Dev and friends visiting Guyana

Planning a trip to Guyana from the US? Here is what you need to know

In preparation for Friends of Wallacea’s upcoming adventures to Guyana, we sat down with Guyanese American Devon Pierre to understand his perspective as a dual Guyanese/American citizen and the things he loves about both countries. 

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My name is Devon, and I grew up in Mahaicony, a small village in rural coastal Guyana. I spent most of my formative years learning the ins and outs of farming from my uncle. I now live in New York City, but I miss home every day. I firmly believe that Guyana is one of the best kept secrets in terms of ecotourism in the world. Not much is known about Guyana, even our close South American neighbors forget we exist, but a diamond hidden in the mud is still a diamond. I have been inspired to help protect this beauty and I’m currently on a mission to achieve a degree in Soil Science with a focus on agricultural sustainability against climate change.

Dev and friends US tourists visiting Guyana
Dev and his friends visiting Guyana

What do you think is the biggest cultural difference between Guyana and the United States?

My favorite is the Guyanese sense of humor. Guyanese people will find something to laugh about no matter the situation. It’s honestly great for easing tension most of the time. Though when it sometimes backfires, people think we’re being insensitive. 

A few years ago, my American friend was over at my house. My grandmother was in the kitchen calling up all her old lady friends to catch up and gossip about the grandchildren as usual. She would hang up one call, then go right into the next one. After a while, she reached a phone number that kept ringing and ringing. My grandmother then said out loud, “Well, she’s probably dead, so I’m definitely going to win.” My friend looked at me with a look of bewilderment and concern on his face. He probably thought she was crazy. He only recovered when both me and Grandma burst out laughing.

What do you miss the most about Guyana? 

I miss the food. If you go to and only do one thing, make sure that thing is to try all the food that will surely be forced on you. Guyanese culture is very diverse and mixed. We have flavors inherited from all corners of the world with a unique Guyanese twist. Try the iguana curry.

Guyana diaspora food
Due to its colonial heritage and diverse ethnic groups, Guyana has a rich and unique cuisine

What is your favorite Guyanese expression?

Guyanese expressions are almost always simple and to the point. You don’t get many lessons across to hard-headed children by telling long stories. One of my favorites is “wha sweet ah goat mouth does sour he backside”. For some reason, we have quite a few sayings having to do with goats. This one just means “After the sweetness comes the pain.” 

I love it because my uncle would always say it, but in a more literal sense. We had a goat out of the flock that would always try to eat the peppers we planted. Right after biting into a pepper, the goat would lock up and fall over, bleating as if it was dying. After a day or so, it would try again.

What is something uniquely Guyanese that you can’t find or see anywhere else? 

The natural beauty of Guyana is a thing to behold. Kaieteur Falls is simply magnificent; the sheer power and force you feel just standing nearby is a humbling experience. If you’ve ever wanted to walk along the canopy of a rainforest on a swaying suspension bridge, then you will find Iwokrama to be perfect. Visit the many, many islands of the Essequibo river; some of them even have small waterfalls. The closeness with nature’s beauty in Guyana is unmatched by anywhere else in the world.

Kaieteur Falls - Views around Guyana's Interior and rainforest. perfect for any tourist
Kaieteur Falls – Views around Guyana’s Interior and rainforest

What’s your favorite Guyanese wildlife you have gotten to see? 

At the risk of sounding like my crazy bird watching brother, I was in awe the first time I saw a cock-of-the-rock. My family had taken a trip to see the Kaieteur Falls, and while walking the trail up to the falls, a bright orange thing in the bushes caught my eye. It was the brightest, orangest thing I’ve ever seen. They’re beautiful birds; simple words cannot describe them effectively. 

cock of the rock guyana birdwatching tourism

What is your favorite spot around Georgetown that you’d take your friends to experience? 

I love going to the sea wall at night and listening to the waves crash against the rocks. You can also find people selling snacks and drinks. Sometimes there might be a man there selling beer with a projector playing old kung-fu movies. I don’t know his name but he provides a great service to the community. 

Unique architecture in Guyana's capital Georgetown
Unique architecture in Guyana’s capital Georgetown is fascinating for any tourist

What are the most interesting holidays/festivals to celebrate in Guyana? 

The most fun would be Mashramani (also called Mash). Mashramani is derived from an Amerindian language and means to celebrate after hard work. It’s a festival featuring steel pan music, marching bands, singing, intricate floats and people with even more intricate masquerade costumes. It’s a celebration of Guyana becoming a republic. Just imagine a giant countrywide party.

Mash is held every February 23rd!

What Guyanese food do you recommend every visitor tries?

Pepper pot is one of our national dishes., so it is a must. It’s a stew made from meat cooked in Cassareep. Cassareep is a thick syrupy liquid made from boiling the juices of bitter cassava (which is poisonous) until it becomes dark and almost black. This boiling of the liquid gets rid of the hydrogen cyanide, which naturally forms in the bitter cassava. After this you get two staple Guyanese products; Cassareep, and if you cook then dry the leftover squeezed cassava, you get cassava bread which goes well with the pepper pot. Also, don’t forget to try the iguana curry.

What’s your favorite time of year in Guyana?

Christmas in Guyana is something special. It’s much different than here in New York where I live now. The sense of togetherness and community really gets almost overbearing around that time at the end of the year. That’s also when the best food is cooked. According to my mother, it makes the dish more special if we only get it once a year. 

Any last advice to give someone traveling to Guyana?

  1. Try to make a local friend, someone who can show you the ins and outs of getting around easily. 
  2. It’s not as hot as you think it is.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try different things; you might be surprised to find that the really dark, almost pitch black river that someone is telling you to just jump into is actually quite cool and refreshing. 
  4. Expect to interact with nature and maintain your adventurous spirit, and you’ll find amazing experiences. 
Aerial View of Guyana's Amazon Rainforest, South America
Aerial View of Amazon Rainforest, South America

Curious about how you can visit Guyana and learn about Dev’s country? Book a trip with us and explore Guyana

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