People we meet along the way

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

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Flag of Guyana  ,
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In my brief time here in Guyana, I have run into a few characters and interesting situations.  Please allow me just a few lines to describe my encounters and those Guyanese whose paths have crossed with mine.
Due to my appearance, I stick out and occasionally catch the attention of passers by.  I attract the usual amount of people asking for money or food.  Most are relatively nice and good natured; I have been accompanied on walks and generally chatted up. 
My sticking out is augmented by the fact that I am often in very public places such as markets, businesses, hospitals, and busy streets with a group of ten or so interviewers with badges and clipboards (for the study).  I myself have a badge with my name and photo. 
A week ago I was in New Amsterdam, a town about three hours drive and 30 minutes ferry ride from Georgetown.  It was midday and I had just let the interviewers go off to do their work at a market (street with vendors).  A man approached me and asked what we were doing.  His response, when I told him about our survey, was an interesting fact.  I learned that "50% of all surveys done in this country are a waste of money."  It was followed by a ten minute rant on the greatest mind the West Indies had ever seen.  Thanks, buddy.
A more interesting encounter was in Linden-a bauxite mining town about 80 miles into the "interior."  Bauxite is one of the main exports in Guyana, but this town has been in economic decline since the 70's.  The mining company has changed ownership numerous times and in the process the thousands of local jobs have turned into hundreds-barely.  Some of the nice side effect of the mine and Bauxite processing is an ever-present thin layer of dust everywhere.  After a week or so the layer is not so thick. 
Back to my story:  I was sitting in the front seat of the rented mini-bus providing us transportation.  A barefoot woman caught sight of me and approached.  I judged quickly and assumed she was going to ask for money.  She asked what we were doing and then said she had some things to say. "We need a lot of things here in Guyana," she began, "we need clothes and food and bookses" (yes, bookses).  "Will you tell that to them when you go back?" "Yes," I responded.  "Thanks," she said and continued on her way.  I felt the least I could do was to let you all know.
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