On Wednesday, June 8th, we went to the Amerindian Museum in Georgetown. It is in a large white wooden building erected, like so many of the other structures in Georgetown, by the Dutch a long time ago. The Peace Corps vans drove us down there from the PC office and the facilitators took us inside. The museum was two-story, each floor comprising of a large open area with numerous glass cases of displays. Most of the displays on the ground floor consisted of pottery or woven baskets, and gave detailed accounts of how such items were created. They had some amazing hand baskets one slings from a shoulder, little numbers that bordered on purses, really. It was quite impressive.
My favorite, predictably, was the display on weaponry. The Amerindians like to use square clubs in warfare, the heads carved with intricate patterns. They also had a fine collection of bows and arrows. One bow is simply massive; in fact, it is so big the wielder must prop one end in the ground. Arrows for this bow were long and stout enough to practically qualify as spears -- just a little longer, and one might simply mount the bow on a cart and call it a ballista.
Upstairs was a collection of clothing, but I took a special interest in a nice display of Amerindian petroglyphs. They were duplicates of actual rock carvings, the swirling lines and dots filled in with colored paint to make them easier to see. I couldn't help but compare them to Hawaiian petroglyphs; not that they looked the same, but in my opinion there are some universal and unavoidable patterns that appear in carvings around the world. There are only so many ways one may carve a picture of a person into stone. The Amerindians used stick figures which bore some casual resemblance to ones I've seen from Hawai`i -- pinheads with broad shoulders sweeping down into triangular chests, torsos petering out into two splayed legs, crude arms often holding spears. Sometimes dots or circles will appear near the heads. Animals are also represented, usually in a little more detail. The snakes in these carvings were sinuous parallel lines which met in a diamond head. Monkeys were tiny, bent-over stick figures with spiral tails.
The visit to the Amerindian Museum probably would have had more meaning later in our training, but it was an excellent chance to see a little bit of Georgetown. Up until this point, we hadn't been much of anywhere by foot, only cruising past the various sites in a van. When we were finished, we walked the eight or so blocks back to the Peace Corps office, a walk which I found satisfying in a strange way. We were out in the sun, dodging traffic, walking under the great canopies of monkeypod trees (same ones I remember from Hawai`i!) and just physically experiencing Georgetown. A welcome exertion.