- Book: “Wild Coast – Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge”
- Author: John Gimlette
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011
Guyana – is one of the least known countries in South America. In fact, many people do not even know where exactly on the map Guyana is located – some guess maybe in Africa, while others think it’s somewhere in Oceania, maybe next to Australia. Guayana, and her neighboring sisters – Suriname and French Guiana, are very much different from other South American countries, and not just by the fact that all three of them speak different languages, and none of them speak Spanish or Portuguese.
This book, called “Wild Coast – Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge” by John Gimlette, offers a unique perspective from someone who traveled through Guayana (as well as Suriname and French Guiana) and lived there for three months. Filled with personal accounts of meeting and interacting with the locals, as well as some very interesting information about the history of the three countries, this book will definitely help you see “Guayanas” in a new light, and that is especially useful if you are planning a trip there.
For example, one of the things that the author talks about is the infamous Jonestown tragedy that happened there. It is not an easy story to tell, and one that many people would rather never hear about, however it is part of Guyana’s history and will always be. Other things that are discussed in the book are related to Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana’s history – from the early past to the most recent present. The book provides a very good and solid overview of how these countries came to be, what were the major historic events that shaped them, as well as more recent conversations with the local inhabitants to help one understand these countries better. Here’s one short excerpt from the book:
“Bullied almost all the way to university, Lorlene realised that Canada was not for her. She decided to return to Guyana.
‘I got back eleven years ago’, she said, ‘and realised I’d missed it every day.’ For a moment there were shoots of genuine happiness. Lorlene married, Floyd was born, and she threw herself into politics. She joined the AFC – Alliance for Change – a party whose novel claim was to represent all the different races. Soon, she became a member of parliament, and her bill for the abolition of corporal punishment was enthusiastically received. But this was a Guyanese tale, so it was bound to end in surprises. First, her husband was killed by one of the country’s only sports cars, and then her bill began to fall apart. ‘The ruling party killed it off’, she told me; ‘they weren’t going to be told what to do by someone they saw as skinny, Canadian and AFC. I hated politics. It was so futile. There was nothing we could do.'” (p. 21)
Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana are fascinating countries that deserve a closer study, and perhaps more Worldwide attention that is currently given to them. All three are very interesting, though somewhat unexplored, and this book is a very good overview for anyone interested in learning more about them.