Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Georgetown, Guyana - Garden City of the Caribbean

February 11, 2014

Once called the Garden City of the Caribbean, Georgetown may not be in its heyday at the moment, but the capital of the former British colony still has some interesting sights and dynamic history to offer the visitor.  Kristina and I explored the city courtesy of a walking tour with Eugene Noel.  We didn't know what to expect with the tour, but Eugene provided a wealth of knowledge, giving context to so many of the dilapidated buildings and historic sites of the city.  Though he's 66, he seemed tireless and provided around 6 hours of commentary from political insight to food recommendations and everything in between.

Though most visitors don't visit Guyana just to see the capital city, we learned a lot about the city and country in general, and we really enjoyed the insider's look at the city.

(A walkway down one of the main streets in Georgetown.  With former Dutch and British heritage, this path was first a canal built by the Dutch and then a tram line built by the British but then halted back in the 1930s.)

(The house of the Prime Minister along the same street, not far from Tiger Bay, an area once thriving with industry and now a zone that most recommend you stay away from a night-time.)

(The Red House of Dr. Cheddi Jagan.  Dr. Jagan was aligned with some of the Communist/Socialist regimes of the 1960s, so the US government supposedly did their best to keep him out of power in Guyana for quite a while, though he eventually did become the leader of the country.  The house still contains his old office, gifts from other heads of state and some interesting facts about his life.)

(An Amerindian meeting place, a military truck and a statue of a hatching sea turtle that represents the large numbers of sea turtles that use Guyana's coastline for nesting.)

(Though it has a long coastline, most of the area is marshy or muddy, so there really aren't too many tropical beaches to speak of.  This is the Sea Wall on the edge of Georgetown.  The city is situated right at the mouth of the Demarara River, as it flows into the Atlantic.)

(Stabroek Market - named after the former name of the city while under Dutch rule.  As they did in Paramaribo, the Dutch built a canal system for the low lying city that is still in use today.)

(The Parliament Building - another of the stately buildings sitting side by side with other places in a much worse state.  The country gained independence from the British in 1965, and it seems that some of the architecture hasn't been as well kept since then.  The mix of restored and decaying buildings makes for an interesting setting, though.)

(Another government building just around the corner from the market.)

(The wooden buildings don't fare so well in the city that has had its share of fires, along with the humid air from the ocean and heavy rains during the wet season.)

(Old British influences are quite obvious in the central downtown area, though the accents are distinctly Caribbean.)

(St. George's Cathedral, one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world, sits in the center of town with cars and the occasional horse cart whizzing by.)


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