Welcome to Guyana
After a fortnight in the holiday resort of St Lucia, we arrived in the pouring rain of Guyana on Sunday morning to receive a harsh culture shock.
Guyana, the only non-island nation in West Indies cricket, is bordered by Venezuela to the west, Surinam to the east and Brazil to the south so, unsurprisingly, it has a South American feel.
But there was a more immediate hit as the drive from the airport towards the capital Georgetown took us past a community sprawling on the banks of the Demerara River, its houses poor and surrounded by water – puddles and drainage ditches.
Few of those people are likely to turn up to matches in the next two weeks at the brand new Providence Stadium on the other side of the dual carriageway.
Unlike St Lucia, where soccer is the hotter topic of conversation, that is not for want of enthusiasm in the land of Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Ticket prices for the Super 8 clashes, which start with South Africa against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, pits England and Ireland on Friday and sees the West Indies arrive for the weekend, start at US$50, which for many is a week’s wages.
Despite fears to the contrary, it looks like games will go ahead as planned at the ground, which was built with the aid of India’s cricket board, although there may be an element of chaos.
There were problems with power last week, although that seems to have been surmounted. Whether I will have an internet connection to report from the games is still open to question.
While the playing arena and stands look world class, the area around it is a building site. On Monday, I paddled from the accreditation centre to the media centre, and again from there to the pavilion.
It’s been raining, and how! Georgetown had been dry for weeks, according to our taxi driver but, “when it’s time for cricket, the rain come.”
South Africa had barely begun training at nearby Everest Cricket Club on Monday morning when the heavens opened and they were left pondering the possibility of a two-day match against Sri Lanka this week, trying desperately to fit in 20 overs per side.
The cameras were set up outside for Sajid Mahmood’s news conference at hotel England are currently sharing with South Africa and Sri Lanka, then quickly moved inside.
With England taking it easy for a couple of days, Saj and a friend wnet for a trip to Georgetown zoo, situated near the Bourda ground, seat of Guyana's rich cricketing history.
Another group took a flight south to national landmark the Kaieteur Falls, apparently nearly five times as high as those at Niagara.
In a city with a seafront that feels a little like Skegness – but a little hotter - as the moody Atlantic Ocean crashes into the sea wall, entertainment may be at a premium over the next two weeks.
Our first came at the expense of radio colleague Arlo White, who was disconcerted to say the least when his taxi driver pulled over at the airport exit and pulled the livery from the side of his cab.
Thankfully, this did not turn out to be a kidnap mission, although when Arlo arrived at our rudimentary hotel he may have wished it had been. The next 16 days will be no holiday.