February 23rd is the celebration of independence for Guyana, their Republic Day. That’s not a great celebration theme, though, so instead they celebrate Mashramani. Mash Day a day to celebrate Guyanese culture and the variety of cultural groups that make up Guyana. The whole month is called “the month of Mash”—it’s a big deal.
Mash is referred to as a “ limeing” day (to “lime” means to just hang out with friends, low key). A parade of floats goes through the city and people line the streets of the parade route. Like, seriously, they line those streets. Very early on Mash day people had tents set up with barbecue going, they were selling and drinking beer and obviously, because this is Guyana, they were blasting music. People dress in costumes and in masquerade masks, lots of colors and lots of glitter.
We took a few rounds that day through town to get a feel for things. We met up with friends, passed familiar faces and tried to soak it all in. Mainly it was loud and crowded, but a fun vibe. Everyone assumes Mash will be the most fun day of the year and they’re not going to let that go without a fair try. So the attitude of Mash was to make it great!
After we got our first layer of sunburn and were too hot to stay out any longer, we came home to navigate our way to our gate through the lines of cars packed on our road. The festivities were happening maybe 20 yards from our house, so we were in prime-time space. That also meant that the noise from outside was inside as well—so much so that it was rattling our house. Sitting in our living room, we had to yell to barely hear each other. After a little trying, we went back out where it was actually easier to survive.
The day was fun; nothing too extreme but its really impressive to see people celebrating their culture with such pride and dignity. I guess that’s what the 4th of July is for us at home, but experiencing another country exuding pride and excitement is pretty cool.