Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas . . . Guyana?

A little blogging break, as I spent last week in Guyana for work.

I know what you're thinking: where on earth is that?? And don't worry, you're not alone. I can't think of a single person I told I was going to Guyana that actually knew where it was.

Except for, presumably, the Guyanese. And I'm not so sure about that.

So to put your mind at ease, I will tell you: it's nowhere.

I mean, technically, it's on the northern coast of South America, between Venezuela and Suriname.

But really, it may as well be nowhere.

So on that note, a few travel tips from yours truly:

Places you should never, ever visit: Georgetown, Guyana.
Airlines you should never, ever fly: Liat
Jobs you should never, ever have: mine

Since I'm the contact person for Guyana on my team, I got to participate in a four-person site visit to the capital of Guyana, Georgetown, to try to figure out what the heck is going on with their ministries and why they routinely fail to participate in or contribute to our organization, when we're basically offering them free money and training every other week.

(Can I mention that Jamaica is also one of my contact countries, and yet, my boss has yet to send me there?)

It took 15 hours to get there (including a 6 hour layover in Trinidad--this trip was like a tour of the Caribbean, but all I saw were airports). And then we had 16 meetings in 4 days--a really relaxing journey.

(Can I also mention that our Executive Secretary used to be the U.S. ambassador to Guyana and could not stop giving us history lessons about the city--the same lessons, over and over?)


Georgetown is not--I repeat, NOT--a tourist destination. There is a nice, resort-type hotel there called the Pegasus (I didn't stay there because it cost nearly my entire per diem per night, and I enjoy eating), but there is absolutely, positively nothing to do. The big "thing" is walking on the sea wall that divides the city from the beach.

This is an interesting thing about Georgetown--it's on the coast, but the beaches are dirty and the water is muddy, so there's no beach-going, hence, no tourism.

There are also no sidewalks. Which makes for some interesting walking tours of the city. My life repeatedly flashed before my eyes, not only while walking, but also while being driven around.

Georgetown is home to one of the world's largest wooden churches. Which is interesting to look at for all of 5 seconds, and then you're done and wondering what you're going to do with your remaining 4 days in the country.

I've heard that in the country's interior, which is jungle, you can do adventure things like zip lining and hiking, and there's a pretty waterfall, but I didn't have time for any of that. Maybe it's fun, I don't know.

What I do know is Georgetown is not fun. It's dirty. It's rainy. The rain causes instant flooding because the city is actually below sea level (why do humans do this??). It's hot. It's incredibly humid. The food is terrible (although if you like chicken, you're in luck). It's terribly underdeveloped. It's depressing.

(Oh, on the outskirts of the city, there are stray donkeys. Stray. Donkeys. Really amusing to watch, but sad to think about.)

So, needless to say, I was eager to get the heck out of there by the time our mission was complete. And so of course, that didn't happen. Instead, Liat cancelled my flight to Barbados.

I showed up at the airport, giddy smile on my face, ready to hop on that plane and get home to my kitties and my boy. I marched up to the counter with my itinerary in hand and presented it with naive confidence. And the guy looked at it, looked at me, and said, "that flight's cancelled."

And smiled.

Like that's a hilarious circumstance I'll really get a kick out of.

When actually, I just wanted to kick him.

And it got better.

Why was the flight cancelled? "Not enough people, it's not profitable."

So, you've screwed my entire flight schedule for your bottom line?

"Oh, I mean, there's a maintenance problem."

Uh huh.

So, I waited around the dingy airport for four hours until they shipped me to Barbados on the afternoon flight, and I spent the evening alone (I was the only one on the team that was supposed to take that flight---thanks, boss, for making a last minute decision about my participation, so I was stuck with the worst flights imaginable) in a depressing airport hotel. I made it onto the first flight to Miami in the morning (Liat didn't rebook any of my flights; they helpfully just put me on standby), and then spent Saturday wandering from gate to gate at the Miami airport trying to get on a flight to DC.

But I finally, finally made it.

(Incidentally, Barbados looked gorgeous. I would love to go back there under better circumstances.)

And what do I have to show for my trip? A half-finished shawl, which isn't too shabby. Getting my knitting needles through airport security on every flight almost felt like an accomplishment.

But I'm really, really hoping I don't have to do any traveling any time soon.