*CAUTION! THIS POST IS VERY LONG AND MAY CONTAIN SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF WAFFLE AND DRIVEL.*
Thursday 20th August 2015 –
“One small step for Doug, one giant leap for a kid who hasn’t left Europe before”. I proclaimed, echoing Neil Armstrong in a slightly long winded manner. I’d arrived in Guyana, one of the last bastions of uncivilised society in a world of an ever increasing number of people who claim to be omniscient. The natives bowed before my unknowable majesty and daughters were offered as a sacrifice to appease his Godlike wrath. My name might as well have been Zeus. Or not.
In reality, my arrival was a tad less grand. Let’s go back a bit though, shall we?
After a relatively uninspiring afternoon in London of taking in the sights (I may have been slightly too tired to appreciate everything) I set off the next morning for Guyana. Once I had finished struggling to find where in St Pancras the train to Gatwick left from, I eventually reached the airport to the sweet relief of waiting, a bit more waiting, and some waiting with a cherry on top.
Just queuing to check in by itself took over an hour, caused by the connection to the passport validation server being broken. This was followed by about an hour waiting for the gate number to appear, and then a couple of hours waiting for the time on the screen to change when the gate number did not pop up. By two o’clock, everyone was a bit sick of seeing that the gate info would be ready at 11:35.
By four o’clock, even the information desk workers were resigned to the fact that we would be stuck at the airport overnight. Everyone was pretty annoyed, and by this time it was becoming almost certain that I would miss my connecting flight in Trinidad and Tobago. As everybody queued up at the desk to receive our free meal tickets though, the call came in; the plane had landed and we were all to rush to the gate, without delay.
After a leisurely detour to the bathroom (completely necessary, I assure you) I arrived at the gate with the rest of the exasperated passengers. The reasoning behind the rush was that the flight staff might not have enough hours available for the flight; they had just flown from Trinidad and Tobago after all. In addition, the aircraft was also waiting for a part to be delivered. I’m pretty sure it was a phylange.
Three hours later, after several drawn out updates from the captain which had suggested we weren’t going to fly, we set off. Apparently the air crew “felt sufficiently rested” and wish to fly. Their reactions to the news said it all. For me, this just meant I would be stuck in Trinidad and Tobago instead.
The flight itself was relatively uneventful and after (hopefully) successfully explaining to a kid that you can’t really grab clouds, and that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to try, everybody made themselves comfortable and settled in for the night. It wasn’t the end though. Despite arriving in Trinidad and Tobago at 4 o’clock British time, those of us going to Guyana were found a flight to transfer onto. Too tired to do anything other than obey commands, we stepped on and were swiftly relocated to Georgetown.
Contrary to my fears, customs was a breeze, and thanks to some help from a fellow delayed passenger, I was found a reputable taxi driver. Well, a taxi driver at any rate. Thus proceeded the most frightening car journey of my life.
Speeding along about twice as fast as anyone else on the road, I sat scared shitless out if my mind as he weaved and wiggled between different potholes and spent more time over the other side of the road than ours. With each game of chicken I felt that everything was going to end. With each slowing for a bump or an animal, I was sure that I was going to be kidnapped and bundled away, or just robbed of all possessions. This was how all the stories I was told on the flight affected me.
Thankfully, half an hour later we arrived at my guesthouse, unscathed. As I passed my taxi fee to Raj, he asked, “No tip?”. With no other money prepared I slunk through the door to the guesthouse, merely thankful I was still alive. A grand arrival, all in all. Fit for a king. Or Zeus.