Georgetown, Guyana – September 2, 2012
I woke up early this morning to prepare for mass. I left the house at about 06:30, driving west on the Seawall Highway. At one point I came upon a man pushing a large cart, taking up about half of the lane. What was unusual about that is he was in the right lane next to the median. Typically pedestrians are on the sides of the road, not the middle. This encounter was made all the more surprising because the usual vehicles swerving out of the left lane into the right lane to pass bicyclists, buses, etc. already had me hugging toward the median.
Other than the cart encounter, the trip in was effortless, much like my trip to the Embassy. I continue west on the highway until I reach Camp Street. A left turn on Camp Street and I found myself at the Brickdam Cathedral in about a mile or so.
Before mass, I took a few photos of the exterior and interior of the Cathedral. Upon entering the Cathedral, a man is there selling copies of the Catholic Standard, the newspaper for the diocese, for GD$40. That is around US$0.25. He also handed out the bulletin for the week.
The proper name is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Since it is on Brickdam Street, many of the locals refer to it as Brickdam Cathedral. It is a reasonably large Cathedral, built in 1920 or 1921 out of what appears to be mostly concrete. The ceilings rise to some 60 feet or so. In the spirit of Caribbean churches, during mass, the windows and doors are all left open. There are several fans strategically placed throughout to supplement the airflow. Unfortunately for me, I did not sit close enough to a fan, so I was sweating like there was no tomorrow. Those around me must have thought I was one frightened sinner!
The northeast corner of the Brickdam Cathedral.
I believe the priest this morning was a visiting priest. However, there was some announcement before mass about a new priest coming to the diocese soon.
From my pew, I could not see the choir fully. I could see about five or six ladies dressed in medium blue robes. It sounded as if the music was provided by an electric guitar and a drum set. When the entrance hymn started, I was out of luck. I had not picked up a book (I’m not sure from where) so I did not know the words.
The mass itself was like any other mass with the exception they use a different translation of the Bible. The readings were the same; just the Bible translation was different.
After mass, I went out and took another photo of the front side of the Cathedral. I made it back to the car and turned on the AC, thankfully! I sat there in air-conditioned comfort as I consulted a map. On the way home I wanted to stop by the grocery store, Nigel’s. The most direct route was to go back north on Camp Street and then turn east on Robb Street. As I found out, the shortest distance between two points is NOT always a straight line!
The west facade of the cathedral.
Before I knew what I had done, I found myself smack dab in the middle of the Bourda Market. This is a street market where there is vendor booth after vendor booth. They are selling everything from fruit to shirts and potato chips to belts. The one lane of traffic came to a standstill. I could not go anywhere to get out of the market because there was a vehicle in front of me and behind me. There were no side streets which I could use to escape.
The traffic crept along ever so slowly. There was very little room between the sides of my car and the front of the vendor booths. What little space there was completely filled with pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and men pushing two-wheeled carts. At one point, while the cars were stopped. A lady stopped at the front passenger side of my vehicle, leaned on the roof of the vehicle, and had a conversation with someone at one of the booths.
As the road approached a canal I saw there was a side street and some of the vehicles in front of me were taking that street. I vaguely remembered driving through the area in the last two weeks with someone from the Embassy. I knew that the market was even longer in that direction, so I continued straight. Once I crossed the canal I was out of the market.
In another couple of blocks I did find Nigel’s Supermarket. I went inside with my list of 10 or 11 items and walked out with US$50 spent (GD$10,000). One of the sackers helped me to my car and I tipped him GD$300 (US$1.46). That was about GD$100 too high but it was the change I had received.
Back in the car I consulted the map again. I knew this time that I needed to drive several blocks east before I turned back north to ensure I did not get stuck in the Bourda Market again. I made it back to Camp Street and turned toward home. Quite an adventurous day for someone that is not quite used to driving on the wrong side of the road.
At home, after unloading my few grocery items, I went into our back yard to examine our banana trees. I had never seen banana trees in person. I had to take some photos! I am sure if a Guyanese had seen me they would have thought I was bananas!!
Banana trees in our back yard.