Tuesday, September 13, 2016

a day in the life

(a snapshot of what my days in Georgetown have been like, lately)

Today is the day I decided I'm going to try wearing my hair down today. It's been really hot lately so I've been piling my hair on top of my head in a high ponytail or bun so that my hair wouldn't stick to the back of my sweaty neck, but on this particular day I had a lot of meetings planned, so I reasoned that I would be able to stay cool inside. Time to let my hair down.

I would quickly learn to regret this decision.

I called for cab. The cab did not have air conditioning. On the way to work, I saw a cow hanging out by the road and I wondered who the cow belonged to and why it was there. It wasn't usually there.

At my first stop, I sank down at my desk with a great sigh of relief because the air conditioner was on full blast. It was so cool, I could have a nice warm cup of Jamaican sorrel tea. I love tea, but usually the weather is too hot to enjoy it.

A colleague came into the office and announced that she had found bees.


Well, I guess I could be okay with bees, I thought, as long as they're not Africanized bees. I had read some articles in the newspaper lately about horrible attacks in Guyana by swarms of Africanized bees, some leading to horrible deaths, and quite frankly, that was a little scary to think about.

They're African bees, the colleague announced as she returned back into the room.

A company would be called to smoke them out. Meanwhile, I decided to get myself out of there fast.

I headed over to my next scheduled event, a Jubilee celebration held by a few government ministries and the Women and Gender Equality Commission to honour the women in history who had made great contributions to Guyana. It was held at the majestic Arthur Chung Conference Centre which, surprisingly despite the lavish decor of its facade, was not air conditioned because it had an open air concept. This is a concept that Canada doesn't really have, except maybe the TTC station entrances that lead underground which are always a slushy mess in the winter. I tried to sweep my hair aside to look like less of a sweaty disaster, and wondered how all the other women in the room managed to look so cool and dignified. Inspired by the speeches, I got what I needed at the event and headed off to my next destination.

My next task was to navigate my way through the bustle of the magistrates' courts.  There was an argument happening at the front gate with some folks on the street and the court guards. I tried to hurry past, but a well-dressed woman stopped me outside.

"Do you think you could get me a job at your work?" she asked me.

I blinked in surprise. "Canada's pretty cold in the winter, you know," I blurted out, my mind still on the slushly TTC subway stations.

Her face fell in disappointment. She had meant the Canadian High Commission in Guyana, which was considerably warmer than Canada, and also a place that I didn't work for.

Surprisingly, the magistrates' courts were air-conditioned, and had a great air of solemnity and dignity.  Unfortunately, it was right in there that I had an asthma-triggered coughing fit, removing much of the solemnity and dignity in the room. I thought I would die of embarrassment.

I stopped for lunch at one of my favourite snack joints, a Rastafarian place called House of Flavours serving ital food. The food is cheap and fantastic, although I usually prefer to get it as a take away and eat it elsewhere. Inside the place, it was not air-conditioned, of course, and mosquitoes nibbled at my ankles while Rastafarians hung out, watching gory kung fu movies on the tiny TV above the fridge. I felt like I was intruding. But the meal was delicious. House of Flavours is the reason why I will not be getting scurvy, because I pretty much don't eat vegetables otherwise.

After my meal, I reluctantly headed back out into the blazing hot sun. I have almost grown accustomed to sweating in the business suits that I have to wear to match the business formal dress culture of Guyana, but really, this whole wearing my hair down thing was a mess. I walked in a couple of unproductive circles, trying to find the next office I was supposed to meet at.  Getting lost downtown seems to be one of my main activities here for a few reasons:
  • I refuse to get a smart phone with a data plan because I'm perfectly comfortable with T9 flip phones. I've been living in Nunavut for the last couple of years, dammit, where smart phones are relatively new, and also I'm of the generation that grew up without cell phones at all. On the other hand, it means not having access to a map app...
  • ...or access to any map at all, since nobody really feels comfortable pulling out a map in the middle of the street like a target sign to get robbed.
  • Usually, I look at a map beforehand and memorize where I'm supposed to go. This doesn't always work out because there aren't always street signs.
 I saw a chicken literally cross the road. My life is a joke.

As I continued along my extra long extra hot wander through town, some men offered helpful directions while other men catcalled me.  Eventually I found the office, which was not air-conditioned. At the end of the day, I decided to head back to the first office, for some more air conditioning and tea.  A man in a truck sat waiting at the gate.

"I'm here to take care of the bees," he said.

I shuddered and decided that maybe I should call it a day.