Guyana – Hart of Darkness

Cult Following

While we happily looked at the legendary city of El Dorado after arriving in Guyana on this worldwide tour, today we take a somber twist and discuss the Jonestown Massacre, an event which brought the most international attention to Guyana, following the mass suicide/murder of 909 Peoples Temple cult members:

First, let’s get some background on these folks. The Peoples Temple was founded in 1956 and led by reverend Jim Jones. First established in Indianapolis, Indiana, the church was moved to Redwood Valley, California in 1966. Seeking to build a communistic community, free from the U.S. government’s involvement, the Peoples Temple set up shop in Guyana after buying jungle land from that government in 1973.

jonestown_news

As an article about Jones was set to be printed, featuring quotes from ex-Peoples Temple members, the cult leader moved his operation to Guyana, dubbing the compound, Jonestown. Things got off to a rocky start in Jonestown, as there weren’t enough cabins, making those that existed overfilled. Followers were also split up according to gender, separating married couples and families.

The conditions were rough in the humid jungle, where members were required to work long days and rest wasn’t rewarded in the evening, as Jones broadcast his non-stop thoughts over a loudspeaker all through the night. Followers weren’t allowed to leave the armed-guarded compound and escape was futile, given the remote location deep in the bush.

On November 18, 1978, U.S. congressman Leo Ryan, who was visiting Jonestown (along with worried family members of Peoples Temple worshippers and various news crews, reporters, and photographers) after hearing stories about the situation, offered to bring anyone who wanted to leave the compound back with him to America. Only a few followers accepted the proposition, scared of Jones and his power.

Jonestown Airport

As the group was set to leave, a Peoples Temple member attempted to attack Ryan. This let the whole group know they were in danger and they made their way to the nearby airport, but tragically, the planes weren’t ready to take off yet. As the ensemble waited, cult followers opened fire on them, killing five, including Ryan. Ryan’s death made him the first congressman to perish during official government duty.

Jones gathered his worshippers, told them of the attack on Ryan and his group, and warned them of repercussions from the U.S. government. He advocated for a “revolutionary act” of mass suicide and quelled the one objection to the plan. Tubs of a grape-flavoured drink (I never was a fan of grape drink), mixed with cyanide, chloral hydrate, and Valium were brought out and distributed to members – women and children first – with armed guards enforcing everyone to drink the potion.

It only took approximately five minutes for the whole congregation to perish, 303 of which were kids. As for Jones, he died after being shot in the head, although it’s inconclusive if the bullet was self-inflicted or not. Only 33 people (some of them children) survived the whole ordeal, including members who hid within the compound, escaped into the jungle or were part of the group not killed at the airport.

Jonestown Tombstone

It was later discovered that Jones, referred to as ‘Dad’ by his followers, was addicted to various drugs, which didn’t bode well for his rampant paranoia. Jones had even been arrested in the men’s room of a Los Angeles movie theatre, five years before the tragedy, for soliciting sex from an undercover cop. Although sex was banned (LAME!) at Jonestown, Jones regularly participated in intimate acts with female and male worshippers, saying it was to bring them a closer connection to him.

While the massacre bred the term ‘Drink the Kool-Aid,’ Kool-Aid wasn’t even the refreshing beverage used at all, but a knockoff called Flavor-Aid. I hope the fine makers of Kool-Aid, represented legally by their mascot the Kool-Aid Man, took every person who used the line to court and if they didn’t change their ways, were the recipient of one of Kool-Aid Man’s classic wall crashing “Oh-Yeah’s.”

Today, what was once Jonestown has disappeared back into the jungle landscape, with the buildings destroyed and the plant life overgrowing and dominating the area again. The massacre was the greatest loss of U.S. civilian life (not including natural disasters) until the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Guyana: Hart of Darkness

Hart of Darkness Martini

  • 1.5 oz Lemon Hart Rum
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Dash of Passion Fruit Syrup
  • Dash of Honey
  • Garnish with a Peach Wedge

It’s crazy to think that anyone can be swayed so dramatically as to kill themselves and allow their families to suffer such a horrible fate. Tragically, cults have popped up from time to time across the globe, feasting on the minds of the weak and needy. At least in the Cult of Sip you get frequent doses of booze… join me, won’t you!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This was a very nice martini, but I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more had I subbed in Lemon-Lime Soda, rather than Club Soda to give it a little more flash and flair. The Lemon Hart Rum is quite nice and will make for many good cocktails in the future.

Guyana – Gold Way Cocktail

Gold Digger

Guyana is said to be the location of the fabled El Dorado, or as it’s more popularly known, the Lost City of Gold. Like Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold, I intend on finding this massive fortune, so join me if you dare, as we discover the truth about this lucrative legend!

The term El Dorado first referred to the king of the Muisca people, who were based in what is now Colombia. He would powder himself with gold dust and then jump into Lake Guatavitá as an offering to the creators of the universe. After learning of the legend, Spanish conquistadors swiftly conquered the Muisca folks, but when their findings of gold were so minimal, they refused to believe that they had actually located El Dorado and continued their fruitless search.

El Dorado

As with many legends, its stature grew with time and retellings, changing from being about a king to an entire city of gold. With occasional minor hauls of gold, inspiration continued to thrive, but the mother lode was never located. The Spanish weren’t alone in their pursuit of the wealthy empire and were joined by German explorers and even some English. Sadly, when Sir Walter Raleigh failed to find the city after two expeditions, he returned to England and was executed.

Another element that helped spread the myth was the various South American civilizations, who were getting slaughtered, realizing that the best way to get rid of the invading treasure seekers was to tell them that El Dorado was not where they currently were, but somewhere further on. This kept the search continuing and widening to the furthest reaches of the continent.

On the plus side, this all led to great advancements in exploring and mapping South America. Most notably, Francisco de Orellana discovered the Amazon River and traced it to the Atlantic Ocean. Maps in Europe during this time, even depicted the fabled golden city as existing in the mountains of Guyana. Of course, it was never actually found there, but like the Lost City of Atlantis, that doesn’t mean people have stopped searching for it.

Guyana Money

Maybe El Dorado is in Guyana, given they’re rocking $5,000 bank notes!

Lope de Aguirre became known as the ‘Madman of El Dorado’ when he usurped power over an expedition led by Pedro de Ursúa, murdered many in the party and went on to attack Spanish settlements, declaring his group independent from Spain. Aguirre was finally dealt with by the Spanish, but not before leading a brief reign of terror. Perhaps he went insane in his search for the lost city.

The El Dorado name has spread across the globe, often being used as a moniker for a mining town or other place that riches can be sought quickly. There’s El Dorado County in California and in contrast, Helldorado was a nickname earned by Tombstone, Arizona. Both the El Dorado and Helldorado tags have been used by beer brewing companies. Also, General Motors bestowed upon its most expensive model the name Cadillac Eldorado, in honour of the mythical city.

Cadillac-eldorado

DreamWorks animated film The Road to El Dorado may be the most recognized piece of popular culture referencing the myth. Starring the voice talent of Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh and having a stacked lineup for its soundtrack, the movie follows two Spanish explorers who discover the Lost City of Gold and are viewed as gods by the citizens of El Dorado. They try to con these fine El Doradians in the hope they can get away with all their loot and hijinks ensues.

The concept of El Dorado has been turned into metaphor, as it could involve anything a person longs for, whether that be wealth, love, happiness, etc. It can also be used to describe something unattainable. If you are said to be “looking for El Dorado,” you’re basically being told that your mission is hopeless and will result in nothing but misery. The Sip Advisor’s ‘El Dorado’ may be the success of this site and thankfully for all you little sippers, I’m just too dumb to give up!

Guyana: Gold Way Cocktail

Gold Way Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Lemon Hart Rum
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

I think it would have been fun to live in a time when all these mysteries weren’t disproved… when a sense of adventure and discovery existed and we couldn’t just Google everything to learn the answer. That said, I’m quite comfortable playing around on the internet, rather than going out to find answers on my own, so let’s just call the whole thing a wash!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
The recipe calls for Vanilla Syrup, but I subbed in Galliano instead and it was the highlight of the drink, coming in at the end on top of the Rum and Club Soda. I should also note that there is an El Dorado rum out there, that would be even more interesting if it included gold leaf!