New Amsterdam is one of Guyana’s largest towns. It comprises of 3 main roads parallel to each other with numerous tiny streets linking these roads. The town is 3kms long and half a kilometer wide with a population of around 30,000.
The largest industry here is Christianity. Main Street boasts of 8 churches – Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Anglican and even Ethiopian Orthodox to name a few. Even though some of these Churches date back to the 19th century, it is a bit disappointing that none of them are worth writing home about. Given the popularity of Churches, it was ironic that Church View Hotel (where I spent the night) was located bang across the only Mosque in town.
Church hopping helps you build up quite an appetite and the (always) enterprising Chinese community stepped in to fill that gap. They might’ve taken it a bit to far. Chinese restaurants are second only to Churches by number. From the swanky and suspiciously quick Sue Brothers to the not so well informed Hong Kong Great Wall restaurant, your Chow Mein craving will not go unsatisfied.
Apart from Churches and Chinese restaurants, there’s absolutely nothing to do here. Local youth, presumably bored from the lack of entertainment carted a few speakers onto the road and turned up the volume. Armed with beers, a small crowd gathered to investigate. In line with Guyanese tradition, no song was allowed to play for longer than a minute. If that wasn’t bad enough, the DJ refused to let any song play uninterrupted for 10secs – saying something incomprehensible (I’ve got to work on my Creolese) on the mic.
The most memorable part of a trip to New Amsterdam is definitely the mini-van ride. From the music to the conductor to the interactions between passengers – it’s all so refreshingly different from everywhere else in the world that if you can get past the crazy driving, you might actually enjoy the flavor of Guyana that gets served up to you here. However, if you do end up waking up early and think of catching a 5$ bus from Georgetown to New Amsterdam, I would highly recommend suppressing that feeling of irrational impulsiveness. Although New Amsterdam is one of the Guyana’s largest towns, it’s definitely not built to be a tourist destination.