“Look, there are the Tapirs!”
“Tapirs? Where?” Coen halts the Land Cruiser and pulls out his camera. “Tell me, where do you see one?”
“Well, there’s a purple one, and a yellow one, and a red one.”
I am kidding him for a moment; as navigator I have read up a bit on Corriverton whereas he hasn’t.
“Tapirs. It’s the name they gave to these boxy cars,” I point out.
Okay, no wild Tapirs but Coen is captivated all the same. The next 50 kilometers or so he regularly stops to check out this intriguing vehicle. As we’ve seen in some other countries, most notably Pakistan but also in Suriname, owners are proud of their trucks or buses and they may decorate it with images or texts.
After each photo session Coen returns with more info, given to him by proud owners. The Tapir is primarily used as a taxi, carrying about 8 passengers and it only plies on the far eastern side of Guyana in the area called Corriverton, which is a chainlike string of villages.
Apparently the Tapir’s size and shape have always remained the same ever since it was designed in the 1970s. The body was manufactured locally while other parts and the engine were imported. Production stopped in the 1980s but the Tapirs still do their job while they are provisionally repaired and restored as years go by. The engine can be a Vauxhall but may as well be Toyota or Datsun 1200.