Travelling in Third World Countries

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 6:37 PM | 8 comments »

Part two - Travelling in Third World Countries


It took three hours (normally a one-hour drive) to get to Georgetown, Guyana. Shoot, I should have known better. The Pegasus WAS the elite hotel for the country. We arrive, me sighing with relief, because we had actually arrived. The taxi driver sighing with relief because the woman from hell had finally let him off his beat.

Okay so now I check in. And I am told that there is no bell hop service, the elevator doesn’t work (yeah, well there’s no electricity- think about it) and I have to carry my three suitcases (all heavy as lead) up six floors. Yep, count ‘em, six floors.

Okay, now it’s around 4 AM, there is no air conditioning, the mosquitoes are nuclear in their strength and it’s about ninety degrees farenheight with a humidity of maybe 115. So go figure. There’s no electricity, and no candles and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Okay, eventually, exhaustion and stress force you into two hours of sleep.

You wake up, and since there is no electricity, there is no water in the pipes. You arrange a bath from the front desk. Medieval times or so you think, before submerging in a glacial tub. How can they manage this in the heat and humidity? Power on, there is no other option. The UNDP phone around nine thirty. Someone will pick you up a voice says, and before I can ask questions hangs up. I wait outside the Pegasus, luxury hotel as it’s billed - bleach!

My first day teaching the UNDO staff is so bittersweet. The women, all in their forties, are valiant, brave, and have obviously put up with situations I have never dreamed about. I contract diarrhea around noon and visit the bathroom to discover, there is no toilet seat. But, who am I to complain? These women live with this as their daily situation.

Two hours later, I realize they only have electricity for four hours, usually in the morning, but that cannot be counted on. How am I to teach a computer literacy course without electricity? I drag my feet back to the hotel that night and try to figure out how to make the most of my week.

I taught them so little I will always regret that they paid for my visit. But, the people who had nothing, nothing I mean they were dirt poor, at the end of the week they hosted a thank you party for me. Somewhere, somehow, they paid black market prices and obtained food items unavailable at that time in Guyana, things you and I take for granted. Cheese, cracker, a horribly sweet fruit wine. The visit humbled me. To this day, I cannot think about it without my heart aching.

8 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // March 9, 2009 at 7:14 PM  

    What a wake up call for you and for us! The things you describe don't seem possible in today's world. Well, for few days after a tornado or an hurricane makes a visit. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mary Ricksen // March 9, 2009 at 8:27 PM  

    How brave you were to go there alone.
    How sad to know that people still live their whole lives that way in this day and age.
    It just doesn't seem right or fair does it?

  3. Arkansas Cyndi // March 9, 2009 at 8:29 PM  

    What an incredible experience. I agree with Mary... seems impossible for those of us who have everything to imagine such a life.

    Thank you for posting this. I know how much trouble it gave you and I would have been disappointed to have missed it.

  4. Barbara Monajem // March 9, 2009 at 8:39 PM  

    Fascinating post. I guess you learn to adapt when you live in an area without all the conveniences, but we certainly do take a lot for granted here.

  5. Beth Trissel // March 9, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

    Very moving. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. Scarlet Pumpernickel // March 9, 2009 at 10:14 PM  

    Makes one stop and think and give thanks. We are so bless to live in a modern country with all the comforts we enjoy. Seeing or hearing how some people live without the creature comforts we are so accustomed to should make us even more aware of the blessings of living in our country.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Scarlet

  7. Joanne // March 10, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

    An incredible and poignant story. How brave you were to go, and how brave the women are to endure their life with such dignity. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jianne Carlo // March 10, 2009 at 2:48 PM  

    Thanks for your comments. That time I spent in Guyana will always haunt me. I'd never visited a country run by a dictator.

    I never imagined what poverty looked like until then. I saw toddlers playing with an empty cigaretee case. The experience humbled me, for life.

    What those women went through on a daily basis I cannot begin to comprehend. They hadn't seen butter, and I mean just that, butter. in two decades.


    We're so far removed from any of this that we become arrogant.


    Jianne