Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy 25th Chels!

Happy birthday to my new good friend Chealsea!!

I remember the first night I met my fellow PCVs in New York for Staging. Sitting across the table from me was Chelsea, full of excitement and eagerness. Little did I know at the time she would become such a huge part of my Peace Corps experience. She was the first person I felt comfortable confiding in during training and when I found out we’d be living in the same place for next 2 years I couldn’t be happier.

She truly is an amazing person. She is so smart and intuitive, she’s friendly and supportive, she’s giving and loving, she’s funny and has a contagious smile. She enjoys life and adventure and has a compassionate heart (after all she did join Peace Corps!).

Chels, I know I say this all the time but I am so glad and grateful you are here and apart of this crazy journey! I couldn’t imagine doing this without you, which is weird seeing as I came into this experience expecting to be all alone and I am sure you never expected you and Tim would be living with other volunteers.

Thank you for being an inspiration and a motivator. Thank you for being there when I need someone to talk to. Thank you for being my workout buddy (Cut Like Kate!). Thank you for confiding in me. Thank you for all the fun, craziness. Thank you for being my friend.

Here’s to the rest of our Mr. Toads Wild Ride!!

Can’t wait to celebrate with you in Barbados!

Happy 25th!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

200 Days Down...

…5…a lot more to go. But who’s counting? Counting days makes it seem like time is passing slowly, I’d much rather measure my time here by the number of months. But really 200 days is a lot and it’s a milestone.

Sometimes I just can’t get over the twisting, stomach dropping, loopy roller coaster ride that is this experience. I think putting it in the context of a roller coaster ride is dead on. As it’s full of ups and downs, joys and stress, and not sure what we’ll encounter in the next moment.
Living with other volunteers is interesting, but good; I know it’s definitely keeping me grounded. I say it’s interesting because we get in these funks…one day I’ll be in a funk and then a few days later someone else is hit with the case of the funk. These funks have a wide range of reasons including: work related frustrations, feeling unsuccessful, feeling like we are wasting our time, missing home, knowing what we want back home but facing the reality that it’s all on hold for the time being, and the monotony that comes with life here. Sometimes we may get caught up in the negative aspects, which can be draining, but having people to vent to and knowing we are in the same boat really helps to get out of these funks. We are here to support one another and for that I am truly grateful.
I don’t want it to seem like I’m not enjoying my time here because I am, at least most moments of it, it’s just so different than anything I am use to.

I love the personal growth that this experience provides. It pushes barriers and forces us to step out of our comfort zones. It makes us stronger, more tolerable, and patient people. It opens our eyes to a whole new world. And it allows us to really find our true selves.

The other night at dinner the 4 of us were talking about life and this journey, as we do a lot. We were talking about how it’s going to feel when we’re finished and looking back on these 2 years. I think it’s going to be a remarkable feeling to know we did it. We aren’t going to remember all the hard, frustrating times. We are going to remember the beauty, the friendships, the crazy adventures, and the wow factors.

In exciting news…I am going on a week-long outreach trip up the Mazaruni River (in Region 7) with the Ministry of Health. I am super excited and don’t really know what to expect but I am looking forward to seeing another part of Guyana, especially the remote Amerindian parts. I’ll be gone from August 26 to September 2 and I get back just in time to head off to Barbados (from the 3rd-7th)!! It’s going to be a much needed 13 days!

Look forward to upcoming posts!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Market, Meals & Fiber

I’ve been asked to post more of what everyday life is like in Guyana. So I’ll do my best. It’s a little difficult to give a distinctive idea but I like the task and it’s a good way to bring a little more of my life here to everyone back home.

Ok, so the market…it’s definitely not like grocery stores I am use to where you step into a very bright, clean, organized building, where you travel up and down the aisles gathering items from your list in hand.

Instead, it’s a big run-down looking building with tons of different vendors (or shops if you will), kind of like a mall. It’s your one-stop shop; you can get everything from household items, clothing, and food. There are also homemade food stands where you can grab a cup of channa or a pine tart. I do have a few vendors who I visit regularly which is nice. I just tell them what I am shopping for and they gather it for me. All of this is actually quite convenient it’s just crowded and I don’t always like to deal with the hassle and bustle that comes with going to the market.

the pictures aren't great

It’s a pretty big market and I am sure I haven’t even seen everything yet. It sometimes feels like a maze as you can enter from many different openings, some of which are very narrow alleys (or cracks as I call them). There are stray animals roaming and it doesn’t smell all that pleasant. But I am very grateful that it’s open everyday.

If I don’t feel like going to the market I can stop at various vegetable stands along my route to and from work, which I do a lot. There are a few small markets, more like grocery stores that are nice to go to. I like one across the river, as I have free range to browse the store and actually pick things off the shelves.

My meals...

We still do group meals a few nights a week, which it great. But I also enjoy cooking for myself. My meals are pretty simple and not a lot of effort goes into cooking them. I tend to eat a lot of the same things each week because there’s not a lot of variety and I love eating lots of fruits and vegetables, which can get expensive so I try and spread things out over a week. I eat a lot of beans and rice, usually mixed with lots of veggies.

Almost every week I get a pound of pumpkin, a few plantains, a bag of carrots (they are imported from the U.S.) some greens (bora, callaloo, orka), sweet potatoes, garlic, onion, and whatever fruit I can afford that week (pineapple or papaya, I’m sad mangoes are out of season).

Steamed plantains, okra, and pumpkin with garlic...yummy

I was getting coconut weekly but I’ve started to cut back on that. I’ve also started to buy peanuts and raisins more, which make great snacks. Usually I’ll make a big pot of something and eat it through out the week. For breakfast (again my options are slim) I’ll either have eggs (usually a veggie scramble), oatmeal, or I’ll make a smoothie depending on my supply of smoothie ingredients.


The other afternoon I was researching (thank goodness for the Internet) the fiber content of foods, especially foods readily available here. I did this for my personal knowledge so I would know which foods I could eat here to get enough fiber in my diet (after all, we know how important fiber is!). As I was researching I realized this information would also be helpful at the health center.

On Monday Medex called me into her office to speak to a patient about his diet. She said he needs help eating more fiber. Perfect, I thought, seeing as I just did all this research. So I sat down with him and I was able to write up a pretty good list of high fiber foods for him. It’s funny how things work out.

Make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet!

So, I think the rainy season is officially over because it’s HOT!!! I hope the dry season doesn’t last too long.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Phone Calls, Emails, & IM

One of the hardest things about being here is missing out on life back home. I miss home a lot and I miss being apart of things but I am SO grateful to have communication with my loved ones back home. I am so happy for phone calls, emails, instant messenger, Facebook and Skype (which is awesome by the way)!

I talked to my best friend, Andrea, for the first time in 6 months today! It was such a good feeling to hear her voice and talk about what's been going on in our lives. I really miss her, she has always been there for me and it's weird not being able to call or hangout with her when I need her the most. I got to hear all about her new baby and how it's been being a mom (still can't believe she's a mom!). And the best part was being able to Skype for a few minutes and seeing baby Reggie! I can't get over how cute he is, he looks just like his mama. I couldn't be more happy for her! I miss and love you Ange!

I also really miss my sister and it's good to know she misses me too! We mostly chat through IM on Facebook but it's still hard not being able to talk to her regularly or see her. I love having her as my sister and I CAN'T wait to see her again and be goofy you Aim!

I love getting emails! It's a great way to stay connected and I am so thankful for everyone taking the time to write me. It really makes me feel less left out. Please keep them coming!

Much love to everyone back home! Thanks for being apart of my life!

Morning Walks

Every morning by 5:45am (except Sundays) Chels and I lace up our tennis shoes and hit the gravel. I love our morning walks, even though almost every morning as we walk out our gate I say, “I’m so tired” but that is said a lot here.

The air is cool and the sky is painted with hints of orange. It’s such a beautiful way to start off the day. Our walks are a way for us to stay sane while being here. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to, as it’s a time we use to reflect on our experience, challenges and successes, it’s a time to remember our past and think about people back home, and it’s a time to get excited for future plans. I am really proud of us sticking to our exercise routine.

This experience is not solely about the “work” I am doing or how many projects I take on. It’s more about the relationships I am building with other PCVs and the locals. I am so grateful for the friendships that have formed in just short 6 months. I know the memories I’m making here are going to be everlasting.

I think this picture captures life in Guyana quiet well

In other news…

This weekend we had friends (PCVs) come visit from other regions. And one girl's brother was here visiting from the States which was exciting (I can't wait to have people visit me!). It was nice having people here and showing them our site and way of living. We had great company and delicious food!

We are getting ready to start gardening! Yesterday (Sunday) we pulled some weeds and dug in the dirt (which was actually fun!) Then we made a confined area using scraps of metal left in our yard and poured on some chicken poop (manure) to get the soil rich with nutrients so our veggies will grow up nice and strong. I can’t wait to plant some yummy stuff!

It’s crazy how this experience is making me feel so grown up!

Friday, August 13, 2010


I received two packages today...such a great day!

One cannot describe what it means to get packages from home!!
I can't believe how much I miss simple things, such as tortilla chips. I ate my first tortilla chip in 6 months today and it was amazing!

I got so many great goodies, tank tops (for Barbados) cookies, CONTACT SOLUTION (now, I just have to see how long the red glasses indentations on the sides of my nose will stick around)...I got candles, granola bars, magnets, backpacks, nuts, almond butter!, lotion, razors, a can opener (no more cutting cans open with a knife!), COFFEE, maple syrup, a sweet moose bottle opener (that will get much use) and kids books (I am so excited to start going to the nursery school to read to the kids!).

Thanks Dad, Berna & Amie!

Thanks Mom & Dan!

Christmas in August...who knew???


Rasta is definitely bigger but she is still a little kitty

The cutest family

Our candle light night

Compost bin
I'm really proud of this! I can't wait to have organic, nice soil for our plants

Papaw Tree!!
Can't wait to pick papayas from this little guy

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy Birthday To You

Wishing my aunt a very special happy birthday!!!
Cola, wish I was there to celebrate this milestone with you!! But I am sending you lots of love and happiness! Thanks for being a great aunt and supporter! I can't wait to see you.
Happy birthday!
Miss & Love you!
We always have a good time together!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

6 Months

August 7
Can you believe I have been in Guyana for 6 months? Because I can’t! That’s about ¼ of the way through my service. A year and a half left!
Sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile; hope to have working Internet in the house soon.
Here are some of the activities that have been going on:
The health center staff and myself did an event to promote July’s Nutrition Awareness month and recognized the persons in the community who are 90 years old or older. Overall, it was a good, successful event. The idea to begin with was having the elderly club do a health walk, which turned into the club walking to the homes of the two women (one 92 and the other 98 years old) and delivering them a basket full of food and asking them their secret to living a healthy life. This then turned into bringing the two honorary women into the health center and having the staff, elderly club, and other people in the community give thanks to them. TV cameramen also came to film the event. With the support and help of the community we were able to provide the women with a good variety of food placed in each basket, including, a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread, oats, cranberry juice, wheat germ, beans, and peas, rice, toothpaste, a bar of soap, and some oranges and carrots. A nurse and myself gave health talks on basic nutrition and diabetes. Then the regional chairman gave a talk and members of the club sang songs. It was really neat to see the two ladies still very active and healthy. I went with a nurse and the cameraman to the homes of the ladies to pick them up and walk with them back to the health center. The cameraman asked the ladies a few questions and filmed them doing something active (besides being able to walk up and down the stairs) one swept her living room and the other showed how she still gardens. When he asked what their secret was the 92 year old said she ate a lot of fish in her day, which I found very interesting. I was glad I was apart of the event.
The Health Center
Chelsea and I finally couldn’t take it anymore…so we got crafty!
With the help of my housemates I now have a better functioning “closet” and shelving to place folded clothes. I also have a bookcase and “coffee” table. It feels SO good to finally have things organized!!
Within a week and in total we made 3 hanging closets, 5 bookcases (2 of which act as dressers) a table, and a compost bin.
Material used:
3 4’ by 8’ 1½ inch plywood boards (which the 4 of carried home)
6 3’ pieces of PVC pipe & rope (for our closets)
Bought a hammer & nails
Thank goodness for our neighbors who lent us their saws. We first started with handsaws and a hacksaw…yeah, not a great idea. Then we got a jigsaw, we used this to make Chelsea and Tim’s clothescase. Then our neighbor across the street said his cousin had a power saw we could probably use, which he got for us and on Sunday we cranked out the rest of the shelving, table, and the frames for the compost bin. We are super impressed with our work and creativity!!
I learned how to cut wood with a jigsaw and how to make bookcases. I honestly think our finished products are better than what you get at IKEA.
Yay, I finally have a closet!
This went from this...
to this
Both in my living room
As for our compost bin we used old scraps of wood (that were left in our yard) and chicken wire to make a 3’ by 3’ enclosed square.
Next, we are going to start working on making a garden. We already have a small papaya tree growing it just needs better nutrients.
August 2nd was a holiday, I love how many 3-day weekends we get! It was a pretty relaxing rainy day but around 3:00pm the power went out, usually the power only goes out for a couple of hours tops but not that day. For the rest of the afternoon and night we were without power, it was the first time we ever had to light candles at night. I found it kind of fun and peaceful. We used my new table and put it on the veranda so we could sit outside. We learned how to make and sew together paper books, ate dinner, played Banana Grams, and cut out pictures in magazines to make collages. It was so dark and quiet (without all the loud music playing) outside. I really enjoyed it!
I also finally got my bike so I am hoping we’ll be able to go exploring soon.
And I got exciting news…my mom and Dan booked their flight to come visit over Thanksgiving!!!
This is the view of the old Alumium plant from across the river
that explored a little