Georgetown, Guyana – April 21, 2014
What an amazing day! We missed Easter Monday last year (locally also known as Kite Day) because we traveled back to Colorado for Leslie’s dad’s funeral. We made up for that today.
We made it to the East Coast Highway seawall shortly before 08:00. As you might imagine, there were very few people out at that hour. Regardless, it provided some fun photo opportunities. I think one of my favorites was the “Pristine Waters” sign on the seawall. I was taking some of those photos with the aid of my tripod. At one point, a man approached. He kept saying, “Did you see me? Did you see me?” I finally figured out he was talking about the photograph. I told him, no, but quickly hit my shutter release button. Then I was able to say to him I did see him!
From the seawall, Leslie and I headed toward the Kitty area of Georgetown. I had driven by a few days earlier and noticed several kites for sale hung on a wall. I drove us to the intersection of Alexander and David Streets. As we drove by, I could see the vendor was arriving at the corner. Since nothing was set up yet, we drove on, looking at the various sites in the area.
Ultimately we made it back to Kitty. I parked our vehicle and got out to take a photograph of the kites. As I was doing that, the vendor, from a different corner of the intersection yelled out at me. He wanted to know if I wanted to buy a kite. I met him in the middle of the intersection, and we walked together toward his display.
I asked him what Kite Day meant to him. He said it was just something that he has been doing since he was a tiny lad. Every year he makes kites and sells them at this corner. Over the previous two weeks, he had made about 200 kites. He sold the kites for $1,800, or $2,100 for the entire outfit. That equates to a little more than $10. I took him up on his offer and asked for the whole outfit. As I stood there, he put the kite together, strung the kite, added a tail, placed a piece of wax paper on the upper portion so that it would make the requisite noise, and the necessary string to fly a kite. He was also kind enough to pose for a photograph.
As fate would have it, right across the street from the kite vendor was the “Flamingo” building. I had taken photos of that building from a different angle in the past. I found the angle that morning particularly interesting.
With the kite in the vehicle, we began our drive back to the seawall for the maiden flight. En route, Leslie noticed a home that had a pink door. It stood out to her because of the nearby flowers that were a similar shade of pink. I made my way around the block so we could capture the home on “film.”
Back at the seawall, we walked to just the perfect spot for the maiden flight. Preparing for that moment, I was reminded of flying kites in Colorado in my childhood. I recalled the need to run for several yards with a kite in tow to try to get it up in the air. That was not required at the seawall. There was a fairly stiff breeze. I just directed Leslie to stand in one location and let out some of the string. I stood where I was and held the kite. When she was at just the right spot, I had her stop. I lifted the kite above my head and let go. Instantly the kite was airborne. Unfortunately, the kite went round and round a couple of times and then crashed. After repeating that for about the third time, one of the locals that had been watching said our tail was too light. I think that is the first time either of us had been accused of our tail being too light…
Since we did not have any fabric to add to the tail, we gathered up the kite and began to walk back to our vehicle. On the way, Leslie stopped at a beer vendor booth and asked what their diagnosis might be. They agreed the kite’s tail was too light. Leslie asked how that might be remedied. The three unanimously said we should add a branch. At that very instant, one of the young men jumped up and pulled a weed out of the ground. He tied the plant to the end of the tail. Then he escorted Leslie to the back of the vendor tent and put the kite in the air. It flew like a champ!
After a couple of minor crashes, the kite was flying well. All of a sudden, it fell out of the sky. The same guy, Leslie, found out his name was Bailey, dashed over and recovered the kite. When he brought it back, he pointed out that the kite had partially torn. Since he had done so much to help us, Leslie said he could have the kite. He and the other two guys were delighted. Also, to show our appreciation, we bought two Banks Premium beers from them.
We took our beer to the next tent where an older man offered us a chair. We took him up on his offer and sat there at that early morning hour to drink our beer. The man was probably in his 60’s. He had a long beard and long hair. At first glance, one may have steered clear, but he was a lovely man. We very much enjoyed talking with him.
One of the stories he shared with us was how people used to tie razor blades at the end of their kite tales. When their kites got too close to another, the tail would cut the string of the other kite. When I first heard that I thought it was just a tall tale. However, one of my colleagues confirmed that that used to happen. It still happens sometimes today.
After ceding our kite to the “beer” guys, we drove home.
Later in the day, our friend Fabien called to see if we wanted to fly a kite with him. Of course, we said yes. We headed out again around 15:00. As soon as we got to the straight portion of the East Coast Highway, I was utterly shocked at how many kites were in the sky. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of kites in the air. It was amazing!
We parked near the Guyana Defense Force field. We walked into the area with Fabien’s cocker spaniel, Simba, in tow. Walking around in the field, we had to dodge kite strings reasonably frequently. We found the perfect spot on the grounds and Fabian prepared to unveil THE kite. It was a nylon kite in the shape of a parachute. There were several lines from the fabric that met at two guide-lines. Each guide-line had a handle. He laid the kite on the ground, stretched out the guide-lines to their full length, jerked the guide-lines a couple of times and the kite seemed to jump into the air.
After he had flown it for a while, he asked Leslie if she would like to try. She jumped at the chance. After a little bit of instruction, she went solo. Unfortunately, shortly after going solo, she guided the kite right over some telephone lines. Luckily, Fabien was able to retrieve it deftly, so the fun continued.
I had my opportunity too. While I did not guide it into any nearby lines, let’s say the kite was not always up in the wind. I was surprised by how much strength it took to overcome the force of the wind.
The kite was so unique that there was an endless stream of people, young and old, that approached Fabien to talk about the kite. Without fail, he always ended the conversation with the offer to fly the kite. A couple of people took him up on his offer. While they were in our vicinity, they also had to talk to and pet Simba.
Kite flying at the Guyanese Defense Force parade grounds.
While flying the kite, Fabien had spotted a massive kite in the air near the seawall. When we were all finished flying, we took a walk along the seawall toward that kite. Along the seawall and on the beach there were hundreds of people. I was surprised that with that many kites in the air, there were not more instances of kites getting tangled up with each other.
As we walked along, Simba was a big hit. Numerous people photographed him and took iPhone movies of him as we walked by.
We finally made it to where the colossal kite was tied up to a tree. It was probably three times larger than most other kites. Soul Train was written at the top of the kite. However, we quickly found out size does not matter. A young man and his girlfriend walked by followed by their kite. The kite was only about one inch; yes, one inch. It was tied by a string to a stick the young man held in the air as they walked along the seawall.
Heading back toward the vehicle, a man stopped me and asked me to take a photo of him and his friend. I did as requested. I don’t know why he asked that because he never followed up with any other comment such as please email me a copy. Oh well.
Driving home along the East Coast Highway, there were cars, people and kites everywhere. It was indeed a fantastic holiday.