 200:1. It turns out that Chinese food is big in Guyana - probably even more so than Indian food. Considering the number of Indians that live here, this is actually pretty surprising.

But anyway, the reason I'm talking about roads is the Big Road. I'm calling it that, because I can't find an official name for it. Between Georgetown and Skeldon, there's one long highway that runs across half of Guyana's coastline. It's just your basic two lane highway, except that there are houses and offices and basically all sorts of buildings running along it uninterrupted the whole way down. Aside from a few empty lots, or a few acres of farmland here and there, it's one long unbroken urban area. In most places, the development only goes back a few lots, so you end up with an urban area that's several dozen miles long and a few hundred feet wide. It's like an entire city was stretched out along a single road. Somewhat arbitrarily, it's divided into villages; I think the divisions might even be on mile markers. If I recall correctly, the villages are numbered one to sixty-something, going from West to East.

All of this was necessary for the next bit to make sense: we visited the house where my mom grew up, in 43. Really, the official name is Village #43, but everybody just calls them by their numbers. (We also visited the school she used to go to - that was neat, if a little embarrassing. She even ended up making a speech. D:) It's kind of amusing/amazing how many people know our family. We joke about how everybody in Guyana knows everybody else, but only because there's a grain of truth to it. Example: at the hotel we stayed at the other night, the owner heard that my uncle's last name was S_____. He asked, "Not the S_____'s from 43?" Similar scenes have happened several times, believe it or not. It's really cool and at the same time a bit disturbing.

Anyway, speaking of my uncle, this is his laptop, so this is all I can write for now. The next post is going to be about waterfalls, and if I'm late enough writing it, it may contain videos.

[1] Feral puppies: just as adorable as tame puppies. (From a distance, of course.)


Kiriska said...

I want feral puppy pictures. ;;

Also, that's pretty cool about seeing the place your mom grew up and stuff. :o We kinda did that with the place where I spent the first three years of my life when we went to China a few years back, but you don't get that kind of recognition there just because there are a billion people or something. :D

Frank Church said...

Driving in Guyana? Well, since it's not as populous as India, that probably helps. Speech! Speech! Speech! Also, I've noticed your family is pretty big, and Guyana is pretty small, so I guess that's why they're always recognized.

Pics or it didn't happen.

P. Static said...

Pics are forthcoming! Maybe not of feral puppies, though, unless we happen to see some Monday. >_>