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Welcome to McDoom!

Unlike Wakanda, the fictional African home of Marvel's Black Panther, the setting of Episode Two is a real place. Although Guyana is part of South America, it has a Caribbean (rather than Latin) culture, a result of both its history and its geography.

Guyana is a small country, and most of the interior is covered in difficult-to-penetrate rain forest. The bulk of the population -- over 90% in fact -- lives on the Caribbean-facing coast clustered in and around the capital city of Georgetown. I visited the country in 2011, and walking the streets of Georgetown, you're never more than a few blocks from the water, or from the mighty Demerara river, which empties into it, and so the "feel" is much the same as on any island. The food, the music, and the colonial architecture are all reminiscent of the Caribbean.

Murky waters where the Demerara empties into the sea

Murky waters where the Demerara empties into the sea

It's easy for Anglos like me to get around because there because English is the official language, a holdover from the country's history as a former British colony, a history that has left Guyana with some ethnic tension. In their attempts to monetize the land, the British imported workers from India and slaves from Africa, the descendants of which have largely displaced the native Amerindians, who only make up about 9% of the present population. In the wake of the Brits' departure in 1966, the Indo-Guyanese have tended to fare better than their Afro-Guyanese cohorts, having a higher average education (and enjoying the consequent economic benefits), such that there is some distrust between the two groups. But notably, there is also a significant mixed population -- people such as Xana who descend from multiple ethnic lineages.

Not only is Guyana real, so is the family name McDoom, although as far as I know, no one with that name is a scheming criminal tycoon seeking to dominate the economic life of the country through bribery, extortion, and murder! But the clan does have a traditional village named after them. The town of McDoom lies just outside Georgetown.

I took a picture of the sign above -- a picture that has since been lost -- because I knew as soon as I saw it that that had to be the name of a villain.

Workers protest outside City Hall

Workers protest outside City Hall

Stalls outside the old Dutch market, whose clock tower rises in the back

Do not dump garbage here

Inside the market building is a maze of stalls

Unfortunately, the country ranks number one in the world in suicide rate. What's interesting is that it ranks at the top overall and for both men and women separately, versus countries like Russia, which ranks 14th overall but 7th for men and 46th for women. I'm not sure anyone has a good reason why.

It's the kind of place you can love if you're born there, but also walk away from when you need, which is exactly what Xana does.

For those interested, here is a good discussion on how the post-colonial world messes with identity: a strange mix of race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion.

“Minority” Identity Development Model For An Indo-Caribbean American in Five Stages

And now apparently they've discovered oil off the coast. Somehow I doubt it will make anything better.

Guyana, one of South America’s poorest countries, struck oil. Will it go boom or bust?

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