Saturday, February 27, 2010

Coming out of my Comfort Zone

On Sunday I went to a lake for a concert, it was a lot of fun! Lake Mainstay is a really nice and kind of expensive lake resort that’s a ways off the main road. It has white sand, the water is the black water and although I didn’t get to swim I put me feet in and it was so warm. They also have cabins you can rent, which I hear are nice, a bar and restaurant. Anyway, I went with my host family and we packed food and ate there. Around 5pm the band Karma (they are like a Pop-Indian band) came on stage and I was taught how dance (wine). Later two more PST’s (Peace Corps Trainees) came so it was good not to be the only white person there. The weirdest/coolest part was that the President of Guyana came and he was just walking around. Earlier in the day I was outside reading and my host mom comes to tell me the President is about to drive by. I hear a siren and then see a bunch of cars pass by. I was kind of in shock that I just witnessed that and she asked, “What happens when your president comes to your town?” I said, “He doesn’t”. It was then really crazy to see him at the lake. He had security with him but nothing like we have in the states. Us three PST’s were pretty much in disbelief.

Mashamani is Guyana’s Independence Day and it was an interesting day. So, I am going to try to make this story funny because looking back it is pretty funny but while it was happening I was not laughing. The Guyanese use a phrase “Just Now” to mean ‘soon’ ‘in a little’ ‘later’ but it really has no reference to any time soon and it sometimes drives me crazy. So we are getting ready and waiting to go to Mash and I really had no idea what was going on. In my head I thought we were going to a near by village to watch the parade and that the green hand painted logo shirt I was told to wear was just for fun as we were going to promote someone’s business. Anyway, we are standing outside waiting for our ride when this big truck with loud music playing and Guyana flags all over it stops. I recognize some people so I am waving and taking pictures. I see a mini bus and I think that’s our ride but then I am told to get up on the bed of the truck where these HUGE loud speakers are, not leaving much room for us to stand without falling off of the truck. So I think ok, we are just riding with them to the parade it shouldn’t be too far. Meanwhile, I am plugging my ears as hard as I possibly can because the music is so loud. I am about to get off and try to go in the bus when the bus takes off and the truck starts moving. To make a long story short we didn’t stop a few villages away we went further and it wasn’t a short ride. My hands were over my ears the whole time, which then my hands started to hurt and fell asleep. But I was afraid to uncover my ears because I thought I might lose my hearing. We finally came to stop about 40 minutes later and I got off of the truck and by this time I was pretty frustrated. Then I was told to line up behind the float, I start to realize I was expected to be apart of the parade…that’s why there were a bunch of people wearing the same type of shirt. It was really hard to shake my hips while walking and I was not feeling the mood to dance or be in a crowd so I went in the bus where I rode for about 3 hours just to go a few miles. When we got to the village, where I thought we were first going, my host mom asked me if I wanted to walk the rest, I said sure. So I got back in line and walked/ danced (my host mom moving my hips) into the cricket ground where there were tons of people. The first people I saw standing on the sidelines were my fellow PCT’s, I felt so ridiculous but all I could do was laugh at myself. I guess its moments or days like this one where I just have to go with the flow and do what’s expected of me. I am going to have to learn quickly how to breakout of my comfort zone.

We got our host volunteer visit assignments, where we stay with a current volunteer for a week to see where and how they live and what their job is like. I am really excited to go somewhere else and see what volunteer life is all about. I am also really excited for where I am going although I am not going far!

Life in Guyana

I would first like to say that it’s my goal to not post my frustrations but this experience is a huge roller coaster ride that’s going up and down hourly, daily, weekly, and probably monthly. I was talking to others about this roller coaster and it’s not like anything we’ve experienced before and some of the emotions are new. I am trying to stay in tune with my emotions and why I am feeling a certain way. A huge part of this experience is remembering things are different here and I have to figure out a way to balance my personal life, background and knowledge with that of the Guyanese lifestyle, background, and knowledge.
Anyway, I am sure you are all wondering what life is like here in Guyana…I would like to give you an example of my day thus far while in training. I wake up around 6:30am go down stairs and eat breakfast, which ranges but luckily I have been getting toast with peanut butter, eggs, or even corn flakes with cows milk (my family has a cow, it stays in what they call the back dam) . Then I get dressed and around 7:20am I wait out front with my host mom for a taxi or mini bus. I get in the car or bus with a bunch of little kids, all dressed nicely in their school uniforms. About half way to my training facility I have to take another car or bus and I am at “school” by 8:00am. We briefly go over any pressing issues or questions and then have a break down of the day/week. There are 35 of us total, while half of us are health and the other half is education, we spend half of the day together as a big group going over PC (Peace Corps) important materials such as safety and security and medical/keeping us healthy information. Then the other half in our different groups learning about health or education in Guyana and how we are going to be apart of that. We do a lot of group work and discussions, which is interesting to hear about other people’s experience and views. We get an hour lunch from 12:00-1:00, it feels like I am back in elementary school, as we examine each other’s lunches and share. Portion size is huge here, I guess they don’t want us Americans to go hungry…I really need to take pictures of my meals. After lunch we have more sessions and group work. Then around 4:15pm we are released and I get to go on my journey back home. Transportation where I am at right now pretty much stops running around 6:00pm (the town shuts down really early) so that does not leave me much time to hangout after training or at the internet cafĂ©. I get home and my host mom is usually waiting for me, I either have a snack or depending on how late it is I have dinner. I then hangout and talk with my host family or walk around the village with my host mom to other houses and visit with friends and family. Then I prepare my mosquito net, shower, do homework, write letters or in my journal, and I’m usually in bed between 9:00 and 10:00. The days seem to go by fast. I am really looking forward to after training when I am in my site and working.
Now, a note about food here…”staples” better known as carbohydrates are huge here and pretty much everything is fried. For the most part I have been enjoying the food, with the exception of hot dogs and all the frying, also raw vegetables are not really common here everything is well cooked. My favorite dishes so far have been pumpkin curry with rotti, channa (garbanzo) curry with rotti, cook-up (rice with beans and corn) fried plantains and frozen (it’s like a popsicle) my host mom makes. I am having a little challenge with some the meat, I just don’t like meat but I am loving the fruit I just wish I could eat more of it.
Last thing, I am in love with the night sky here, the stars are amazing and bright.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Under the Guyana Sun

I just read my last post, sorry for all the spelling mistakes! I was in a hurry but today I have time to write! I had this blog post all ready to go on my laptop but I left my computer at home today so I will write about today instead. Today is Friday and we had a nice surprise of having a half day...what to do with this free time?? Free time has been rear as I have to hurry home at night, since the town shuts down at 6pm. So I finally go to hang out with my fellow trainees. We ate lunch on the sea wall, it was my first time at the sea wall and to see the Atlantic, I was disappointed, the water is muddy, not the typical Caribbean ocean I was hoping for. I said, "I miss the Pacific" but I was in good company with a cold Banks (Guyana beer) in hand! The sun was hot but it felt good to get sun. Like I said before there are tons of dogs everywhere, but I failed to mention that there aren't just dogs roaming there's also cows, goats, sheep, chicken, and cats. Anyway, we fed a hungry dog, who we named Hoover, our scraps and he was happy. Tomorrow we are learning how to garden then Sunday we are going to the lake and I hope to get some swimming in. Tuesday is a holiday "Mash" then next Sunday we get to go for a week for our host volunteer visit. We will be placed with different volunteers and living with them in their community for one week to see how they live and what they do.
Some things I have done thus far...
Learned how to hand wash my laundry
Went to the Indian temple (wore the Indian dress, and sat on the ground for 5 hours)
Went trench fishing (well watched men trench fish with huge nets)
Gone to a wake
Visited a health center
Some interesting things...
The walls in my house don't go all the way to the ceiling
On top of having a hot dog for breakfast today I had a chicken burger
I am the only one who showers inside
I have so many bug bits
I love fried plantains and frozens (my host mom's popsicles)
Over all things are going good, I experience many emotions and frustrations every day but that's part of this hard yet rewarding adventure.
I miss home and all of you.
Oh I almost forgot the big news....Andrea and Yoho are having a baby BOY!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Stanger in a Stange Land

That's our motto and I definitely feel that way. The country is beautiful and the people are friendly. I am having a difficult time with the language barrier but I am sure that will come with time. I am living with a host family on the coast, they are Indian and really nice, I have a 15 year old brother, he let me try to play his video game last night, I am not that good. There are animals that roam all over and are very loud during the night (dogs bark all night) but I am comfortable here and learning the ways. I am in training all day (8-4)and my brain is on overload. My group consists of 35 people a good mix of guys and gals,there are 5 married couples and one older couple. My home is about 20 minutes away from training and I have to take 2 different taxis it's costing me about 400 Guyanese dollars a day to travel, thats about $2 US. My family has been mostly feeding me American food, like fried chicken, french fries and I had a hot dog for breakfast this morning, that was hard to eat. So I am hoping I will get to go to the store and get some cereal soon. There are rice fields all over this region and my host dad works at the factory, he is going to take me there to see it one day. I can't believe I have been here 6 days, it seems so much longer. Life here is definitely slower and that takes some getting use to. Sorry, this is random and short but I am just excited I finally got to blog! Know that I miss and love you all.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Great Last Few Days

I can't believe how fast the time has gone but it has been nice being in CA and seeing friends and family. It was fun going to the beach and the Kings game and out to dinner. Thank you everyone. I will miss you all and you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I will keep in touch and I'll see you in 2 years (if not sooner).
Here is to adventure!!
* I don't know when I will be able to post again but when I get the chance I will let you know that I've made it and how everything is going.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This is not Good-Bye

It has been great seeing people and saying good-bye for now. My mom and Dan had a going away party for me in Utah it was great! They had island themed decorations including lots of palm trees! Some people from work stopped by, Dan's family was there, along with the Correa's, Emily and Talia, and the Brandt's. It was great seeing everyone and very meaningful. Thank you everyone who came!!

As we were driving to California we were planning on stopping in Vegas and it just so happened that a bunch of friends from camp were there at the same time so we met up and had a good time! It was great seeing them!

Last night I had a going away dinner with my mom's side of the family. I enjoyed spending time and talking with everyone! I will surely miss my family.

Thank you all for everything!