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Ted Sabat – Notes from Guyana

Ted Sabat, who lives in Guyana, dropped us a note, story and travel tips all rolled into one –

I must be one of your oldest active members at 61 years. Still active is the “Word” since I started my adventure travels in 1951, when my mother took me from London to spend a year in Berlin. That installed in me the sense of adventure on a shoestring as we went…. “Looking for money” not your normal traveller that fills his pockets before he sets off.

Then returning to London it was time to join the Boy Scouts (Cubs) and that put fuel to the fire. I loved the outdoors life, campfire cooking, sleeping rough, bathing in the river and ghost stories under the star lit sky.

Time to learn a trade, UK’s first technical training school in NW8 Kynaston Boys, was just opening. Go for it evening clubs included making Kayaks, and that only made my urges worse. Now I had to find rapids to “Run” down. At 15 I joined the Army and as the only black kid there in Carlisle (AAS Carlisle — R.E.M.E. training school) it was rough. Five kids hung themselves during the three-year full (live in) course.

As all these white kids kept chasing me to beat me, (I was a coward at that time), I became a very fit runner, played hockey for an active 21 years, and was in the Army trials for the 1964 Olympic Games.

When I became a champion runner and a star hockey player the racial discrimination stopped and I left as the Top boy after three years in one of the best training schools in the world.

All this active training, now at the age of 18 what to do with it? Put it on hold as I still had six more years in Her Majesty’s Forces to serve (well really 9 more but I got out after 6). During that time I had to spend a year fighting on “Active Service” in………..The Borneo Jungle of all places. Like my destiny was being laid out before me. After buying myself out of the R.E.M.E. seriously trained and highly skilled I was ready for any part of the world. First choice (because I wanted to find my Dad) was West Africa, but that idea was side tracked by this beautiful young lady that I met at my mum’s house in West London W12. She was from a place called Guyana ? Never heard of it.
Checked the maps and asked around, turns out that it was (and still is) the only English speaking country in South America, is the size of the U.K but has less than one million people. They live on the 15 mile wide coastal strip and the remainder of the country is …..”Amazon Jungle.”…

Wow ! Could this be my place of rest I asked myself, and with this gorgeous girl, was my guardian angle telling me something?

I had my colour, spoke English, my skills and my girl……….Go for it. So in 1971 I came to Guyana, ( a country of six races) for a four-week vacation, just to look around, and stayed for 35 years.

At first I put down on a house, and worked on the Coast in the capital Georgetown, at the Technical Institute, then had the opportunity to travel twice a month, more into the interior to the Bauxite mining town of Linden (Formally Mackenzie). Here the starting salary was lower than mine in Georgetown but the prospects were better, so I applied and secure a teaching job at their Trade School. Technical teaching in Guyana is far more hands —on, and practical than in the UK and they use City and Guilds of London exams. Linden is the gateway to the vast uninhabited interior, where the few people there are Gold and Diamond miners timber cutters and fishermen on the rivers who live on the hundreds of fresh water islands with white sand beaches.

I heard the fantastic stories all the time of the massive gold “Shouts” and I saw some of the diamonds. I was just forty miles away from these places, so one long weekend I asked a friend if I could have a taste of this adventure to see for myself if all these fantastic stories are true. In exchange I would repair any vehicle that broke down (as they frequently do) on the way. Boots n All, this is the real thing, this is the life, just bring a spade, a gold pan and a sieve.

After that weekend I was hooked, the ”Gold bug” got me, it’s a little bug that does not bite under your skin, but eats into your brain, and is fed by other people’s “Shouts”.

Look up the records and you will see that Guyana is way down near the bottom of the tables for minerals such as Gold and diamonds, that is because most of the finds are never declared or recorded and smuggled out. Well what do I do now, you will be asking? See Yahoo home page and at the search window click on the “Images “ tag and search for Rainbow River at Marshall Falls Guyana (my 5 page 15 year old website just got stolen (back) by AOL.), where when I have the time I relax in my hammock on my 17,000 acre Conservation area. More details on request.
The moral to this tale is:- don’t let the opportunities that ‘Boots n All’ gives you to travel the world meeting members go to waste. Don’t treat it as just a year off work, but a foundation for your future.

By Ted Sabat.