The next morning we gathered our things, said goodbye to the Paraguay folks (very sad to say goodbye to one in particular, a very fun woman who bonded with all us Guyana folks the nights before), and drove out to the airport. This was as far as the trainers could take us, so we sent our bags through security, then gathered together to play Uno and eat our last American meals for a couple hours before the BWIA flight arrived. The flight itself went well, and during some of it we could even see various Caribbean nations as we flew over, like Puerto Rico. The highlight for me was looking out the starboard window and seeing St. Lucia stretched out before me. I pointed out to my seat neighbor the very peninsula where Vieux Fort was (see previous entry, "Memories of Dominica"). It was an odd moment -- nostalgic, in a way, but no longer did it hold the same sort of regret as it previously did. Yes, I do miss training there and all my friends, and feel sad that I couldn't have forged on to create more memories with them. But I finally felt that at the very least I was moving on.
We stopped over in Barbados to refuel, but sadly it was after dark and we couldn't leave the plane anyway, so I can only say I've technically been to Barbados. Then we made the short flight to Guyana, coming in so late that we couldn't see any of the country, only strings of lights in the dark. As we disembarked, we stepped out into the humid, buzzing air of Guyana, and my first thought was, "Welcome Home." This is to be our home for two years! Great moths flitted in the tall lamps of the airport (at first we thought they were bats). The air was heavy and moist. It felt to me very much like a Tallahassee summer, so at least I was prepared to some extent -- not so, the people from Colorado or Maine!
We weren't bothered with through customs -- no tedious searching of bags. Instead, we were led out to waiting buses and welcomed by several current PCVs. Nobody I had previously met online were among them, but they were a very friendly and welcoming sort. We loaded ourselves and all our stuff into four buses and were hurled through the dark Guyanese night from the airport toward our destination, a hotel in Georgetown. My first impression was that it looked identical in every way to St. Lucia or Dominica, except for the distinct absence of hills and the equally distinct presence of loose cows wandering the roadside. They would pass in and out of our bus headlamps for just a moment as we raced by, great black bulks them resting in drives or ditches or just out of front rum shops. Nobody seemed to pay them any mind. In America, specifically Texas, loose cattle would be a massive problem, but here evidently they are cut loose to self-graze until their owner needs them, at which time presumably he goes looking for them. Horses seem to be the same story. Dogs wander about, of course, homeless and in a sad state, but that is the same in any Caribbean nation. In all, there seem to be a good number of animals here, moving in and around and about human affairs all day. The Guyanese could be said to live side-by-side with animals: cows, cats, dogs, horses, chickens, you-name-it.
Up next: Orientation, and the first two days in Guyana.