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John Gimlette's Voyages

The Secret Side of Guyana

Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana

 I was always sorry to be leave Georgetown. Somehow, the city had created the illusion of familiarity. Within a few weeks I’d acquired somewhere to live and a few friends, and I had a rough idea of where everything was.

Guyana, and its Plague of Jaguars

Jaguar skins hanging up in a ranch in the southern savannahs

 This is a sad sight, a row of jaguar skins, hanging up in a ranch in the southern savannahs. No-one likes to see big cats killed, especially when they're listed as endangered.

How can a place like Guyana keep itself safe?

Mabaruma Police Station and Magistrate Court

This is the little police station in Mabaruma, in NW Guyana. Near the border with Venezuela, this town is relatively peaceful, and the police didn't seem to have a great deal to do. But it was still a skeletal service; the officers' uniforms were old, and the badges held on with safety pins.

Guyana's Parliament of Ants

Church on Flag Island Essequibo River

At the far end of Flag Island on the River Essequibo there's this long brick hall (see photo). It has tall, shuttered windows, the bell-tower of a little church and the body of a warehouse. Forts aside, it's probably the oldest building in Guyana. Inside there was a large expanse of flagstones, a cluster of well-laureled tombs, and a colony of bats.

Should rackling be an Olympic sport?

Rackling Competitor

Should rackling be an Olympic sport? if it was, Guyana would carry off all the golds.

For outsiders, this is one of the most mysterious aspects of the country. The sport is simple; you put a tiny bird in a cage and coax it to sing. And this is serious business too.

The men who betrayed Guyana's greatest revolt

Boat (Miss Sonia) on the Berbice River

Today, the Berbice River is calm and peaceful (see photo). But exactly 250 years ago, the Dutch were beginning to take control of the revolt along its banks. As they did so, they discovered that some of the most important rebels were changing sides ....

Guyana's great uprising comes to an end

Berbice River

This year sees the 250th anniversary of the end of the Berbice Revolt. By October 1763, much of this river (see photo) was under the control of the slaves. The Dutch garrison was overwhelmed with disease, and - just for a moment - it had looked as if one of the greatest revolts in slavery's history might just succeed.

What's the greatest waterfall in the world?

John Gimlette at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

It may not be the biggest or the highest, or the most watery, but - for my money - it has to be the Kaieteur Falls (Guyana).

I flew up there once, on a day tour from Georgetown. After a while, you get to the upper reaches of the Potaro. This river itself would have been worth the trip, like a gorgeous seam of folded jet. But then suddenly it just ended. It poured over a lip, and vaporised as it fluttered away into a deep abyss. The Falls. 

Shakespeare and Guyana

Flag Island, Essequibo, Guyana

Today is the bard's 450th birthday. Had he ever heard of South America's 'Wild Coast'?

Undoubtedly, yes. In 1595, when Shakespeare was aged 31, and at the height of his creative powers, Sir Walter Raleigh published his great prospectus, "The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empire of Guiana".

The old New Amsterdam Hospital

The old New Amsterdam Hospital

Here is one of my favourite buildings in Guyana; the old hospital in New Amsterdam. Sadly, it was pulled down a few months after I took this photograph, but here is what I wrote about it in 'Wild Coast':-

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