We’re hosting guests from overseas. They’re Guyanese who have not been “home” in perhaps a decade. They don’t want to appear obvious so they have tried very hard to “blend in” (their words). But they don’t. The short pants reveal pale legs that have obviously not seen real Guyana sun in a long time. And the sandals are a dead giveaway. Guyanese don’t really walk about in short pants and sandals – except maybe on Mash Day; and even then they would pair the shorts with boots or slippers.
So they’re shopping at Bourda Market while we walk a few paces behind and pretend we don’t know them – we want to see how well their disguises work. They don’t. We have to call it off at the first stall where they’re about to be robbed blind. What is wrong with some people? Okay, we know you’re standing out there in the sun and rain selling for a living, but don’t try to get rich quick by passing off half-rotten fruit you have hidden at the bottom of the heap! And for the same price too! Shame on you! For heaven’s sake, if you know you can’t sell it, buy less or put it on sale before it expires – that way at least you will still recover some of what you spent.
Our faith in our countrymen/women is restored almost immediately when at the next stall, the vendor is engaging, gregarious. She extols the virtues of the mangoes, pineapples, oranges, sapodillas, avocadoes that she has for sale. The tangerines she says are not that sweet and the genips are “so-so; dey sweet, but they not melting.” She means the flesh needs a bit of work to come off the seed. Asked if she grows any of the fruit she sells she says no, but she buys from “regulars” – so she knows what she’s getting.
This fruit vendor is a ‘frontline’ person. By the time she’s finished explaining/educating about which fruit should be purchased from the East Coast and which from the West Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice, you feel you can’t leave unless you buy – you want to taste it all. And she was spot on. The fruit was as she described – “juicy, so-so, should wait a day before eating”; she was right every time. She could seriously sell Guyana.
Unfortunately most tourists will not come into contact with her. But they might come into contact with that sneaky waiter at a popular nightspot who tries to scam patrons. Possibly, he gets away with it sometimes. For instance, he served guests rum and coconut water when they had ordered Hennessy, collected his tip then disappeared.
Then there’s the popular hotel where there are seemingly no mosquitoes, but ‘things’ still bit a guest at night. To their credit, the staff very quickly moved the guest to a different room and the guest had no further nighttime occurrences. But one hopes they fumigated that bed before they sold that room to some other unsuspecting guest. From the red marks on that guest’s skin, there were biting, creepy crawlies in there.
We suppose it takes all sorts, but we wish people would take a bit more pride in what they are selling. It’s not just the fruit, the food, the drinks or the room, folks. You’re selling goodwill, yourselves, your company and your country. Think about it!