Monday, August 21, 2006

A Long Ferry Tale

Traveling to another “city” in a third world country can actually be pretty complicated. A few days after we arrived in Guyana, we left the capital due to the upcoming election and the pending riots/shootings/chaos. (If you’re at all interested, the presidential elections are going to be on Mon, August 28th. If you’re at all worried, I’m living 45 minutes from the capital and there’s an emergency evacuation plan in place so we’ll all be safe and sound. If you’re still reading this then you must be my mom, and I promise I’m fine. Foreigners aren't a target.)

To get from Georgetown to Bartica, we had to take a 1 hour bus ride, then a 5 hour ferry ride. In the US, a ferry is a nice wide barge that you might be able to drive your car onto and conductors let you board in an orderly fashion. In Guyana it’s a little different.

We were told we could drive our van with all the suitcases onboard, but the boat was already at full capacity because they had to fit to a few cows, 200 camp kids, and some furniture. Cows are very important in this country... I'll discuss more about them later. Even though we got there early, the “entrance area” of the boat was completely barricaded with all of the above. The only option for us to get on the boat was to have two of the male volunteers climb onto the railing of the second floor of the ferry and toss each other all fifty pieces of super heavy luggage.

I was still on land helping to facilitate the suitcase toss when the boat gave two loud tugs signaling it was ready to depart. I was left with no other choice than to climb up the two levels of railing, only to find myself hanging off the side of the boat.

There was still one volunteer behind me who was getting a little nervous about the boat leaving and asked me to step in. The people on the boat were standing shoulder to shoulder and there was no room for me to move down. Again I had no other choice but to balance my feet on the railing, hope that I didn’t slip since my health insurance doesn’t cover this, and monkey bar across the length of the boat until I found a spot where I could jump into the ferry.

Once the ferry set sail, I found myself in the hot sun with about an inch of space between me, the railing, the volunteers, some locals and our suitcases. It didn’t take long before I realized I could climb over everyone to the other group sitting on top of 100 boxes of vodka, then down the stairs to the ship crew. We befriended the cook- who shared his rum and some fried fish, a local kid- who shared her fruit and chips, and occupied ourselves during the best ferry ride ever.
Ferry Feet
Third world country transportation. Ferry riders jump down on the speed boats to bring them to their destination.

Crowded Ferry
The crowded 5 hour ferry ride.

Super Crowded Ferry
Again none of these pics are mine since blogger doesn't like to load them for me.

Blogger’s note: These stories are not told in real time as many Americans are used to. Some stories may be posted out of order, such as this one. We've already left Bartica and took the speed boats back into Georgetown, which took about an hour, but we got pelted with heavy rain that felt like hail. We just can't win.
I’ve arrived at my site in Soesdyke and I love it. Our landlords are so helpful and friendly. The first night we arrived, they went into town 45 mins away to get us food. That evening they brought me a mosquito net, fresh water and made sure we were safe. I still have more stories, but one at a time.


missjenny said...

dont make us wait...i love reading your stories...more more more!!!

yenny said...

i notice that guy has a cell phone.

mccolt is probably gonna be our QB.

i cut my hair to my shoulders.

yesterday was my first day of school.

that is all.

p.s hello mrs. wang

yenny said...

oooops, i was really tired at work. i meant colt mccoy.