Marudy Creek, Guyana
Today I went to the Community Liaison Officer coordinated trip to Marudy Creek Resort. My social sponsors were kind enough to pick me up at my home. Once I was aboard, we headed back west on the Coastal Highway. With a couple of very short exceptions, the highway is just two lanes. The road itself is centered right between houses and businesses. It is not unusual to see men working on a truck for example just two or three feet off of the traveled portion of the road.
Just west of Colorado Springs, as one drives on Ute Pass toward Woodland Park, there are signs that say “Share the Road.” Nowhere is that more true than here in Georgetown and surrounding areas. One constantly shares the road with pedestrians (there are very, very few sidewalks), bicyclists, mopeds, motor cycles, horse/donkey drawn carts, lose oxen, horses, goats, dogs, pigs, other crazy drivers, and the forever honking and stopping buses.
The buses are actually small Toyota minivans. Each one can hold 15 people, although the locals say they often surpass that number when they can. The buses all have an easily visible number painted on the front and rear to identify the particular route they serve. People congregate in small groups and hail the buses they need. When a bus stops, they do not completely move off of the roadway, leaving the other motorists going the same way no option but to swerve into oncoming traffic to get around the bus. That swerving obliges motorists traveling the other way to move over or risk being hit. The same type of ballet goes on when motorized vehicle meets pedestrians, horses, etc.
The real show starts when the bus stops. The conductor (paid by the driver), quickly opens the side door, hops out to make room for boarding or disembarking passengers, jumps back in and slides the door shut. As the door is closing, the driver tries to ease the bus back into traffic, regardless of whether or not there is traffic coming. Motorist coming upon the buses in this state tap on their horns a couple of times to signal to the bus that it is not yet safe to enter. Sooner or later, they make their way back into traffic and drive the next 100 meters or so to their next stop.
As I understand it, the locals pay about the equivalent of $0.80 for a ride on the bus. If the bus is operated by a sole owner, the owner gets the full amount less a small portion given to the conductor. If it is owned by someone other than the driver then the driver and conductor each get a smaller take.
I must admit, I sweat in this climate. I cannot imagine being couped up with 14 (or more) of my closest friends in one of those buses. I think each ride must be like playing the lottery; however, the winning ticket is getting back off of the bus in one piece!
We ultimately turned south on the Linden highway. That highway is just as described above; although, it worse in some places because the houses and businesses are built so much closer to the road. Traffic on the road was absolutely horrific. We thought there may have been construction or maybe even a traffic accident. After being backed up a mile or so, we saw the only problem was the traffic light that allows entrance to the housing development of Big Diamond. The road leaving the highway is not very wide. It also carries traffic to the 20,000 plus homes in the area.
The intersection is right at a rum distillery, so some of the traffic of employees and guests added to the traffic mess. I will bear the distillery in mind for the future. I am sure it will be interesting to take a tour there. Rum has been distilled in Guyana since the mid-19th century. The locals explain that the British Navy used to give all of their sailors rations of rum. That rum came from Guyana more often than not.
Once we made it through the Big Diamond intersection traffic was not bad at all. That being said, we did have to pass several trucks, one tractor pulling a trailer and a horse drawn cart (not to mention all the other people and animals noted above).
As we neared the airport area, we turned east off of the Linden highway. A mile or two further in and we turned off of the paved road onto a dirt road. We went north along that road for maybe a mile. That is when we drove into the Marudy Creek Resort. The resort had many covered structures, some fairly large. Other than the thatched roof, all of the structures were open on all sides. The center feature of the resort is the creek and the swimming pond.
Marudy Creek is know as a black-water creek. That is because the deeper the water the more black it looks. One of the guests showed me how the water varies in color depending on the depth. Within two or three inches of the surface the water is clear with a bit of a yellow tint. So the sand bottom in those areas looks yellow. The bottom of the creek and the pond change colors as the depth increases, progressively changing to black. Even though it sounds like the water would be dirty, it is not. The locals indicated the coloration of the water has to do with the natural tannins in the water as the result of some the rain forest plants. Apparently the water is soft. I did not go in. Not because of the water but because I wanted to stay out of the sun.
The resort supplied a BBQ grill, so at lunch time, I helped grill several things for the people that had come with us. As payment, I was lucky enough to receive a superb hamburger and a homemade brat. I was stuffed when we finally left.
Luckily, the trip back was not such a traffic nightmare.