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Few visitors are likely to make non-essential shopping a priority in Guyana, as the country's main attractions are the remote, wild, natural, and uncommercial rainforests and savannahs of the country's interior (and all the animals that call that place home).
For those with practical and immediate needs upon arrival in Georgetown, "Office Max" (no connection to the North American chain) handles a wide selection of dry goods, Nigels is a good spot for groceries, and Guyana Stores on Water Street has an ecclectic, department-store style selection of clothing and basic lifestyle items. Countless apothecary shops sell western-standard toiletries and pharmaceuticals, many of which require prescriptions in North America and the UK but are over-the-counter here (quality cannot be assured, however).
Outbound visitors with last-minute souvenir shopping needs may want to head over to the kiosks across the street from the national Post Office on Robb Street where a number of vendors sell heavily-marked-up Caribbean and Amerindian items and Guyana-flag branded items. There are also a few shops in the departure area of Cheddi Jagan International Airport, including two duty-free liquor shops staffed (seemingly 24/7) by the teams from the two big distilleries, Banks and Demerrara Distillers Ltd (DDL). Here you can find decent prices on Guyana's main souvenir, top-quality rum, however experience has shown that the premium bottles (i.e. ElDorado 15, 21, and 25 year) are essentially sold at a constant price the world over. Keep an eye out for small 'dram' size bottles of ED15 at the DDL store at the airport. These are fun little hand-out gifts that are nearly impossible to find outside that one store.
Some of the lodges in Guyana's interior sell authentic, handmade Amerindian crafts. For example at Maipaima eco-lodge near Nappi Village (outside Lethem) you can purchase handmade balata figurines from Guy Fredericks and his family. Surama Eco Lodge in the Iwokrama rain forest has a small counter selling a variety of Makushi items, ranging from small weavings, paintings, and sometimes some home-bottled honey collected by local beekeeper Glen Allicock. On occasion they have copies of a CD containting the Surama Makushi Group's traditional chants and songs, and there is a plan to get those tracks for sale on Amazon and iTunes this year.
Rock View Lodge in Annai has a good selection of locally produced carvings, balata sculptures, some paitings, and a few Rock-View-Lodge branded items in the central benab (t-shirts, bags, etc). They sometimes also sell their home made achar (mango pickle), hot sauce, and honey, all of which are real treats.
The provision shop in Bina Hill is a bit of a 'bush store' and one of the few places where you can get your hands on a truly hand-made Makushi blowgun or bow and arrow. An unpredictable schedule next door at the women's cooperative will thwart most passers-by, but it is sometimes possible to purchase hand made soaps and oils from the hard-working crew that runs this micro enterprise (their products sometimes appear at the Rock View Lodge gift counter).
There are a few items for sale at the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway's "Atta Lodge" and also at the Iwokrama River Lodge... if you see something you like at one of these sparsely stocked gift counters, grab it. You probably won't run across the items again.
With a little persuasion you can get the staff at the very-remote Rewa Eco-Lodge to bring out a box or two of locally produced weavings, carvings, paintings, and samples of their own unique style of simple embroidered landscape and nature scenes. Marcilene, Rudy, and Dicky are not ones to push sales of sourvenirs so you may need to coax them to to show you what they have for sale (what a change from most places!) and then you'll find yourself lost in a tangle of what things cost since nothing is marked. Be generous: this is one of the few sources of cash for this village.
People interested in purchasing gold in Guyana will find numerous outlets in the capital Georgetown and even a few in the frontier town of Bartica south of the capital on the Essequibo river. The new reality TV series “Bamazon,” on the History Channel, along with already established shows like “Gold Rush” and “Jungle Gold,” have elevated the global mining bonanza into living-room entertainment and may make Guyana seem like a perfect place to access gold supplies at below-market rates. Be assured that every gold vendor here is well aware of the current spot rate on the global commodity market the chances of finding a bargain are next to nil.
It's also worth understanding that the mining industry in Guyana is the subject of extreme environmental concern due to a lack of effective environmental regulation and oversight plus persistent land-rights abuses affecting Guyana's indigenous populations. A 2007 report by the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) of Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program on Guyana's gold mining found that the practice—which employs thousands and is one of Guyana's major exports—causes deforestation, pollution of waterways, and threatens indigenous populations.
"Our observations confirmed that the areas around mines resemble a moonscape of barren, mounded sand and mud," Bonnie Docherty, clinical instructor at the IHRC, said in 2007. "Since small scale miners typically wash the topsoil away in order to get to the gold-bearing clayey soil underneath, the sites of former mines are quite infertile and incapable of supporting regenerated rainforest."
Much of Guyana's gold mining is done by small to medium operators. Some operators fear that proposed environmental regulations will force them out of business. (Source: Mongabay, read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1221-ha...
A recent editorial in the New York Times presents some of the major concerns that come along with the current global boom in so-called artisinal mining. Before shopping for gold (or other precious metals/stones) in a country like this, shoppers should take a moment to research the impacts of their purchase on one of the world's last remaining pristine raiforest environments.