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GUYANA    INFO & DIARY  1

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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
The Co-operative Republic of Guyana, also known as British Guyana or simply Guyana is an unitary presidential republic in the north of South America. It is bordered by Venezuela (who does not recognise it), Suriname, Brazil and the North Atlantic Sea. It covers 214.970 square kilometres, and is the home of 735.909 citizens. As a former British colonial, the habitants are a mix from others. 57% are Christians, 28% Hindi and 7% Muslim.
The currency is Guyanese dollar, worse 0,03 Danish Krone and €0,0042. The GDP is US$3.456 billion.
The climate is Equatorial in the northern half, a few central areas are Monsoon while the southern half is Tropical savannah. I will mainly be travelling in the Equatorial and Monsoon areas. Where the temperature is quite stabile, the rainy seasons are May to August and again November to January.
Guyana have quite some different habitats with both coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savanna, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane, cloud forest, moist lowland and dry evergreen scrub forests.
Due to the lack of roads, I will mainly be exploring the northern, costal areas and a narrow stretch south. But; the inland native and relatively undisturbed forests does hold a lot of interesting animals and plants.
I would love to see the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), some of the armadillos like Greater long-nosed armadillo (Dasypus kappleri), the Southern naked-tailed armadillo (Cabassous unicinctus) and Giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), some of the sloths like Pale-throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus tridactylus), Linnaeus's two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) and Southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla). Here are quite some primates like Red-handed tamarin (Saguinus midas), Tufted capuchin (Cebus apella), Weeper capuchin (Cebus olivaceus), Common squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), White-faced saki (Pithecia pithecia), Red-backed bearded saki (Chiropotes chiropotes) and Red-faced spider monkey (Ateles paniscus). Here are Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis), Red-rumped agouti (Dasyprocta leporina), Red acouchi (Myoprocta acouchy), Lowland paca (Cuniculus paca) and a lot of bats!
Among the larger predators are Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), Margay (Leopardus wiedii), Cougar (Puma concolor), Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), Jaguar (Panthera onca). To name a few dogs; Crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), Bush dog (Speothos venaticus), Crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), South American coati (Nasua nasua), Kinkajou (Potos flavus) and Striped hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus semistriatus). I doubt I see it, but here are some Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris), where I might catch a glimpse of one of the many opossums.
Just like the fauna, the flora is real rich. Approximately 80% of the land is covered by tropical rainforest of which most is still intact. Realising I will have a real hard time finding anything, I have not made a lost of plants I will be looking for - although I would love to see the Queen Victoria's water lily (Victoria amazonica) in the wild.

DIARY
23. I get a real early flight from Bogotá to Panama, then further on to Georgetown, landing at noon. I'm actually only in transit today, heading on to Suriname in the morning - if things work as I planed. The ATM will only payout small amounts, but charge me both here and in Denmark.

The booked hotel is in Georgetown, and despite the airport is called the same, it s a 40 kilometre drive. It is two before I get through immigration, and I would like to arrange transport in the morning to Skeldon and the Suriname ferry - and get some sleep! So, a 5.000 taxi it is. Omar is the friendly driver, and we spend quite some time figuring out the hotel is NOT on the Charlotte Street 210 we are, but the one 500 metres away: Same address, it seems???

When we finally get there, they claim they don't have a room for me, despite I have the confirmation from Booking.com. They don't work with Booking.com, they say. On top of that, the receptionist claim she don't talk English - in an former English colony - and of cause she do. AND, the neighbour is laying screaming, waiting for an ambulance. Some say she have been shoot.

I mention to Omar, I'm heading for Suriname in the morning, and he tell me; the ferry across the narrow river only sail once a day; in the morning at nine, but you have be bee there hours before. And it is a 180 kilometre drive - sounds like real early up! And with no hotel here, why not go now! Omar is fresh! We get from US$150 to 125, and I think that is fair enough, comparing to the fixed airport fair.

We drive through the rather nice Georgetown and out in the countryside. Here is lush and green, coconut plantations and grassing cattle along with fishing villages, and mere horse carriages than I had expected. The houses are mainly wood, some nicer than others! Many are on tall stilts, but the heat and the few metres above sea-level make is a good choice.
We reach Skeldon at seven, in the pitch dark. Omar drive me all the way to the ferry, 10 kilometres on the other side of town, and check the times. Here, the boys say I have to be here at six for the only ferry at nine! Actually, it is at ten, but usually one hour delayed.

Back in Skeldon, we try both ATMs (country's second largest town!), but both refuses to play with me. That make a great dent in my emergency dollars! Then Omar find a nice - and expensive hotel, which offers food and bus for the ferry in the morning. I am running out of money, and eventually, I have to make it back to Georgetown as well!

The supper turn out to be a dish of French fries with ketchup - I hope the bus in the morning works better! At present, I don't really feel Guyana works as well for me, as I had expected from a former British colony. I even have a hard time understanding those speaking English! I doubt the Dutch and French colonies will be easier!

I get a room fare away from the loud music in the bar - and right next to the neighbour, playing even louder until four. I forget to buy water, and when I wake up, real dizzy, the bar have closed, and I'm locked in. Photos of the day: The drive to the Suriname border

24. I'm up at six, and the bus should be here at half pass six. I find a way out of the hotel, and start waiting - and waiting. Then it turns out, the automatically time-zone on both computer and iPhone have placed me in Suriname, and I was up at five!
Just at dawn, a heavy shower hit the town. The cleaning man arrivals, and I get some boiled water for my serials and tea - and the spirit raises. But, I still don't know how the visa for Suriname will work out. Neither embassy, consulate and foreign ministry have answered my emails. And how do I get cash? It might be, the ATM her around does not work with my state of the art plastic cards. And then what???

I finally make it to the Surname ferry, but they won't let me out of the country without a Suriname Guest Card - which I have to return to Georgetown to get at their embassy. Bit of a bummer, but I know this was the weak link in my entire winter planning (no info on the internet, no reply from embassy and ministry). Some of the locals organises a car to bring me back to Georgetown, find a hotel and drive me to the ferry of tomorrow. And yes, it was NOT for free, but I share the minibus with several others. I get a chat with several of them, and it is real nice people, who try to help anyway they can.

We reach Georgetown at two, and the driver (Piggy) pay the security officer to let me in and call me a cap when I got my Tourist Card. I had heard it was US25, but it is 35. At least, I get it within one hour, but they have no change to my $40. I get some local dollars changed into US at the nearby international school. That feel stupid!

Then by taxi to the hotel the busdriver recommended - which courses a bit of a challenge, as it is not Paul's at George Street, but P&A's in Church Street. Thanks to a persistent Rasta-taxi, I finally get there, and at least, they have room! It is not the nice part of town - I think, then again?

I head out to get some local dollars, just in case. The Scottiabank have modern ATMs that accept my Visa card - and I manages to find one! On the way, I pass a Vegetarian restaurant - and it have open! Things are starting to work out for me. I just wished my personal drivers would stop warning me about walking around. But people seems to be nice, and as I'm the only pale around, everyone know where I am. The town is a bit scruffy, but is sure have some charm too.

I buy a cake and a vege-burger for later, and start walking around the area. It seems like everyone working and shopping here are Rasta - but they are Vegetarians, right? It is quite central, and I passes the cathedral again. My hotel is right down to a channel, and it is almost clean! I find the local marked with vegetables, clothing, fish and butchers. The fruit stands are outside along the channel along with those selling colourful plastic stuff. I find a café selling tea with milk.

I head home to the cosy hotel, which is located in a big, old wooden building, like most of the town. I start working, as I have to get up at 3;45 in the morning to make it to the ferry. I have written the hotel I had this night in Suriname and the car-company about me being a day delayed, and at least the hotel take it nice.
Then I have a long chat with an Ausy who just returned from Suriname, and we exchange information.

25. Get up before four to get a cold shower and wait a hour for the minibus. We still make it in time for the Guyana immigration and alike, involving seven officers. At least, I am not asked to drop the pans like the guy in front of me. Then there are still 90 minutes to the ferry are supposed to leave. Here are a waiting room, but it does remind me of the visitor rooms from American prison movies. But; they do sell nice tea with milk, and everyone is so friendly.

Piggy, my driver sell me a ticket to Paramaribo, and make sure one of the other passengers take care of me. A bunch of locals change money - and make a great living, I guess. I change a bit, hoping it will last till I find an ATM that accept my card.

From here, the diary and tour make a loop through Suriname and French Guiana

9/2. I get back from Suriname and French Guiana with the morning (and only one) ferry, and immigration is slowly but problem free. I find my driver; Piggy, and after a short while, we are five in his car, and head off.
Now, I can compare this part of Guyana with Suriname and Guiana, and the differences are big. Here are way more people, here are pigs, goats, sheep, horses, cows and donkeys. Here are active farming and way more activity in the towns - which are here in abundance. The houses, on the other hand, are just as crappy and charming.

Piggy drop me of at my hotel in Georgetown at two, and I head straight out to the vegetarian restaurant, around the corner. Then it is back to figure out exactly which days I will have this hotel as base.
It is still early in the afternoon, and I do a walk down-town to see the town, and find cash. Here are way more lively than the two other guyanas: More cars, more people, more shopping and just more! While most houses are old, here are quite some modern in-between.

A lot of the trade is done on the street. Several large fruit and vegetable markets, tiny stands and large shops under parasols outside the traditional shops. It is hard to tell what specific is they are trading in. Combs, extension core, shampoo, shoos - everything goes, I guess.

I pass what most of all look like a castle from a Disney movie. I think it is the former municipal palace - or it could be the present? I end up at a really active square, and right behind it is the huge Stabroek Market. I get to it, as it is closing down, but it might be worth returning to.

On the way back at dusk, I find an ATM that accept my card, and then the vegetarian restaurant - again. It feel a bit stupid fumbling around after vegetarian meals, as long as I haven't worked my way through their courses.
I return to work at the balcony to the sound of frogs in the canal and crickets in the bushes. Well, until the neighbour start his reggae. Not that the frogs are intimidated, I just can't hear them.

While I was walking through town, I heard and saw some Amazon parrots, but getting a photo is a completely other matter. I watched some yesterday in Suriname, on the house next door, but the mosquito net was in the way. They were in the Palmpark, but way up. I also see them in small cages all the time - a real pity for such a intelligent animal!

As I didn't get much sleep yesterday, and I intend to get an early start, the evening get short, and I skip waiting for the daughter to return home, and give me a new code for the internet.  Day 2: Georgetown

10. I'm up early, but the heavy rain make me stay in, making corrections on my former diaries. I should get my car at twelve at the airport (or somewhere else), but I try to get it before, and make the drive east towards Suriname.
I get a taxi at ten, and pay the 5.000$ for the ride to the airport. My agent; Expedia have not told me where I get the car, and they have not answered my email. But accordantly to Europcar's internet site, they have a meeting point at the airport - which make sense.

Unfortunately, only other companies have it. One have a real great young man, who do his best to help me. He try the number Expedia have given me, but it is out of service. He find another on the internet, and they will deliver the car at my hotel, back in Georgetown.

5.000$ more to get home. I get time for dinner, and discover the ground floor under the hotel is not only a restaurant; they have a rather large salad bar. Back at the hotel - I have checked out of - the phone rings, and it is for me. Europcar have no records of me booking a car, but they can offer me one considerable cheaper. I can't complain about that - except to Expedia.

Then they find my booking in their computer trashcan, and I have to cancel that, before they can give me the low price. Fair enough, but Expedia's internet site is not made for cancellations this late. I write them a email, knowing they will bill me US$500 anyway.

Then it turns out I have to get a Guyanan driving permit - at the bloody airport! Without that, it will cost me quite a lot in fines, to pass the control posts I know are along the road. And without it, I can't really use the car in the weekend, as the permit-office is closed till Monday. The hotel lady take it real nice, I get all the calls.

New plan: Stay at Georgetown and see whatever here is, and then go to the eastern and southern parts next week - missing a day. I email copies of passport, Danish driving license and just in case; my international driving license. Phones rings again - despite the Europcar office is closed. It turns out I might use my international driving license - depending on wherever Denmark is on some list. In that case, I can get the car in the morning.
Considering how much work I have put into planning this tour, it work real bad!

The rain is on and off, but at one o'clock, I walk out into the city. Somehow, I end a bit further down the street at a place selling cake and tea. But then; I start walking. Considering it have only rained on and off since this morning, the town is pretty flooded. The canals are filled to the top, the roads and sidewalks flooded in many places. I don't dear thinking about how the rainy season will be: Three months of constant rain!

While a jump around the sidewalks, I see some animals. One is the The tricolored heron; Egretta tricolor, with a surprisingly blue beak. Some huge snails, looking like Mystery snails; Pomacea bridgesii are using their new territories in the canals. A mall toad is swimming, while the tiny fish, looking like Guppys; Poecilia reticulata are found in most canals - except the really polluted ones. 

One of my few planned sights within the city is the Promenade Park, just around the corner. It is a pretty well maintained park, slightly flooded and with some stray dogs and homeless people. From outside, I spot what look like an invasive small Asian mongoose; Herpestes javanicus. Within the park, there are many different birds from hummingbirds to a group of Chestnut-fronted macaw; Ara severus. I know I can't get pictures, but I have to try with the macaws.

The botanical garden must wait till the sun comes around, and then I only have the Stabroek Market left on the list. But, on the bright side: It is fitted for the rain, and it is actually open this Saturday afternoon. Here are actually a lot of activity, especially outside.

In the back, it is extended by a huge boardwalk, fitted with a hall. In the back this, there are a view to the rather polluted harbour and some boat taxis or busses. I get a lot of response to my rather pity moustache, but only positive. It is a great ice-breaker, but here, I don't have any requests for selfies as in the Arab countries I travelled through.

I see the rest of the market, but here are not really anything interesting: It is so common. No bush-meat, no homemade items. Of cause, here are small mounts of bananas, un-cooled butchers, foreign fruits and vegetables (which I have seen numerous times by now) and wig-shops. And tattoo on the sidewalk, no shop at all.

While I drown to the airport - and back - and again now, when I walk the central part of the city, I see a lot of long horse carriages. They are used for any kind of transport. One is dumping used building materials on a lot in the centre of town. I think all the loose horses found everywhere without any for of grime, are these pulling horses.

I pass the big church, and the entire lot is flooded. Nearby, hens are roaming around and some are sold at the central market. The central part of the city is also home for the parliament; a real nice looking building.
It darkens again, and I find a restaurant, serving tea. Despite I spend quite some time sipping this huge mug, it keep raining, and I end up using my umbrella.

I have seen the entire centre by now, the light is gone and it rains. I might as well head home. Some boys is fishing in the canal, and they actually catch something. It look actually like Piranhas, but is might be something else. They are on the other side of the canal, and I didn't think about it at that time.

At home, I got a message: Call this number. It is Kenneth from Europcars: I might get away with my international driving license: It depend on which country that have issued it - he will check. If it is OK, I can get the car in the morning. That would be great, as I doubt I can spend a Sunday, visiting the botanical garden, and I kind of miss a day. Or actually; more. The daughter have been on a tour down south, and the road is bad, especially after rain. I had thought it was sealed, and didn't think much of the 500 kilometres - each way, but is it is a bad dirt-road, it take time, especially after the recent days rain!
 Day 4: Idle in Georgetown    Then it is time for a new Diary 2.

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