Monday, April 26, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I want to apologize for how out of order and random my last posts were. There's just so much I want to share and write about and it's hard not having regular access to the Internet so when I get an opportunity to post I get all happy.
First, yesterday, our trip to Georgetown was a crazy, weird adventure. Although I feel there are no words to describe how we were feeling my friend Chelsea has written a blog post revealing the events that took place, please check out her blog Hope you enjoy!

As I was walking to work today with my black shades on, my big bag (that I carry everywhere) draped across my body, carrying my lunch box in my left hand and my umbrella in my right hand since it was 8am and the sun was blistering. Some guy took my picture. I thought to myself how ridiculous I must look and if I saw me walking down the street like that I would take my picture too.
Then this afternoon I finally went and bought a fan, YAY! (Now I hope I won't wake up in a puddle of sweat) So I walked home carrying it, along with my bag of veggies. It's already hard to look inconspicuous here and carrying a big black fan all the way home just adds to how much I stick out here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chelsea and I on the river trip

I love coconuts!!

Random and Out of Order but EH...This is Guyana

This was us in G'Town shopping before moving to our new home, it was crazy!

April 18, 2010
Sundays are lazy days, which I love. I sleep in and don’t have to hurry to get up to do anything. We usually watch movies, read, clean, plan out our meals for the week, and sometimes go to the market, although not much is open on Sundays. Sundays are also a day of worship and we live close to 2 churches so we hear everything from singing, to praying, to worship and speaking in something we don’t understand. Since there is no A/C here, the buildings are open so there is some circulation meaning we hear EVERYTHING that goes on outside. I cannot tell you how many times I hear the word
“Hallelujah” on Sundays. Simultaneously we get the noise from both churches and the music playing from the snackette across the street, I try and play my music to drown out the noise but that just adds to it. I find if I just embrace things it makes life a little easier.
Sundays are also the days I wash my whites. I use my filtered drinking water to wash my whites because the water that’s piped into the house is this brown orange color; I think it comes from the river, which is brown water. This water sometimes stains lighter colored clothes, especially if sunscreen gets on the clothing; we have learned this the hard way.

The Golden Years
April 21, 2010
A few weeks ago I met Betty, an elderly lady who was sitting on the curb. She called me over to ask who I am and what I am doing here. I told her I am a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer and I will be working here for 2 years. She then proceeded to ask me why I am not working at “her” health center, or the one close to her house? She asked if I could come to her elderly club meeting and I said I would try to make it. The next week I kind of forgot about it and a few days later as I was walking to the market I heard someone call my name. It was Betty so I crossed the street to talk to her. I apologized for not showing up and she asked if I could come the following week, I promised her I would so I went. It was the 13th year anniversary of this elderly club call the Golden Years Club. I am really glad I went, there was a lot of singing and a few ladies got up to recite poems. There was a pastor who spoke and he gave a good message of being thankful for life/God.
As I was sitting there I couldn’t help but think about these people’s lives. To me, being the outsider looking in, I see life here as difficult and I think some people don’t seem to value it as much as I would hope they would. But being with this group made me realize that it doesn’t matter where we come from or who we are we all have at least one similar aspect on life and that is to give thanks. This group of people was so grateful for all God has blessed them with. It was definitely something I needed to see because to be perfectly honest it has been difficult for me to figure out life here. I keep asking myself, “What is Guyana? What does Guyana stand for?” This is a pretty depressed country and it’s kind of hard right now to see where and how I am going to make a difference.
I am glad I met Betty and she introduced me to a group of great people and I look forward to going back to the Golden Years Club.

Always be Prepared
April 22, 2010
There are a few things I am learning quickly here: #1 go with the flow, #2 be prepared for anything, #3 don’t have too high expectations, and #4 “just now” really has no true reference to any time soon. I showed up to the health center and my Medex said, “oh good you‘re wearing pants because we are going on a river trip” OK I thought to myself, this is going to be interesting…luckily Chelsea and people from her health center were also going. This day would of course be the day I left everything at home including my notebook and pen (which I never leave home without), camera, sunscreen, and I didn’t bring a full water bottle. So, thank goodness for Chelsea who is always prepared, she let me use her sunscreen and pen and she took a lot of great pictures. We went on this river trip to do outreach at an Amerindian community who has no Doctor, only a midwife and a Community Health Worker. They rely on a boatload of professionals to come about every 8 weeks. It was Chelsea and I, a doctor, a nurse, a dentist, and a HIV counselor/tester. The boat ride was beautiful and long. We rode along the Demerara River with the Amazon jungle surrounding us. It was beautiful! I love being on the water, it's so peaceful!

Time For Updates...It's Been Awhile

Official PCV
March 30, 2010
Well I made it through training and I am now a Peace Corps Volunteer! It’s a good feeling to know I completed the first step in PC. The ceremony was really nice with the Country Director, PC staff, trainers, host families, counterparts (supervisors), and current volunteers. We all took an oath and they called us up on stage one by one to pin us.
So, I got really lucky and got placed at my site with 3 other volunteers. We have one house that’s made into 3 apartments. I don’t think this set up is very common in PC. Anyway, after the ceremony we went shopping for household goods, it was something! Our counterparts went with us to show us the good shops and where we could get most of the things we needed. I was glad they were with us because it was overwhelming, the city is very busy and crazy and the shopping is very different than what I am use to. So we shopped and walked around carrying many bags, while dodging cars and people. We looked ridiculous and kept saying, “this is Guyana” (TIG)

March 31, 2010
After waiting around a few hours at the hotel, saying good-bye to the people I have spent the past 2 months with, carrying down my 5 bags, piling me and my bags plus 3 other people and their bags into a van to go to Georgetown and unloading all of our bags on the street to load up in another bus where total we took up 12 seats, our bags alone took up 8 seats in the back of the bus, an hour an a half later we arrived to our home, where we will be living for the next 2 years. It’s amazing! I love it and I am so grateful I get to live with 3 other amazing people. So Chelsea and Tim are married and they have the upper part of the house, it’s huge they have 3 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms, a large kitchen where we’ve done most of the cooking together. They have a table that sits 4 and a couch where we watch movies on their laptop. Then Tony and I have apartments down stairs. I love my apartment! It’s 2 bedrooms and my bedroom is huge with a bathroom! I have a full size bed but the mattress is pretty hard. I have an awesome shower with water pressure. Keep in mind when I say it’s awesome that’s in Guyanese standards I am just lucky to have a bathroom that’s functional and a shower. I have a table that seats 2 a small fridge, which I was not expecting; I have a kitchen sink and a few cabinets. I have a good sized living room with 2 chairs and my extra bedroom is my exercise/yoga room. I love having my own place and I also love having housemates! Tony has the back of the house with one bedroom, a large living area with a kitchen. Tony and our neighbor who seems cool set up our clothesline, which we have 3. He hung our mosquito nets and hammocks and he’s made us home made pizza, which is amazing. We have been all cooking and eating together. We are able to walk to the market and we have already made friends with people who sell at the market. The town is divided by a river and Chelsea, Tony, and I have to cross the river to go to work, we all work at different health centers. Chelsea and I have been walking in the mornings, which is really nice.
Our second day here we decided to walk around town to scope things out and one of our counterparts took us to the regional office to meet the regional doctor and some other people. While we were there a region counsel meeting was going on so we went into this room where they had to motion for us to come in and be introduced. After we left we all said, “I can’t believe that just happened, TIG” it would be like walking in and meeting the state legislature. From there we went to the bank to open our accounts, we had four accounts to open, which took 3 ½ hours!
Our coolest adventure yet has been walking in the rain. We started walking down the street when it started to rain we went back to the house to get our jackets and continued to walk. It was pouring rain and so much fun! People were looking at us like we were crazy. Later that night Chelsea got a text from a teacher on the coast (where we lived for 2 months while in training) asking if we walked in the rain? Someone she knows who lives in Linden saw 4 while people walking in the rain and told her. Guyana is such a small country.
So, I am definitely not starving here (since we are on our own). We have been cooking a lot of great meal! Tony had made pizza a number of times ranging from eggplant and peppers, to BBQ chicken and pineapple, to herb crusted dough with tomatoes and cheese. We don’t have an oven so he got creative by using a tawa and cahari, which works surprising well and I have even been able to make cake cookies! We’ve made burritos, Guyanese style with roti as the tortilla, eggs with onions and peppers, rice and beans, smoothies, French toast, and fresh fruit juice.
It’s all been amazing and we love it here! The universe has really been looking out for me because this set up is awesome and I am so excited to spend the next 2 years here!

April 6, 2010
It was my first day at the health center. I don’t know yet what exactly my “job” consists of since these first 3 months at site are to observe, to get acquainted, and to do a needs assessment within the community. My day went something like this… Chelsea and I walked together down the street, and then we spilt as she went to get on the bus and I went to get on the boat. As I was waiting for the boat I asked a lady where the health center was located? She respond, “you take the boat across the river and take a car, since it’s far” and she pointed in the direction. So, I got on the boat and everyone was staring at me, like who is this white girl? I got off and the same lady tells a car driver to take me to the health center, a minute and $300 ($1.50) later I arrive to my new job. Note to self: when someone says something is far, it probably isn’t too far. So I am really happy I can walk easily to the health center. When I got there I was excited to see that there was a TV in the waiting area and the Early Morning news was on so I got to hear about some things going on back home. Then the rest of my day consisted of a lot of sitting and doing nothing. I was happy I got to observe the nurse check a few newborn babies, who were so cute. At one point during the day everyone stopped what they were doing to watch the Young and the Restless. My counterpart is awesome and I think I am going to learn a lot from her. I am really thinking about going back to school to become an RN, I want to work in labor and delivery and with little babies. I think that was the positive of my day. I left work a little after 3pm and took the boat back across the river and walked alone (for the first time) to my house, it was interesting and I was so happy to be in my apartment. A few minutes later Chelsea came home and we debriefed about our days while eating honey peanut butter and whole wheat crackers. Then we went to the market to get some food and I decided to get an ironing board, which was really funny to walk home carrying it, people looked at me like I was crazy. Then we went for a walk carrying our umbrellas since it was sprinkling and people always walk with their umbrellas. We got some more looks, we decided to not let it bother us and to show people that yes, we like to walk regardless of the weather! It has been raining every day, which at least it’s cooler outside but it sucks because our laundry does not dry and we don’t know what to do because it never fails when we do our laundry it rains.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My New Life

Hi all! Everything is going well, I love my site placement and I love my housemates! They are awesome and I am so grateful I live with them. We have been doing a lot of cooking, which I am really proud of us. My favorite thing I've cooked has been pumpkin chili and Tony makes us pizza at least once a week! We live close to the market, which I love and I can walk to work, I just have to take a short boat ride across the river. I have not really started any work yet, I am just observing and figuring out how things are done. It's so hot here and I sweat like I have never sweated before (gross!) Thank goodness, we don't have hot water, the cold showers feel good. It also rains here a lot, which makes it difficult to do laundry sometimes because we hang our clothes outside on the clothes line so when it's a hot sunny day we hurry and get our clothes scrubbed and hung. This is seriously a 24-hour job, just walking down the street is considered work, since we are always on display. The people are friendly however, Chelsea and I get a lot of attention with all the cat calls but we just ignore and continue on our way. We have been walking almost everyday, which I love and I even have a yoga/exercise room in my apartment, which is also like a sauna! I am loving all the fresh fruit, coconut is my new favorite thing!
Anyway, I miss home a lot and think about everyone often. Thank you for all your support and thoughts! love & peace,