Settling down at the Guyana Oasis
I sat down and had a Banks beer at the Guyana Oasis in the Rupunini. A couple of tourists in backpacks soon arrived. A misunderstanding with their ride had caused them to be momentarily stranded here. They came over and made conversation. They were from Switzerland and were heading to the Iwokrama Rainforest. Unfortunately, they did not stay long, and I was soon alone again.
Read the first part of the story to learn how I was stuck in the middle of the Guyana Rupunini by myself with nothing to do: A night in the Guyana Rupunini Oasis Service Center
A truck pulled in soon after, and a gentleman and a younger fellow got themselves some grub. There were four or five long tables free. Instead, they came and sat down right opposite of me. This would never happen in America where people covet their space instead of conversation even when alone.
Meeting the Banks beer distributor
The American in me got slightly annoyed for a second. “Can’t you see there are four other open tables,” I thought to myself, but then I remembered I was not in the United States, I was in a remote area, and I was bored out of my fucking mind at the Guyana Oasis. Of course I welcomed the conversation.
I soon found out they were Banks beer distributors. They drove up and down the Georgetown-Lethem Road providing local vendors with beer. What a gratifying job I thought.
The significance was not lost on me either. I have seen many beer truck drivers in my time, but I have never sat down at a bar with a drink and stared across from my benefactor. It put a human face to my beer drinking. I quickly ordered another one and tipped my bottle to Bernab the Banks beer truck driver. I was not drinking for myself, but for the local economy. Part of his dinner was paid for by my beer.
He was soon on his way. I was about to wander around outside when I saw two white young ladies walking up the street. I hate to interject color into the story, but I was in the middle of the interior of Guyana where more than 90 percent of the population was either Indian, black African, a mix, or Amerindian. It was an unusual sight, just as much as a goofy hat adventure travel writer stuck in the middle of a dry savannah must have been to them.
English teachers at the Guyana Oasis
Rachel and Jema were from Scotland and England and were teaching in the local school for a year in Annai. They came to the Guyana Oasis to grade papers and eat. They invited me to join them, and I got my dinner as well: A tasty plate full of chicken, rice, and vegetables for $7.00.
I wish I would have talked to them before coming as they were a great source of information about the country and area having lived there for three months. I enjoyed hearing about their teaching stories and experiences living in this interesting isolated community. They were interested in my blog and my experiences in Guyana and beyond, so it was a great conversation that only people who love travel and adventure can have.
We talked for two hours until they sadly left. They had school the next day, so they took off around 8 p.m. I was very pleased because I thought time would move at a snail’s pace, but four had passed talking to other Guyana Oasis customers and the time had flown.
In the meantime, I had helped the local economy by purchasing several beers. This local economy was not just an abstract study of resources, but a face who was just eating in front of me just two hours earlier. My friend might have to make a special trip to stock the place up tomorrow just because of me. I ordered two more and headed to my hammock and benab as it was getting dark.
The next morning I awoke at 7 a.m. and walked over to the Oasis for coffee. Bob Marley was emanating loudly from the joint. A dude was dancing around the empty café by himself. He paused his solo dance in order to ask me where I was from and when I replied he grinned and said “Obama,” and kept dancing to his Bob Marley. Then UB40’s rats in the kitchen came on, and he continued his solo waltz around the store.
When you come to the Oasis on the Georgetown-Lethem Road there is no telling who you might meet. Displaced Swiss tourists, a Banks beer truck driver, two English teachers from the U.K., a hippie reggae solo dancing dude, or you might even meet me desperately looking for someone to talk to while helping the local economy. If you come to the Oasis you will undoubtedly meet a different crew, but I guarantee they will be just as interesting.
They say if you stay in one place long enough, the world will pass you by. I only spent an evening at the Oasis Service Center and met quite a cast of colorful characters. This is why I love to travel. I love the Kaieteur Falls of the world, the Eiffel Towers, the Angkor Wats just as much as anyone. But I also love the dusty roads in the middle of nowhere inhabited by interesting human beings who won’t ignore you and sit three tables away. They will sit right across from you or invite you to their table and a conversation will ensue that you will remember warmly for the rest of your life.
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Great post Ted. You managed to put into words one of the most magical parts of traveling, the unpredictable moments of chance that could never be scheduled on an itinerary. All we can do is leave ourselves open to the possibilities and enjoy the ride.
Erika recently posted..Six reasons to stay in a hostel on your next trip
This was one of those nights that just turned into magic, and I really thought it would be boring. I had already resigned myself to not having a good time.
As someone who has witnessed firsthand the ease with which you make friends in far-flung parts of the world, I loved this post.
To have the experiences like I had in Asia, you really have to be in a traveling zone. It takes a while to settle into it and it is hard to do on a week vacation. I did manage a few moments on this trip. It definitely makes me long for more long term travel.
And THIS is what travel is all about. Sure, you were in the middle of nowhere and bored. However, you won’t forget these experiences with people. That is what mattered. You connected with them and have stories to tell. This place could have been really boring but after meeting some locals, you now have a story to tell and an experience you won’t forget.
Jeremy Branham recently posted..2013 New Year’s resolutions, travel plans, and a look ahead
I knew you would appreciate this one Jeremy. I know we see eye-to-eye on what is best about travel.
I think dropping the F bomb totally made this post extraordinary for me. Well done, sir.
Leah Travels recently posted..Umbria, Italy: Cook, Eat, Drink, and Repeat
I am not one to flippantly use F-bombs in either conversation or my blog. In fact, this might be the first time it has appeared in almost 500 posts. . . Well, I take that back, it probably has reared its ugly head before; however, there are times that PG-13 words just do not cut it.
The beer, $7 meal, and the two lady friends sounds good…nice photos as well.
Charles Higgins recently posted..Eight MGM Resorts offer free Wi-Fi on the Las Vegas Strip
Definitely did not turn out as boring as I pictured it to be.
Ha, love this. It goes to show that people is what make a destination alive. And what a strange/unexpected mix of nationalities, huh?
@mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Mrs. O goes around Europe to start 2013
That is pretty much the definition of Guyana. A strange mix, but it works.
MJ often makes fun of my ability to make conversation with strangers. Oftentimes, they make the best memories. Of course, I’d have got annoyed with the guys sitting next to me in an empty restaurant…
D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Gone Shrimpin’ Aboard The Lady Jane
I did for a second, but then I remembered I was not in the USA. Plus, no one ever solo travels to not meet anyone.
Funny how Bob Marley seems to play everywhere, right?
I love this aspect of traveling – meeting people from all over the world. No one is afraid to talk to one another and connections are made. It’s incredible. Yet, here at home, that isn’t always as easy. Strange…
The World Wanderer recently posted..Finding the Joy in Winter.
It is not as easy to get out of your comfort zone at home for some reason. If you go out alone in the USA, people think you are weird, so I usually only go out with friends and remain in that zone.
What an amazing adventure!
Love it when people show up and make your life brighter! It’s like they were godsent 😉
Bob Marley’a music makes you smile & dance.
Happy travels 😉
It was a magical evening that was unexpected.
I laughed out loud when I saw the f- bomb but I can just feel the length of the night in the middle of nowhere when you used that word!! It looks like you’ve done your bit for the economy and had some great conversation to boot.
We had a similar experience hiking in the wilderness. My husband and I had stopped to catch our breath and next thing you know we were surrounded – quite literally by about 15 Koreans. We have such different ideas about personal space but it end up being quite funny – and memorable.
Leigh recently posted..The Search for Alberta’s Snowy Owls
It may be the first f-bomb on my site, but in this case I did not think just boring would capture the way I felt.
we’re particularly proud of you for waking up at 7 am after a long day of beer drinking.
the lazy travelers recently posted..celebrate, good times, mmhmm.
With the Bob Marley blasting I had no choice. Plus, it was kind of a long night.
Interesting the people you meet even in the middle of nowhere
Fiona recently posted..Prague: A Real Winter Wonderland
Sure is. I would have never expected it.
This is exactly what makes travel fun: the unexpected. I once visited a small mom-and-pop chateau in Bordeaux, thinking a tasting and a goodbye and the couple who owned it sat down with us, opened a bottle and we talked for a couple of hours. 7 years later I returned and the woman, though she did not recognize me, knew I was telling the truth when I said I’d been there before as I re-told them many of the things they had shared. Another bottle opened that day!
Raul (@ilivetotravel in Twitter) recently posted..The pursuit of a good cocktail begins!
That is always a blast re-visiting old haunts. Someday I will return to the Oasis, but I probably won’t run into any of these characters except maybe the reggae dude.
The moral of the story – don’t be annoyed at strangers, they might be beer distributors. 😉 But seriously – sometimes travel is not just about seeing sights, it’s about connecting with people. For as long as you’re in their company. Great story, Ted!
Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Highlights of Ensenada, Baja California
This is a nice experience for you on the road Ted. I would welcome the beermen the same way you did and learn perhaps, how the trade is and why the beer’s moniker is Banks 🙂
But the two ladies were gracious as they spent hours talking about Guyana. I know, by the looks you had on your photo together that you were enjoying the banter and the exchange of ideas.
Keep the stories coming Ted. 🙂
Yes Doc, I should have tried to get more info out of the beer guy. My first question would be how did he get such a great job.
I enjoyed their company. They were fellow travelers. Always great to met kindred souls.