Guyanese Hospitality- The Best in the World?

Boy did the shit hit the fan!

Once I’d left my little dream party island I got a huge reality check as a ‘Welcome back to solo travelling’.

I already told you about Erick, and as much as I knew it was a stupid thing to do (after), it still wasn’t the worst thing to happen. I think I like leaving myself in ridiculously precarious predicaments somehow. I flew from Panama to Guyana, South America to meet up with some friends I hadn’t seen since my last visit a few years before and nearly didn’t even clear immigration- I had $10US in my pocket and that was it. With a bit of tactful bending of the truth I’m granted my 30day visitors visa but even the immigration officer was sceptical and told me to watch myself and be careful.

I thought she meant me!

I’d already been helping a ‘friend’ of mine out there. She was struggling to get by herself so I’d been sending her some money to help out, just little bits here and there, but the exchange rate meant she was getting a better deal. I even helped her to sort out an apartment to live in because I was meant to be staying there once I’d finished travelling Central America. Only when I finally land in GT (Georgetown) there’s no apartment. She told me something about the floors being finished, only a few days and we’re ready to move in. So I’m now in a new country with no way of supporting myself (yet) and have nowhere to stay for my first few nights- I’m sure I can rough it, at least it’s warm here.

The first night I’m sleeping on a friend of a friends floor but that’s only for the one night she explains. So the next day I’m committed to sorting my situation out, not that it got me very far- luckily I remembered Couchsurfing. I send a message to one guy on the site, Mark, explaining my situation and ask to stay for a few days while the apartment is finished and he was so quick with a response. He told me that he wasn’t even in Guyana until my last night at his but I was welcome to stay at his place for the time specified if I saw his neighbour for the key. What a legend! He was a great guy as well, well kept place, lots of certificates on the wall for commendations and community work, things like that.

With accomodation sorted I needed to move onto the next phase: money. This was going to prove to be a little more difficult because now I’d gone off to this apartment I was cut off. No local phone, no internet, it was a little way out of town and too far to walk in the heat so I’m left to my own devices for a couple days trying to figure out everything at once.

Adapting to a new country, climate, culture, diet, dialect, it was a bit much for me all on my own- but this was the experience!

A different friend of mine had been asking a few people already about some work for me and had lined up some work at a carwash. By the time we got in contact with each other a few days later he told me I started yesterday- I started the next day at least and was getting cash in my pocket each night to buy food and water, plus I was being fed lunch at work by the owners family. From my apartment in the town called Better Hope it was a 40minute walk to work along a fairly straightforward route, although it was more like trying to walk along a motorway, especially at night!

Now carwashing may be simple enough, but doing it for 10-11hrs a day when you’re not acclimatised to a country really takes it out of you and even being given simple instructions can get hard when you don’t understand the person talking to you at first. I at least learned a little about Guyanese life already- it’s hard! Within 2 days I was so badly sunburnt the skin on my feet had swollen, turned purple and blistered. Not that I let that stop me from carrying on; resting meant starving and I wasn’t gonna let myself do that.

After working at the car wash for a few days my time at the apartment in Better Hope had run out so I chase up my friend about the apartment yet again. Only this time she’s acting funny and gives me some more excuses about the bathroom and lighting. I push a little harder and start to get attitude instead- I tell her just to get my money back and I’ll sort myself out somehow. This is when I found out she’d already spent my money and there was no apartment.

I’m back to square one. 

Talking about my situation again at work proved to be quite helpful though, the boss and one of the kids I worked with, Ryan, had gotten involved and were trying to find a place for me. By the end of the night I still had no definite answer and was feeling pretty lost again, the boss offered me a ride back to the apartment to pack my things up at least. While I was there I got a phone call from Ryan and he told me to come to his place. The boss drives me there and I get to meet with Ryans family. Potentially, they’re going to let me stay by them until I can get myself sorted.

I explain everything to them, in detail, and was so grateful they agreed to let me stay. I need to share a room with Ryan but that was hardly a problem- I’d already spent the last few weeks in and out of different dorm rooms and backpackers with different people, plus sharing a room with 1 person was much better than being left with absolutely nothing. I try to offer them a little of the money I have but they politely decline it and say we’ll sort something out when I’m in a better position.

It’s taken just over a full week of quite literally living on the kindness of strangers but I finally have a home, and for now… it’s free.

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