Written 21 January 2012 10:26AM, between Guyana & Suriname
I am on the ferry between Guyana & Suriname, a kind of no-man’s land where departure stamps have already been stamped but arrival stamps are yet to come. What happens if we sink in the middle?
So far the trip has been going well. [My high school friend] Toby & I seem to travel well together. We stayed in Wed night because Toby’s stomach was upset & we couldn’t figure out how we’d get a taxi from Kitty into town after dark, and Thursday we had an invitation to go out with [our couchsurfing host] Navin but we’d both gotten sunburned and Toby was tired and had giant blisters on the bottoms of her feet so didn’t feel up to it. But last night Navin invited us out for a beer with his American friend and we both felt up to it so went to a little hotel bistro/bar ([called] something like “176”) and had a Bank beer and Bank Shanty (0.9% alc. vol. and calls itself ‘champagne’ though it’s really watered-down beer with syrup). Navin’s friend was military working for the embassy doing development work which sounds really cool but I wouldn’t want to join the army. He had typical army-type personality so we didn’t really engage in philosophical discussion but had a nice evening, and still got home early enough to pack everything up and get to sleep a few hours before our 4 AM wake-up call for the bus to this ferry.
It ended up being not a bus at all but a taxi (3000 GYD or $15 US) which was more comfortable and he stopped a few towns before the ferry to let us change money at a better rate (7200 GYD=110 SRD… 36 USD=37 USD!) and bought us plantain chips on the way. He then left his nephew, who was crossing too, in charge of us to herd us along. Also I really had to go the bathroom at one point and he was dropping off another woman before the ferry and asked her if I could use her washroom. Had to wait for the grandpa to finish first, but then was much relieved. An all-around good experience so far.
And after waiting in line to buy our ferry tickets (2000 GYD = 10 USD) and waiting in line to get our departure stamps at customs, and waiting in the waiting room for the ferry to come and unload (atleast there was a TV playing Happy Feet 2), we are finally on our way (2 hrs later). We helped a Brazilian couple who didn’t know how to write fill out their arrival cards by communicating in Portuñol [a mix of Spanish and Portuguese]–makes me fell better about making our way in Brazil [despite neither of us speaking Portuguese]. And the nephew has arranged a minibus on the other side (through someone standing in [the customs] line) to take us the 3-hr ride to Paramaribo. We are certainly on our way!
My lasting impressions from Guyana will be of good, interesting culture-mixed food; US & Surinamese embassy bureaucracy; rhinocerous-like manatees; beautiful gardens in Promenade park; trash everywhere; kissy noises and calls of “while chicks!”; people giving generally good prices so haggling is not necessary; and mosquitoes that attack like a torrent in the night (if you don’t have a net), like the rain. It was a good start to this journey.