Journey to Mahdia
01.07.2012 - 01.09.2012 96 °F
Nate and Ilana planned our entire hike to Kaieteur Falls - the nations top visitor attraction. Because they had been living in Guyana for over a year and a half and had a very good grasp of how things were run in this country, they were able to set up all
our transport in advance for the three day journey. However, everyone else planning a trip to Guyana (where they don't know anyone), should join a tour group, such as Rainforest Tours, to avoid a lot of headaches. They provide all the transportation, local guides for the trek, and also cook for you. You’ll see from reading this blog why that is so important.
From Georgetown, we took a bus south to the next largest town towards the center of the country, Mahdia. Allthough only 315km away, the total travel time was slightly under 8hrs over pot-holed dirt roads that weave through swampy marsh, dense jungle and mountainsides. To me, the ride was a blast! But to anyone who gets even the slightest bit of motion sickness or has any type of back injury, or even claustrophobia, should probably opt for a different method of transport. Remember this ride?
Imagine sitting in it for 8 hours.
Transportation in Guyana is an experience in itself. First, understand that no form of public transportation will ever take you from point A to B in a straight shot. Oftentimes drivers will stop to pick up or drop off goods and passengers as personal errands or favors. Our “public” bus to Mahdia was a 12 passenger van filled to the brim with coolers, sacks of avocado, mango, rice and boxes of other goods. Every nook of the bus was stuffed with something, like a great game of Tetris. The bus operators were a husband and wife team who run this route every couple of weeks, and also own a small convenience store in their hometown (hence the loading of goods). (Sidenote: most people have several jobs in Guyana, therefore bus driver/convenience store owner is not uncommon). In some cases you may even be required to hold someone else's package on your lap for the entire trip.
Furthermore, It's safe to say that there is no such thing as a timetable for transportation. Perhaps you can get an approximation of when it will take off or arrive; but the best policy is to just throw out your itinerary and go with the flow.
While we sat in our bursting-at-the-seams van waiting to depart, 11 adults, 1 child, and 1 birdcage on the lap, in 89 deg heat with 100% humidity, I thought, “for sure, we must be ready to get on the road now!” But no, there was in fact, one seat available in the back row, and we waited approximately 40 minutes til someone came along who also happened to want to go to Mahdia that morning. Have I mentioned that our seats were reserved about a month in advance? But no one complained or made a sound, life is idly passing by at a much slower pace in Guyana, and that’s just the way it is.
One other crucial part of this journey was the music. While our van handled the potholes and sharp curves very well, there were still some parts of it that may have been held together by duct tape. But one thing they spared no expense on was definitely the sound system. Equipped with state of the art speakers and a sub-woofer that seemed to be molded into the doors, or maybe the seats, it ensured for a continuous ride of blaring guyanese hip hop music, with plenty of air-horns. For the ENTIRE...8...hour...ride.