Return to Guyana

Trip Start Feb 27, 2006
Trip End Apr 08, 2006

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Flag of Guyana  ,
Sunday, January 21, 2007

It took about a year, but I finally made it back. Guyana, here I come. This time I decided to take a direct flight from New York-the only direct flight from anywhere in the US to Georgetown, Guyana. We left about 30 minutes late, which would make it about 2:00 am, Eastern Standard Time; yes folks that's two in the morning. I figured it would be something like a redeye, arriving around 8:00 am into Guyana, (which is one hour ahead of New York). Redeye was right, except there wasn't much sleeping going on. About 45 minutes into the flight I was awakened by every single light on the plane and an announcement over the loudspeaker "your choice for dinner tonight will be curry chicken or shrimp pasta..." I hoped to sleep out this 4:00 am dinner, but despite my earplugs, blanket, and shallow slumber, the flight attendants prodded me "chicken or shrimp dinner?" As much as I love airplane seafood, I went with the natural early morning choice-curry. Luckily we arrived on Sunday, so I had a day to relax and adjust.

For those of you who don't know why I am here in the Caribbean, I mean South America, I will let you know. First a little recap on Guyana. Guyana was formerly a British colony-a sugar cane colony and is well known in the UK for Demerara sugar (Demerara is the main river). Those of us in the US probably remember it for Jim Jones-the leader of the cult which committed mass suicide in their Guyanese jungle compound. While geographically part of South America, it is culturally Caribbean and the only English speaking country in the whole continent. In the 1960s, when British Guiana gained independence, they changed their name to Guyana-which in the native Amerindian tongue means "land of many waters." As many waters as Guyana has, it is not the picturesque Caribbean island you might be thinking of. The ocean is there, but it is quite brown due the mouth of the Demerara. Instead of a beach, they have the seawall. Georgetown, not unlike New Orleans, is below sea level, and is frequented by floods.

Now....back to why I am here. I am conducting a nationwide study on blood donation behavior. It is called a KAP study, which stands for Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices. I am leading a team of Guyanese (or are they leading me?) to the four most populated cities/towns around the country. We are interviewing people to find out their knowledge, opinions and practices regard blood donation. So far we are off to a great start and I believe this will be a great success and very informative for all parties involved.

Now I will leave you with two fun clips: I went to a CD and DVD store the other day. I don't mean the kind on the side of the street where the goods can be picked up and moved should the police come by-this was a real store with a door, cashier, the works. Their selection was impressive...hundreds of movies and CDs, but the most interesting part was that every single item, despite its case and well printed insert, was pirated. Take that copyright protection!

Friday night some of the KAP interview team members invited me out. I was thrilled, as I only know so many people in the country and while my knowledge of local hot spots is great, I wouldn't want to go alone. Around 12:30 a few of us were getting tired, so we decided to leave one of the biggest entertainment centers, Buddy's, and go home. Buddy's is a four story building with a dance club on the first floor, a billiards club on the second, a bar on the third and a restaurant on the top floor. I spoke with some of the people who stayed at the club. It was a good thing I left, because around 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning they closed the club down. It seems somebody was drunk and fired a shot in the air. Nobody was hurt, and I was fast asleep by then. But don't worry anybody, I was wearing my bullet proof T-shirt. Seriously though, I haven't felt threatened or in any danger. There is no reason to worry.

Until next time!
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