Digital Guyana

Posts Tagged ‘kitty

Matt and me bought a guitar in downtown Georgetown a few weeks ago.

Kitty the guitar

As you can see, it’s a peculiar, rustic looking thing. We were informed by the seller that it was locally made but that the guy who crafted it is now dead. Whether that makes it cursed we’re not sure – though Matt does like to describe it as the evil twin of the resonator guitar from the cover of Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms album.

Despite this, it plays pretty nicely – even if the action (the distance from the fretboard to the strings) is way too high further up the fretboard – and it’s been great having it in the flat. We can’t get the TV and DVD player to work and Matt and myself both play in bands (although I play the bass) so the practice time has been handy.

Matt’s off to Mexico after Guyana and plans to take ‘Kitty’ with him. I hope it survives the trip there and the subsequent flight back to London. Matt loves his flamenco so he’s going to put nylon strings on it and see how that sounds. If it’s not as good as his classical guitar back in London (which he suspects it won’t be) then I get to keep it. Fingers crossed. I’m getting quite attached to it.

Tonight Matt’s going to play a couple of tunes at an open mic / performance poetry night. Expect a blog post about that in the next couple of days. In the meantime, in the spirit of making lists for no good reason other than it’s sometimes fun to, here’s the five tunes you’re most likely to hear if you drop by Lot 6D Station Street in Kitty…

1. Hey Hey, My My
It feels like loads of my friends have suddenly really got into Neil Young in the last couple of years. I’m not complaining – the guy is a genius. Different versions of this tune bookend his ace live album Rust Never Sleeps and is one of my – and Matt and Pontus’s – faves.

2. Waterfall
I endlessly played this technicoloured baggy ballad by the Stone Roses during my teenage years so I guess it was inevitable it would pop back into my head during my time here. Guyana means The Land of Many Waters after all. Once I’d worked it out again I taught Pontus, and in return he taught me Hey Hey, My My.

3. Don’t You Forget About Me / Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam
Glasgow band Simple Minds’ breakthrough single – which memorably soundtracks the bratpack classic The Breakfast Club – happens to have the same chords (we think) as this tune by the much more obscure Glaswegian indie band The Vaselines (you might know Nirvana’s cover from their Unplugged  in New York album), so a rendition of one inevitably turns into the other – and back again.

4. Folsom Prison Blues
He may look like a malnourished Mexican bandito but Matt’s voice is unexpectedly full-bodied. Part Johnny Cash part Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode, it’s no surprise he can pull off this blues stomper from the Man In Black with aplomb.

5. The Needle And The Damage Done
What can I say, we’re big Neil Young fans.

Every Wednesday after finishing our workshops me and the guys have walked back to our flats in Kitty via the National Park to get our weekly sporting fix. Nope, not cricket. Ultimate Frisbee.

For the last while (no one’s sure how long exactly) overseas volunteers from orgs including VSO and Peace Corps have gathered each week to play this high-octane game until the sun goes down over Georgetown’s sea wall. More recently, numbers have been swelled by local kids Ronaldo, Nicholas and Chris, who have picked up the sport with impressive ease.

I’ve always enjoyed chucking a Frisbee in the park with a few mates – who doesn’t? – but was deeply suspicious of a sport that came with the prefix ‘ultimate’ (in fact, the sport is now just called Ultimate after legal action from the Wham-O company who own the trademark for Frisbee). How wrong I was.

After just a few minutes of dodging flailing elbows, getting some serious airtime and chasing the plastic (that’s not Ultimate lingo by the way, I just made that up) I was hooked. The rules are a combination of American Football and netball (you can’t run when you have the frisbee), but it’s far superior to either of those sports. What’s more, like football, all you need is the ball (or in this case, frisbee), a stretch of grass and a few people to play.

As you can see from my video above, our standard of play is hardly world beating. But then we can claim local conditions as a major extenuating factor. Early morning deluges (we’re coming to the end of the rainy season here) mean that as well as keeping your eyes on the spinning disc that’s rapidly homing in on you, you better make sure you don’t wander – or slip on your arse – into one of the numerous muddy pools of water.

As well as the video, you can check out these pictures I’ve posted on Flickr. And while you’re on the site, have a look at our Digital Guyana group (or click on the sidebar on the right) where we’ve been adding all kinds of pics from our trip.

Station Street, Kitty

After a fairly gruelling journey on Friday, Pontus and I arrived in Georgetown in the early hours of Saturday. During the taxi ride from the airport we saw some crazy minibus driving, the Banks brewery and some beautiful, wooden, colonial-style houses – not a bad preview for what’s to come, I suspect.

The apartment is slightly better than expected, with a few mod-cons inside and a hammock out the back. Norma, who lives downstairs and looks after our flat, kindly cooked us breakfast on the first morning.

We then set off on a walking tour of the city to get a feel for our new surroundings. The centre of Georgetown isn’t quite what I expected – i’s not all that built up and the traffic on the roads is relatively light. Although it’s clearly not the welathiest city, there doesn’t seem to be too much disparity between the richest and poorest.

Matt and Hugh have been busy getting to know the local VSO contingent. On Saturday night we went out for food and drinks with a few of them (one of whom has been blogging since she arrived in Sept 07 – read Hannah’s blog here).

Yesterday (Sunday), we went to NCERD to check out the facilities for where we’ll be teaching over the coming weeks and to meet Jane, the person who first put forward the idea of a Web Skills project. Happily, everything seemed to be pretty much in order.

Afterwards we did some nature-spotting (which I’m sure will be explained in a later post) and dropped in at the swimming pool at a local hotel.

Today’s the first day of the course and our first students will be two groups of school students. This morning we’ll be teaching some basic HTML; after lunch we’re planning to have a preliminary discussion around social networking, kicking things off by watching Us Now.

We’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime I need to get my things together.

Oh, and if the picture accompanying this post doesn’t explain the title, we’re in a part of Georgetown called Kitty. You can see more pics on my Flickr account.