Do you have the mid-summer blues? Summer just not turning out the way you thought it would? Well kick back and read about someone who will put your woes in perspective and leave you thinking of the endless potential of your summer. And vice versa if you’re in Australia.
Guyana is a harsh mistress, I leaned in to kiss her goodbye and got yet another slap in the face. Another country visited, another case of unrequited love.
Georgetown…I went to the electronics store to pick up my damaged 5D ii camera with the supposedly damaged part. You will recall that the first time around the part that they had sent away for was damaged. They sent away again for it and now it arrived but was the wrong part. “Okay, okay can I please just have my money back. I am leaving in a couple of days and don’t have time for this”. “Yes, yes of course” the owner answered. “But of course your money is still invested in the part, first we must get a refund on the part, and then we can return your money”. “Of course”- I said with grating teeth, “you could just give me the money now and keep the refund money”. “Oh but finances are so tight, are margins are so thin, I have already invested your money…”. I looked around for anything in my near vicinity that I could use to bludgeon this man into submission with. No such luck. “We can of course send you the money when you leave the country by Western Union”. I barely acknowledged his bare-faced lie. “Sure” I said staring the man down. I left the store, a seething mass of frustration. I turned into a local diner, not tasting the food. I checked over the camera only to notice that the battery wasn’t there. “You have got to be kidding me”! How many times have I uttered that phrase?!!! With a quick, limping step I walked into the store and asked for the battery. “Hmm, ahhh…are you sure you don’t?-”. I cut the squirmy little bastard off without hesitation. “No, you have it”. He eyed me, and cast a furtive glance at the other employees in the shop. He saw the flinty look in my eye and perhaps realized that he was getting too greedy. “Oh of course”- he said obsequiously “it must be around here somewhere”. He made a show of looking around before pulling it out of a drawer (probably filled with other items stolen from unwitting tourists). Thanks I said in the most cutting way I could manage. I left, straight backed, regally, like the military man who had stared down his adversary. Of course I ran into the door, pulled at it a few times, before realizing my error and pushing my way into the damp, fetid heat. Dazed, I somehow made it back to my hostel and collapsed on my bed. Telling myself that I wouldn’t leave that room until a few hours before my flight.
Hunger gnawed at me, the heat wilted me within my stuffy room. But I was only at the gates of hell in my hostel. If I dared open that front door, I would undoubtedly be consumed by the flames, shopkeepers would impale me on their pitchforks and I would suffocate in the sulphurous fumes spewed by the sewers. “It’s not cowardice”, I told myself, “it’s damn well justified”- and I ran back into my room like a little girl. I spent the hours watching bootlegged movies and worrying about overstaying my 1 month visa by two months. Would they keep me in this God forsaken country? I’m not ashamed to say that I cried a little.
Then, with a mixture of relief and trepidation I emerged from my safe haven. It was night, a time when the lesser thieves gave ground to the more serious criminals. I ordered a taxi to take me the few blocks from my hostel to the minibus depot. From there I would catch a minibus to take me to the airport. The first taxi to arrive was a young man, not really conspicuous in any way other than a radio that pumped rap into the night, which bellowed like a dirty smokestack, polluting the air. I peeked from behind the curtain and ignored the angry honks. I wasn’t getting into a car with anyone that I couldn’t overpower. And so after a few minutes of waiting he took off with a final honk. I called another taxi, same deal. It was only the third taxi that brought an old man. A foot and half in the grave, if I breathed on him I might push in over that precipitous threshold between life and death. “This will work quite nicely” I thought to myself and stepped out confidently. The taxi driver squinted up at me and drove me to the depot without any problems. I was so exultant that I had made this leg of the trip without incident that I tipped the old man generously, though he was too myopic too appreciate the tip fully.
The minibus. Well as far as minibuses go it was without incident. Now the airport, the last hurdle… I waited a few hours until time for my boarding. I tried pushing myself into a zen like state, when that failed I took a couple ativan- the real secret to Bhuddist grace. Calm, literally unable to work myself up into a nervous state I approached the customs official. He looked at my visa and then looked up at me suspiciously, “you know you’re visa has expired”. “Is that so?” I drawled unconcernedly. “Yes” he said, obviously impressed by my unconcern. “Well, by how much?”. “Two months”. “Hmm, that’s funny, as you can see I’m a Canadian citizen and I’m entitled to 3 months. I don’t know why they would have only stamped 1 month”. The man eyed me once more and then stamped me through. I tipped my hat and nearly pissed myself in relief. I was through, I was going home. Home!!! Home to a Dr.’s unwelcome diagnosis, home to a dying dog, home to misfortune. Home…