Earlier this month, a new mall opened right outside of the city of Georgetown. I went there for the first time yesterday and was completely taken aback by how much like the developed world it was. Other than the fact that many of the stores are still vacant, it could easily have been a mall anywhere in America. I was very impressed. I also, of course, had thoughts about how the money could have gone to some more important causes in this country, but that is a story for another time.
Inside of this mall is a brand new movie theater. This is only the second movie theater to open in Guyana at present. At the end of May, I wrote about how I went to (at the time) Guyana’s only movie theater to see a movie on the big screen for the first time in almost a year. Now, Guyana boasts two movie theaters. This new one in the mall appears to have between 6 and 8 screens, which is a remarkable feat considering the surrounding culture, country, poverty, etc. After seeing this impressive movie theater, and taking note of the ticket prices (about $5.50 USD), my last remaining roommate and I decided to take some of the boys out of the orphanage for the afternoon and take them to see a movie. I made sure to take my four students, and then we also took the two boys that will be moving out of the orphanage at the end of the summer, along with one of the grade six boys who did well on his testing at the end of the school year. There were nine of us in total, walking around the streets of Plaisance like a mob, boarding the bus, walking the sunny road to the mall, and then eventually arriving. We attempted not to make much of a scene, but the boys were excited to be in a new place. We kept where we were going a secret from them until the very moment we were walking into the theater. I consider that a success.
The funniest part of the whole day was that, while they certainly didn’t mind going to see a movie, they were most excited to ride the escalator from the first floor of the mall to the second floor where the theater is. After we had purchased our tickets, they all asked if we could go back to the escalator while we waited for the movie to start. So we did. For the most part, the boys didn’t do anything too silly, they didn’t try to walk backwards or anything. Basically, they just rode the escalator up, then got right back on it and rode it down. They did this over and over and OVER again. It was a perfect moment. I snapped a few pictures of the boys as they grinned from ear to ear as the moving stairs took them from down to up and then from up to down. I’m certain they would have rode the escalators all afternoon if we had let them. As it was, they probably each took about fifty rides over the course of the time we were in the mall. We made sure that they didn’t get in the way of other people trying to get from one floor to the next.
While this was going on, while I watched the boys experiencing “moving stairs” for the first time in their lives, my roommate was caught up in a conversation with someone who looked like they worked for the mall. I wasn’t sure if we were about to get in trouble for monopolizing the escalator, but when my roommate came over to me, it was quite the opposite. She had had a conversation with the man that went something like this:
Are you here with that charity from yesterday?
Oh, I was just checking because we like to help out certain groups when they come here.
Well, we’re just here to see a movie. We’re volunteers and these are some of the boys from the orphanage up the road.
Then let me buy your tickets for you.
Thanks, but we already purchased our tickets.
That’s okay, I’ll reimburse you. It’s fun to watch them experience an escalator for the first time. Whenever you’re ready, just look for me when you get to the counter and I’ll make sure you get through.
There remarkable thing about the situation was that, as my roommate and I were figuring out the finances of the day (how many boys we would be able to afford taking) we had actually verbalized how nice it would be if someone would sponsor all of the boys to get them into the movie. As volunteers, we’re always strapped for cash. Sure, we could have attempted to do a little fundraising, perhaps. Stuff like that has certainly been done in the past. But wouldn’t it be cool if someone just manned up and said, “sure, bring an entire group of kids in here to do something that they normally don’t get to do”? As I heard that our tickets were being reimbursed, as I watched the boys’ smiles going up and down the moving stairs, I couldn’t help but think the moment was divinely inspired.
When we got into the movie theater, we were the only ones in the room. The air conditioning was on way too high, so we were all chilly, but the seats were comfortable and there was stadium seating. It was one of the nicer theaters I’ve sat in, so I was especially glad the boys were getting to experience it too. We realized after a short time that we had been upgraded to a 3D movie, too. That was just an added surprise. I personally dislike 3D movies, but the boys’ excitement about getting their own pair of glasses to wear more than made up for it. They kept putting the glasses on early and staring at the blank screen in front of us as if something was suppose to be happening.
“Sir, what are these for?”
“They’re supposed to make the movie look like it’s popping out at you.”
When we had all the boys in their seats we took their orders. We were going to give each of them a small popcorn and then have them share drinks. So, we stood there and attempted to take a drink order from the seven of them, but it was very confusing. Grape? Orange? Sprite? Coke? No, no Coke, it has caffeine. By the time we had everything straightened out and went to get the drinks, the man who had bought our tickets had already poured nine drinks, one for each of us.
We had ample time to relax while we waited for the movie to start. The boys munched on their popcorn and played with our cameras. I think, for the most part, they appreciated just sitting in such comfortable seats and being out of the orphanage for the afternoon. I wished we were able to take more of the boys out. When the movie actually began, I made sure to look around at the excitement on each of their faces. I could have laughed out loud at their big ol’ grins and silly looking 3D glasses on their faces. They enjoyed the film from start to finish. “Ant Man” was the movie that we went to see. It’s a strange superhero movie. I had no interest in it. But, it was entertaining to be with the boys who obviously enjoyed watching a man with the capability of shrinking and growing to fight his enemies. Plus, each action scene was stuffed with three-dimensional fights and dives and punches, so these 10 to 17-year-olds were completely satisfied with what they were watching.
I had Winston sitting on my left and Ravi sitting on my right. They would both turn to me and make comments during the movie every so often. I chuckled every time they did this. Winston especially was a little chatty. He was trying to explain what was going on to me, who some of the characters were. He had, apparently, seen the trailer for the movie and wanted to make sure I knew everything that he knew about it.
When the movie concluded, we were all chilled to the bone from the AC. Many of the boys had retreated their arms into the insides of their t-shirts. I couldn’t feel my toes. It was, for once, a welcomed relief, to step out into the warmth of the outdoors. We did this, of course, only after riding the escalator ten more times though. When we reached back to the orphanage, the boys all had their new, plastic glasses to show off to the rest of the boys. I’m guessing those glasses will last about two days before they’re lost/broken/stolen/thrown away.
Lessons of the day: Some people are just looking to do good once in a while & try not to let the simple pleasures in life go unnoticed–like your 3D glasses, or getting your own soda!