Homes, Houses, and Living in Guyana

We were lucky to see and visit many places during our August 2000 visit.  Here are some pictures of places people live in Guyana.

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A typical house is made of wood or cement.  Cement is less common, but becoming trendy.  Tropical hardwoods like "green hart" make excellent termite repellent structures, but they don't seem to hold paint real well.  Many home owners don't bother with paint.

Some houses have water and electricity, but there are no public sewers.  Most houses have an "outhouse" for a bathroom.  In the picture above, you see Vijay and Victoria unlocking an outhouse.  Note the mud bottom, or "mud daub" ground.  Mud bottom is a ground covering that keeps dust down.

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The house is usually up on stilts to avoid flooding and snakes.  The "bottom-house" is a cool place to hang-out in the heat.  Hammocks are favorite accessories.  The bottom-house is also a storage place and garage.  Typically, the garden and chicken coop aren't too far from the bottom-house.

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The inside of houses varied considerably, depending on wealth.  Many had electricity.  Many had gas from a refillable tank.  In the city, some even had water from a public supply.  In the picture above left, friend Veno shows off a mosquito net; notice Elizabeth and Victoria under the net.  Mosquito nets are essential, especially if the house doesn't have screens.  And when windows don't have screens, more than just mosquitoes visit at night!  In the picture on the right, Elizabeth and Victoria are visiting a young lady's kitchen at Abary Creek.  This kitchen has no water, electricity or gas (not to mention a microwave & freezer!)

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In the picture on the left above, you can see a "rich person's house."  The farm machinery in the yard and the tall painted house are a dead give-away of wealth.  On the right, is a home on the Essequibo River.  Inland living is frequently near a body of water or a main road, as these offer a mode of transport.  Farther down the Essequibo, we saw homes fashioned from 40ft and 20ft shipping containers at mine sites.  Anything will work in a pinch!

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On the left are some nice houses on a "Sugar Estate."  The large black containers between the houses store rain water.  The rain water drains from the roof to the bottom tank, and is then pumped to the top tank for pressurized delivery.  As these houses have electricity, they have electric pumps.  Houses without electricity have manual pumps.  The orange house on the right is Vijay's birth house in Alness Village, Corentyne.  There are no water tanks.  Although Vijay didn't remember the house, she can remember the dreadful chore of carrying water from the well at the town center.

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The house above is on the Blairmont Sugar Estate.  Estate houses are owned and maintained by the Sugar Estate (Plantation), and then leased to Estate managers as a benefit.  Someone like a "Field Manager" would live in this house.  Notice the piles of grass cuttings.  Field workers cut the grass by hand.  This particular house dates back to the days of British occupation.  It was built with European standards of comfort.  We were lucky enough to stay in several Estate houses; it's definitely the way to go!

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In town, many homes have a store-front, or "shop."  Shops sell common goods just like a "zippy mart" in the USA.  However, there's typically also a bench and table to facilitate socialization.  In the picture on the left, family members are "banking at the shop."   "Banking" refers to "Banks Beer," the local libation which costs about 30 cents per bottle in US dollars.  On the right, Victoria, Elizabeth, and Tom are waiting for take-out dinner at Sue Brothers restaurant.  Like the shops, the owners live in the same building.  The tall bench with several seating levels is quite common.  Many homes with shops sport these tall benches to facilitate socialization during the slow time of day.   As you might imagine, the Guyanese know how to relax!