A reporter of cricket matches who also wrote the cricket-tour book Pundits from Pakistan, Indian national Rahul Bhattacharya spent some time in Guyana covering matches in 2003 – 2004, so enjoying the country that he decided to return again later to spend an entire year meeting new people and exploring places most outsiders never come to know. The result is a unique travel book of great originality, chock full of outlandish characters, trips to places the reader will not even have imagined, and risky adventures to the interior. Not a “novel” by any stretch of that word’s definition, the book feels, overall, like a wonderfully described diary, with events unfolding more or less at random. It is a lively account of those who live on the fringes, taking big risks and chances, and surviving any way they can and at any cost. Trips to the interior for diamond-hunting, an analysis of the drug wars involving the East India vs. African gangs, and a bewitching woman with whom the author travels to Venezuela are part of the action. Those who are looking for a balanced picture of Guyana, a country of extraordinary beauty and much charm, will want to look elsewhere.
Category Archive for 'Guyana'
Long thought to have been the source of the El Dorado legend, and home of what was once the largest open-pit gold mine in South America, Guyana is quickly becoming a pioneer in wildlife conservation and ecotourism in South America. Birding trips near the capital of Georgetown can lead to the sighting of more than 50 varieties of birds in just an hour or two. The Kanuku Mountain sanctuary, inland, is home to more than three hundred fifty bird species, and the country as a whole is home to over eight hundred bird species. Well over two hundred mammal species, many of them unique, populate the three climate zones–forest, savannah, and coastal. To prevent the loss of habitats for these birds and mammals, some areas of the country are now under government protection, especially in the Kanuku Mountains and in the northernmost beach areas which serve as breeding grounds for several rare turtle species. Extended photo essay by Arif Ali.
The Ventriloquist’s Tale opens and closes with addresses by a mysterious, third person ventriloquist/narrator, representing the old Amerindian culture of myth and magic of southern Guyana. This narrator indicates that he is not the hero of the book because, as he tells the reader, “Your heroes and heroines are slaves to time…. They’ve forgotten how to be playful and have no appetite for adventure.” As the narrator unfolds the stories of the McKinnon family, half Scottish and half Wapisiana, we see illustrated in their lives the conflicts (and occasional melding) of their ancient ways with western science, religion, and exploitation. The narrator and, one understands, the author come down strongly on the side of the ancients, as the Amerindian characters enchant, amuse, and play with us while they show us their struggle with European intruders, including, at one point, Evelyn Waugh in search of inspiration.