Sometimes things don’t go as planned and Zippy has to take a ride on a bus, in this case a mini-van packed sardine-like with 12 passengers, on a dirt road across Guyana. It’s always a mini-adventure traveling the way the locals travel. All South Americans seem to like their pop music, and because they like it so much, they play the same top hits over and over again, at speaker-buzzing volumes. I once liked Latin music; no more.
Georgetown/Letham Road and pop music Mini van being destroyed by potholes; 18 hours of this teaches patience and tolerance, or at least it should.
Jungle Hammock Sounds of the night in mid Guyana
Travel With The Locals
The cramped ride was for 18 hours, but we did have about five hours in the middle to have a nap stretched out in the hammocks we brought from the Amazon barco (boat) portion of this trip. A nice tropical rain made for a deep sleep, and it was back on the road again.
Georgetown, Guyana Market
Not Your Vision of the Caribbean
Encounters in Georgetown, Guyana
Strong Gun Control Laws, Violence Rampant with Cutlass (Machete)
Guyana is one of those countries on the cusp of some difficult decisions. It’s still mostly third-world rapidly being dragged toward a developing-world role by(mostly) China’s thirst for natural resources. What they will do with increasing wealth will determine what kind of life Guyanese can expect. As we have heard in Peru and Brazil, internal corruption is the biggest threat they face. We were told the maintenance on the Georgetown/Lethem Road was contracted out, and most of the money went into the pockets of government officials and the fixed bid winner, and little goes into the road, at a cost of millions in lost efficiency of travel on the only north south road, and repairs to vehicles.
The pattern is reportedly being repeated in contracts for China mining Guyana’s resources. If they are to become a true developing-world country, they will need to develop value added manufacturing and exporting. Now China (and others) buy natural resources and little else. Perhaps this is due to corruption, or a lack of middle-class education necessary for the development of an entrepreneurial class. Now Guyana is a divided country: we often saw expensive automobiles parked beside crumbling park benches, the beds of the many homeless. The lack of a middle class, and the conditions that produce a middle class, will doom any country to the dustbin of economic history. We currently have a shrinking middle-class in America.
Guyana is not a tourist destination for most of us. If you have thousands to spend per week at a fly-in high end resort in the jungle, I’m sure it would be wonderful, as large tracts have been preserved for the few. One interesting development is that Guyana is selling carbon credits based on it’s thousands of square miles of jungle. It’s sort of like an export not requiring capital; earning money by letting things alone. Where is the money going? Hopefully into education, and developing manufacturing and infrastructure. We didn’t see evidence of that. It’s a good bet that when China develops a taste for tropical hardwoods, the jungle will be for sale, by the powerful corrupt.
America’s lack of corruption is rare in this world. It’s one of the things a strong middle class doesn’t tolerate. We have much to be thankful for, but I’m afraid Americans are more prone to complaining than thanksgiving.
More on corruption in South America in a future post: If you have an accident in America, are you afraid to call the police?