So, Reid is doing exactly what he set out to do, and still the naysayers whine... Anyway...some news from Andy..
Mar 27, 2012
From El Dorado: Gold & Diamonds
that's all for now Mar 29, 2012
a jungle town with a population of a few thousand. The reason it exists today: gold and diamonds.
Beer anytime of day. Lots if it. A lady cracks open a bottle of beer before 8am like it's a multivitamin.
Dance Hall, Culture, Reggae, music of all sorts, blaring at all hours.
A seam of the late Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" sneaks past the musical montage and background hammering through the window and into my 8′ by 8′ open-ceiling room. (I sang along…it always was my favorite.)
Confronted with large roaches.
Red-red clay/sand (or loam) roads, dimpled like tin.
Sidewalks were left out of the planning. In their place, a fuzzy transition from roads filled with trucks carrying cargo to the bouncing and jostling that takes place in the clubs, bars, shops, and bars that might be shops or shops that might also be bars. (Just about every shop sells beer or rum or high wine by dark.) Locals hang in this confusion and baste in the humidity (let me guess, today its going to be around 100%?) as if there might be a low-key parade later in the day.
Babies—not children—riding on dirt bikes, being shuttled around by their caretakers. In case you were worried, they don't make helmets that small.
Sure, it's a gold town and in the middle of the bush where everything has to be trucked in from the coast, but they don't know how to handle their own inflation. A taxi ride is almost double what it would be in Manhattan for the same distance/time and more than quadruple than what is paid in Georgetown—$2000GUY ($10US) for a 4min ride, I don't think so. Meanwhile you can get a whole serving of egg fried rice at the Chinese joint down the road for $660GUY, the equivolent of $3.30US. This town's getting raped and I think I know who's at fault—themselves. I went through the economics of it and it doesn't work. So, I told the man so and paid accordingly. What am I doing in a taxi anyway? Why didn't we just walk? Fucking miners—born in the jungle/forgotten how to walk.
Restaurant walls are plated with giant speakers and big screen TV's playing movies all day. I actually saw a complete DJ setup adjacent to a freezer and I appreciated that. You know, it could be nice if your favorite eatery turned into a pounding club-like atmosphere at 2pm. Just please mind the #5-recyclable flowers on the tables.
The sharp contrast in their choice of haves and have-nots is like there was a geosocial earthquake. Picture this, there are two cabinets facing one another. One from the better-off side of town and the other from a lesser part. A phenomena occurs and half of the contents of each cabinet spill into each other, everything's all mixed up. The mismatch in stuff is just plain confusing at first: all the fresh rainwater in the world and eloboarte enough collection systems in place—no flushing toilet, running sink or shower (buckets); a white shinny toilet—no toilet seat; beer, sugared drinks, and junk food at every shop that lines the street—only one little fruit and vegetable stand (mind you the town is located in the middle of the plush rainforest); roofs topped with dishes labeled "Direct-TV"—a main street that breaks ankles and pops tires; flat-screen TVs, DVD players and sorround sound in restaurants—food served in styrofoam and plastic; wastfully burning vast amounts of power—no apparent garbage collection system; well-off enough to afford Type-2 diabetes—ignorant and lazy (washing some fucking dishes!, you know). You get it?
Mahdia, by the way, is a gateway to all the mining and interior work that takes place at sites that are traveled to over land. The start of every major operation in this region of the country takes place here. (The other major hub for mining is Bartica but for the sites traveled to by water.) And I will tell you, there is a stark difference between Mahdia and Bartica or any other town or village I've visited in Guyana—this place has got an edge to it. It's got a serious edge. The stares pierce a bit and, well, this guy
nailed the first impression (with the exception of leaving out the blaring music, which is crucial): Gold teeth glisten through clouds of marijuana in a bar deep in the Amazon where wildcat miners lured by the soaring price of gold have come to seek their fortunes under the jungle soil.
Cool, huh? The part I didn't agree with, however, is that I didn't find the place dangerous. Everyone knows everyone else here and the only trouble comes from outsiders. So I feel the quote about friends killings friends was a little bit for show. I mean, sure you could get into trouble if you wanted to, but keep to yourself and all is good. Wear gold jewelry down the street, bad idea. See no enemies and your likily to have none. Stick out but fit in and your…golden.
An insider handed me a piece of knowledge regarding the two types of guys who wear jewelry in Guyana: "If it's real, he's wearing a gun. Otherwise it's fake." The gun, obviously, for protection, or a sign of how he accquired the gold, or both. That said, I saw very little flashy jewelry, some gold chains.
A miner once confessed to me, "Ahndy, mon, let me tell you. Let me tell you! …this place is a mess Ahndy. There are four cities that don't sleep: New York, Rio, Hong Kong out in China or somewhere, and Mahdia."