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Day 9: The fishermen of Georgetown/ Mission accomplished

Saturday, 15th March 2020

We get up at 4 a.m. Luke’s at the door at 5. Our last day, and we want to go out to sea with the shrimp fishermen to capture their angle on the country and the oil. Their 30 small boats are moored at a lock. Preparations are still taking place and it’s eight o’ clock before Denis, Tom and I climb into the boat holding a crew of three. The little outboard engine takes us to the posts rammed into the sea bed off the coast. Hungry seagulls and frigates are waiting on them and two pelicans stop by every so often. The fishermen cast 8 nets. We try and understand what we’re being told, but the creole dialect only allows us a guess. After a sign things continue and now the men fish by hand with a line, catching a few small catfish for supper, plus two stingrays that are returned to the water. A Portuguese man o’ war swims past once in a while and later one of the fishermen comes into contact with a jellyfish arm in the net and winces with pain.

Not many shrimps are caught today. But this seems to be enough for the fishermen and on this scale is probably still sustainable. When asked whether this is hard work, the answer is no, but life on the water under the fierce equatorial sun has its price. And judging by the age of the men, quite a few of them are presumably beyond the retirement limit. Not much money is earned, the condition of the boats is proof enough, but it’s sufficient to survive. An oil spill would mean the end of these people’s livelihood and with no hope of appropriate compensation. Sadly, we have no more time for the following interview, as Denis and I must pack – the plane is waiting.

Airial view of Georgetown
Last look at Georgetown from the plane – as we check-in, we’re asked in view of Corona, when we were last in Germany.

We’re very glad to be able to travel to Barbados today - Germany is not on the list of countries refused entry. Despite a waiting list, our return flight on a full plane two days later goes well and we make it just in time back to Germany. Tom likewise, we’re all home before the borders are closed. Healthy, tired, bursting with impressions of an exciting country and with new approaches for our campaign, we return home. Guyana has to live with immense poverty and poor education, it’s been short-changed by Exxon, is going through a difficult, political period and above all: is in great danger!