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Funky Georgetown

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On our trip to Guyana, I had experienced some of the humor and joie de vive of the people. When I photographed these guys carrying a 100-lb forest log, they put it down and ran up to me saying, "NO PHOTOS! YOU HAVE TO PAY US!" which mortified me practically into a fetal position until they cracked up laughing, picked up the log and went on their way, waving.
In Georgetown, these girls gave me a solid gold performance, gyrating and undulating with unmistakable Afro-Caribbean verve. So cute.
I had marveled at how Guyanans accomplish so much with so very little. Every book in the open-air schools we visited was mottled with mildew. The humid climate is a cruel overlord. I would be unable to draw with pencil or paint in watercolors here. My drawings and paintings would curl, get moldy and succumb to fungus within weeks. I guess I'd paint in acrylics. I can't imagine painting with anything but watercolor, but then I don't have to. I feel blessed to live where the climate doesn't actively ruin many of the things I hold dear. I will overlook for the moment the frost threat that constantly hangs over my heirloom lilac and peach tree. 

And yet, along the seawall in G'town, there was art that stretched for miles.
As we whizzed by, I wished I could walk for hours, appreciating each panel.
A favorite:
Even our bush planes had depictions of giant otters and harpy eagles:

The advertising art on the seawall (the only thing that keeps Georgetown from being under five feet of ocean) was a thing unto itself. I loved it.
Because the population is largely Afro-Caribbean, there is a lot of attention to hair products:
I definitely could have used some root stimulator. My hair looked like a road-killed squirrel the whole trip. Today it looks like Chachi's from Joanie Loves Chachi. Cool.

On our TV at the grandiose Hotel Pegasus, which looked like a salt shaker, there was a guy selling a device you mount on your bathroom wall that actually dispenses toothpaste.
But wait, there's more. It also gives you a place to hang your toothbrushes. Which, he pointed out many times, is very healthy. The infomercial dude put a heavy health/hygiene spin on this gizmo. Basically you insert your tube of toothpaste, press a button and Presto! you get toothpaste on your toothbrush. It's got to be much easier than squeezing a tube and losing the cap every time. At least that was what he said.
After being in the back country for ten days, it was a hilariously refreshing way to spend ten minutes, watching an infomercial for something nobody wants because nobody needs, like Zizzer-zoof seeds.The view out our window. It was air-conditioned, and it felt heavenly, but not as heavenly as a hot shower in a cool room. Ahhhhh. The grime of ten days of cold showers fell away.

Erica and I wandered into a variety store that sold everything from bras to furniture. I loooved this set.
It was tropicalismo, way over the top. Elvis would have grabbed this for the Jungle Room. Our furniture is so drab by comparison, so tastefully lacking in texture and flair.

And then there's Smalta. We don't know what it is, but we should drink it. Why? Because it's good.
In case you think the thing under the Smalta swoosh will reveal the mystery, it doesn't. It's a sheaf of wheat. Which leads me to believe Smalta might be a kind of beer. Mmmm, good.

The mystery deepened with this ad for Cheekies. For Happy Cheeks.
I have got to think this is some kind of didey. But I don't know. Maybe there's a climate-related cheek issue in Guyana I know nothing about.

It kind of figures that the best bird pictures I'd take on the whole trip (unless you take into consideration the rarity of the bird, which favorably weights a lousy picture) were at our hotel in Georgetown. A roadside hawk (Buteo magnirostris) was hanging out in the courtyard, waiting for something. This little buteo lives almost everywhere, hanging out along roads and rivers, waiting for snakes, lizards, rodents, insects, whatever it can find and swoop down upon. It was a lovely farewell gift, to spend time with this little hawk, shooting him off a hotel balcony, in a place with adequate light. That's saying something when you've been trying to make photos in the darkest durn forest you've ever seen for ten days.You got a problem with my forest?

Too soon, we'd fly  home. But I was ready, I was ready to see my babies and my husband and my Charlie Miko and my no-good google-eyed licky licky dog.


I love how this starts: The men rushing up and saying you can't take pictures, only to laugh and smile and wave to let you know they were joking. How delightful! (Mind you, I laughed as much at the humor as I did the image of you curled in a fetal position scared for your life.)

These photos are marvelous. What a great trip this must have been, and what a colorful place--literally and figuratively.

Then to finish it off with a beautiful hawk right outside your hotel... Ah, icing on the cake.

I was about to say *exactly* what Jason said. Good thing... I'm too tired to write much :o)

I've enjoyed all of your stories and photos of Guyana, but the hawk looking into your eyes is awesome!

That was quite a trip. Lisa (Greenbow) tipped me off about this post and the graffiti images because graffiti is one of my interests. These are delightful.

It's been a pleasure to be able to visit Guyana with you Julie.

Julie, I never comment (but I think I have to start) by telling you that your column starts me off each day. I just love reading of your advetures and seeing the wild beasties from afar. Please know I think you are amazing. Much Love, Jane

Pieganjane, I am a puddle of happy tears. BFF, no matter what. Call me sometime, silly girl!

I love how you love everything you see, and share the love with us.

Smalta is a non-fermented, malt beverage that is non-alcoholic and from personal experience it's an acquired taste.

I love the Guyana posts Julie!

What a cool post, but I feel like I'm experiencing some déjà vu with a lot of the photos, especially the graffiti wall, the hair products billboard and the Cheekies billboard - did BOTB post some similar pics some time ago? Not complain', mind you, just a'wonderin'... Thanks, as always, for sharing your experiences with us!

Julie, I have so enjoyed all these wonderful posts. They should live on, and be seen by lots of people. Wonderful! Thank you.

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