Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Grand Adventure & Thanksgiving

Words can’t really describe how it felt to have mom, Dan and papa here…it was a little surreal at first and I may have even experienced a little bit of reverse culture shock (weird) but I loved having them here!

I am so grateful for them coming to visit me and glad they got a taste of my life in Guyana. It was interesting for me to realize how settled I am and how this is my life, as I forgot to explain the currency to mom when we went to the market. And seeing their faces as they were crammed into a minibus surrounded by school kids in uniforms and them not understanding a word being spoken or having no idea where they were headed. But they managed just fine and did great walking around Linden. It was a lot of fun showing them around and introducing them to people.

It was definitely a jammed pack week; we did and saw a lot. We went all around Linden, traveled to Georgetown, took a small plane to Kaieteur, experienced a long bus ride to Iwokrama (note to fellow PCVs do not take a sleeping pill on the bus ride to Iwokrama/Lethem), enjoyed the beauty of the rain forest, cooked and ate a traditional Thanksgiving feast, and valued each other’s company. I loved that they really got a glimpse into the average life in Guyana; this was not just a touristy vacation for them. They met locals, saw the schools and health centers, experienced the crazy transportation, dealt with people harassing them, and of course there was no escaping the heat, although the weather was quite cooler while they were here.

I’m so glad I got to experience Kaieteur and Iwokrama with them. For me, it was great seeing more of Guyana and for them they got to experience the jungle/rain forest and the peace and quiet of being in remote areas.

I’m just so touched that they came to see me and it was so nice being with them. I miss them a lot already but I know we will see each other again soon and we’ll always cherish their trip to Guyana.

Thank you again for every thing mom, Dan & papa—love you!!

Enjoying snack before walking to the fall

So sweet



Our bus got stuck in the mud coming back
we had to wait 2 hours & got home at 3am

A caiman

Chelsea made a great turkey on our new grill

Simply Amazing!
I was so proud of us and so excited to have broccoli 

So grateful for these people

Love her

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am very grateful

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed

Do you even have those moments where you just feel so overwhelmed? I definitely did this morning. But I think it’s more that I’m anxious for my family to get here.

Everything was getting to me…like, the water pump constantly going off (I don’t know why it irritates me so much), the dang roosters crowing, the hundreds of aunts coming out of my wall, the wood shavings all over my bathroom from the aunts or termites, the mold in my shower, all the dirt that collects by my front door, the yard with all its over grown weeds, the smelly trenches and piles of trash along the sides of the road.
Thank goodness for Chels and Tim, who had to remind me I’m living in a third world country and things could be a lot worse.

Luckily today I went to the hospital kitchen, I really like going there it’s more relaxing for me than doing “work”. The people are fun, we talk a lot about food, and I get to try new food the baker bakes (she makes really yummy stuff).
Then I was on the search for a pineapple and although some men were annoying it didn’t bother me because I was on my way home to clean and work out my frustrations. I know I’ll feel a lot better once everything is organized and clean.

On a more positive note: this morning Tim and I ran 6 miles and it felt amazing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I seriously can't wait to see my mom!

This has been the longest I've gone without seeing my mom and it's been hard.
She is my best friend and my rock.
I love her so much and I'm so grateful she is coming to see me.

Mom, we are going to have a great adventure and I'm so excited! See you Friday!

Of course I'm so excited to see papa and Dan too!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's Talk Food

I love food!

I’ll be honest a lot of my down time is spent online looking at food blogs, reading recipes, and researching, as well as in my kitchen coming up with new concoctions (that’s literally what a lot of my food is).

I love to eat healthy and sometimes I can get a little nuts with it as I’ve been known to try an abundance of crazy diets (the lemonade diet, blood type diet, the low carb diet, and a month of eating solid raw food). I know these diets are not “healthy” (but I loved the month of raw food), I also know I don’t have a weight problem but I am a girl and definitely have insecurities. With that being said, I just want to make the most out of my body.
We all know diets don’t work, there is no magical diet or pill but still so many people struggle with this.
What it really boils down to is figuring out what is best for your body. Every body is different and it takes some time to figure out what your body needs to function at its best. I am a firm believer that in order to get optimal health it starts with eating right and making exercise apart of your daily routine.

To prove my point, Zach has gained over 20 pounds in muscle (which I can’t really believe or picture) but I love what he said, “eat for the body you want not the one you have”, which I think his workout buddy told him that but anyway, it’s so true! As long as I’ve known him he has talked about wanting to gain weight but wasn’t until he changed the way he ate that he started to gain weight.

As far as my body goes, I know it does not do well with gluten. I’ve toyed with this concept for some time now and when I cut gluten out of my diet I feel so good. However, being a Peace Corps Volunteer makes this difficult but I’m taking this time to experiment with foods and how they react to my body.
I’ll go a few days without eating flour, bread, rice, and I can see an improvement almost immediately, my stomach gets a little flatter, my feet aren’t as swollen, my clothes fit better and I feel like I have more energy. But the moment I eat something made with flour I feel bloated and my feet get puffy again.
Living in Guyana makes it really difficult to follow any sort of restricted meal plan and I’ll admit it has caused me stress. It is however, my goal to reduce flour from my diet as much as I can but I just can’t give up Pizza Fridays! And when I travel I really have little control over what I’m eating. So instead of stressing over it (because that really does no good) I just have to try my best and know that it’s not going to be like this forever.

I make sure to exercise at least 6 days a week, even if it’s just for 20 minutes (but usually it’s 40 to 60 minutes), not only is good for my body it’s really the only way I can de-stress here.

Today’s concoction:
Sweet potato, pumpkin, and carrot in a peanut butter, curry sauce topped with caramelized channa.
Today I'm grateful for:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Raining

Happy Saturday!

Sometimes you just have run. That's how I was feeling this afternoon and so I went and it rained on me, which I didn't mind. I actually really enjoyed it because no one was out on the street to stare or say ridiculous comments. Maybe I should workout in the rain more often.
Sadly, Tim and I have not been doing our Saturday morning runs. It turns out we were up to running 8 miles! I've never ran more than 3 miles in my life so 8 miles was huge for me! It also turns out I can only run far distances with a buddy. I can't run more than 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes tops by myself. So I'm hoping Tim and I will be able to start running together again soon, I've missed it!

I love (sarcastic) how everyone is like Captain Obvious.
"Baby, your walking in the hot sun"--Yes, I am. Thank you.
"Hey White Gurl"--Yes, I am white and a girl. Thank you.
"You're takin' in too much rain"--Yes, it's raining and I'm soaked. Thank you.
(Sorry if that's a little harsh)

I can't believe how fast this week flew by but that's good because only a few more days until family is here!
I only have to work 3 days this coming week, as Wednesday is another holiday!

Chelsea and I had a girls night on Thursday, which was nice. We made pizza (Tony was sick and Tim was gone). It was our first time making pizza ourselves and without the boys.  It turned out alright...I mean we ate it. I'm glad we gave it a shot. I definitely want to master pizza making before I leave Guyana. While we were biting into our gooey pizza the bed for papa was delivered, which made me very happy.
We also watched Americas Next Top Model and Glee and then went and got ice cream. It was a good night.

 I made a delicious breakfast this morning, sweet potato and pumpkin hash browns topped with creamy calaloo and pumpkin and I'm going to attempt to make caramelized chickpeas for snack tonight. It should be interesting. Both recipes will be on Hobbit Food shortly.

Things I am grateful for today:
~It being Saturday and me being lazy
~The rain, thunder & lightening
~New food experiments
~Today is one day closer till I see my mom!

I made a lot of pureed pumpkin today

And here's a picture to show how much I sweat after doing yoga (I'm not soaked from the rain but sweat)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When Your Jeans Fit Perfectly It's A Great Day!

I must admit…today was the first time in 9 months that my jeans fit me perfectly and I loved it! I felt like my odd self (minus my straightened hair). If you know me, you know I’m definitely a jeans girl but since I’ve been in Guyana I can count the number of the times I’ve worn jeans. I just think they are so uncomfortable here for 1) it’s way too hot and for 2) they have not fit well at all. Except today!

OK, now that I got that out of my system I can tell you about the rest of my day.

I spent the day in Georgetown taking care of some business and getting lunch with Becky. But before I can go on I have to describe the buses here and why I truly despise them, even more than hand washing my laundry.

I left my house at 7:20am and headed to the bus park. I dread walking to the bus park because it’s always the same…men pulling on you and yelling at other men to get you into their bus. They yell things like “just need one more” and than another guy will say, “his bus is not full mine is” usually I just ignore them and use my eyes to see what bus looks the fullest because that bus is most likely leaving the soonest.
But today that did not happen, instead there were no full buses, there were 3 buses lined up each one with 2 people sitting in them (usually the buses fill with 16-18 people) so I got in the first bus and prepared myself to patiently wait.
There was an older gentleman sitting behind me, very well dressed, like he was ready for town. He said I made the right choice and then asked if I was headed to town, I told him yes and asked if he was too. His response, “no, I’m just sitting here until the bus fills and then I get $100-$200”. (That’s .50-$1.00 US).
So the bus drivers hire stand ins to make their buses look more full. I was aware of this before today but for some reason him flat out telling me this bugged me and since another bus was filling up pretty quickly I said sorry and got out to go in that bus. I ended up waiting about 10 minutes before we were on the road.

The bus park in Georgetown is a lot worse as there are a lot more people, buses, and men yelling. This afternoon I found a pretty full bus and settled into my sit and waited and waited and waited, while my face was literally sweating off. The men kept saying they just needed one more person but that ended up turning into 5 more people as the stand ins made their way off the bus.

So the moral of the story…you can’t believe any of the bus drivers and you just have to play the guessing and waiting game. Oh, so fun.

Other than the bus situations my day was great! I arrived at PC office shortly after 9am talked with the nurse and safety and security coordinator.
On my taxi ride to the office I spotted the travel agency I needed to go to and it was actually not far from the office and I knew I could easily walk there, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to walk alone but after talking to Simeon (safety and security man) he said I would be fine so I headed out and I was so proud of myself venturing out in Georgetown all on my own.
I made it to the agency and got everything booked for our tours when mom, Dan and papa are here, so exciting! Check out the websites…we are flying to Kaieteur Falls (it’s just a 4 hour tour) and then we head to Iwokrama by bus (about a 12 hour drive…we’ll see how it goes) and we are there for a night and then head back to Linden, just in time for turkey! No matter what it’s going to be a great adventure!!

When I arrived back at the office Becky came and we ended up driving with nurse Jean and Simeon around town a little (see pictures) and they dropped us off at Oasis CafĂ©. I love this place as it reminds me of cafes back home. We each got milk shakes and little quiches. It was very yummy. They only bad thing, it’s pretty expensive but it’s definitely nice when I get the chance to go. Then we went to a grocery store and I bought some great things like dates, real sponges, and crunchy peanut butter (it was so cheap!). Then I headed home and Chels and I had an evening work out session, which was awesome.

Overall, great day!

I decided to take picture of Georgetown to share with everyone

This was on my walk back to the office
Thought of you Berna

Isn't it pretty?!? Yes, that's a big trench

Becky & I in the back of Simeon's Land-rover

A little street vending for ya

The roads are so congested

City Hall

Oasis Cafe

Becky got a chocolate shake & I got butterscotch!

Things I'm grateful for today:
~Safe travels
~Venturing out alone
~Booking tours
~Text messaging 
~Having lunch with Becky & her friendship
~Energy to workout
~Dates & dark chocolate
~Talking to dad & Berna

Sunday, November 7, 2010

9 Months

First things first, a very BIG Happy Birthday to Berna!!!! I wish I was there to celebrate with you but I know you are going to have a wonderful day full of love! You have been blessed with so much in life and just think of everything you have to look forward to! I love and miss you so much!!

Today I have been in Guyana for 9 month. Wow! I think the more shocking part is there are only 3 more months until I’ve been here one year. That’s crazy.
Also, we know the date the new group of Peace Corps Volunteers (guy 23) is due to arrive. That’s exciting.
It’s weird to be the one giving advice and sharing my experience, I remember not long ago I was the one researching and asking people all about life as a volunteer. Time really is flying by. They are due to arrive in February 2011 and that definitely gives us something to look forward to…meeting new people and helping out with their training and not being the new kids on the block anymore!

I’m also very excited the holiday season is upon us! It’s definitely going to be an interesting experience spending the holidays in Guyana but I’m so grateful I’ll have visitors to bring a little piece of home. I’ve been planning so much and truly can’t wait to have everyone here!

Today is day light saving meaning if you are in Utah you are now 3 hours behind my time and if you are in California there is now a 4 hour time difference :( 

I have a new found love…

I can't believe my 3 day weekend is coming to an was a nice, relaxing weekend.

Things I'm thankful for today:
~Having Berna as my step-mom and all her love
~Skype! It's so nice being able to see the ones I love back home

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Crazy For Coconuts

I woke up at 9 again this I'm loving that! Ate a bowl of pumpkin spice oatmeal with left over roti and went to the market. I heard 2 different Christmas songs on my walk from the market, it put a big smile on my face (I LOVE Christmas) but before I get too carried away with Christmas I'm so excited for our Thanksgiving feast coming up!

Saturdays at the market are always's usually Saturdays when odd things happen. As I was turning the corner to drop my laundry off (yes, I take my sheets and towels to the laundromat) this older woman with an umbrella walked passed me and as I said, "Good-day" she just yelled "White gal".  And then as I went to buy my typical pound of pumpkin this lady asked why I didn't want more but before I could respond another lady said, "they don't eat like we do".  Oh, got to love it here.

Anyways, as I was leaving the market I saw coconut man with all his coconuts and I got 2!
Look at how I walked home with them

 I was very impressed with coconut man!

Look at all that coconut water and for 1 US dollar!!

2 young coconuts
2 "meaty" coconuts 

It has definitely been a crazy coconut day! The only bad thing about coconuts, they are so hard to crack open and it takes a lot of effort to get the meat out but it's well worth it.

I made frozen and spicy beans for lunch today. Check out Hobbit Food for recipes!
I also made some fresh ginger and lemon 'tea' it was very comforting.

It has been a quiet Saturday and I haven't done anything too productive, but there's always tomorrow. Tony is back and I think we are going to get ice cream tonight! I love ice cream!

I got a call from Zach last night and he said, "how bout I come see you in 6 weeks?" [this has been planned for awhile now] it's just so exciting that it's so close!

Friday, November 5, 2010

In the Kitchen

It's almost 3 O'clock and I'm still in my PJs. That bowl of oatmeal did the trick last night and I slept until 9 this morning! It was awesome! I haven't been totally lazy today...I did all my laundry that was in my basket and I made 3 different meals!

I've really been into cooking lately, there's so much I to want to experiment with, especially since I'm having company in 2 weeks! I mean, I have to impress them with my cooking skills and introduce them to new foods, that's just part of it.

For breakfast I tried something new (it wasn't what I was hoping for) I tried to make an omelet with just eggs but the skillet I have sucks and my stove gets way too hot. I had this idea to use boiled plantains, which I meant to eat a few days ago, and mash them to make a paste and top with some ginger and green onions and then put that inside of my omelet. It wasn't the best concoction.  But then I ate some pineapple and was full.

For lunch I made roti and pumpkin. I've been wanting to practice my roti and figured today was a good day for it and it turned out great! It was like "real" roti that puffed up and everything. I even "clapped" it (well, placed it in a pitcher and shook it) I was so impressed!

Mom, I hope you're ready to learn how to cook Peace Corps Guyanese style!

I even made dessert. I had 1/2 of a coconut that needed to be eaten and after reading an article on coconut oil I got to work. I picked out the coconut from the shell and used the blender to chop the coconut and made some coconut milk. Then I took 2 very ripe bananas and placed them in the blender with the chopped coconut, a little coconut milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Blended everything together and poured into a plastic container and placed it in my little freezer. After lunch I tried some and it was so yummy but not all the way frozen (I still ate some though). I definitely have to make more of this!

It reminded of experimenting with raw food last year!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can't Sleep

Every night this week I've had the hardest time falling asleep, I feel tired but my mind won't shut off. I don't know whats wrong with me...

I went to bed at 9:50 and just tried to fall asleep but after lying there for 30 minutes and my stomach growling I decided (since I don't have anything to do tomorrow) to get up and eat! I really wish I had some cold cereal or ice cream but instead I made oatmeal with a little nutmeg (wow nutmeg is good).

So now I'll be browsing the net, looking at fall clothes (ah!) and reading food recipes for at least an hour.

So excited to sleep in tomorrow!

3 Day Weekend!

I came home today, did a load of whites (haha, I wish it was that simple) and "baked" some pone. Not a bad way to start a 3 day weekend. Tomorrow is Diwali (festival of lights) an Indian holiday, I have a feeling nothing big is going to be going on around here.
This is going to be my first weekend alone, everyone went to visit other volunteers, I was invited but decided not to go. For one, my landlady called me yesterday and said she would have the bed (that papa will sleep on) brought to the house sometime this weekend but who knows when that's going to be... second, I haven't been wanting to spend a lot of money since I'll be having visitors very soon! (and I have to go to Georgetown on Tuesday so that's going to take some travel money). And third, I'm actually looking forward to spending some quality time alone, there's so much I want to accomplish this weekend. In fact here's my list for the weekend:

~Have next week's lesson plans completed
~Complete Meal Menu rough draft for the kitchen
~Write letters, which are much over due
~ Finish all my laundry
~ Go through the mounds of paper I've seemed to accumulate over the past 8 months
~Cook something new
~ Exercise (I'm loving being able to do hot yoga)
~ Play with Baby Ziggy
~Watch a movie and or start a new book

I asked Medex if she had any plans for the weekend and she said no, I told her I might call her to see if she wants to do something and then she started talking about going somewhere in the jungle to explore so maybe that will happen...either way I know it's going to be a good weekend because I found this

Yes, that's a small square of dark chocolate. I went to Sherwin's (the shop across the street) and these were sitting on his counter! I can't wait to try it later tonight (after yoga)!!

also, 15 more days until mom, Dan and papa are here!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This. That. And Anonther Thing.

I’ve been debating to blog about the things I’m sick of…the heat is definitely number one on that list. But I’ll opt not to complain (somewhat).

Instead, I want to share my night last night and thoughts of today.

Keeping true to my family’s TOTB ways I was presented with an invitation to attend a Monday night church service and so I went. The only other church service I’ve attended in Guyana was during PST (Pre-service training) when I went to Mandir for 5 hours.
However, last nights service was nothing like 5 hour Mandir. It was actually really nice and I’m glad I went.
First, it started at 7pm and was across the river; it was my first time out past sun down alone. And as I was walking to the boat landing I felt very confident and excited to be alone. The boat ride across the river at night is so different than during the day, it was so peaceful.
When I got to the church singing had already begun and so I took a seat and took everything in. I loved the singing; it was up beat and very energizing.
A few minutes later the girl who invited me showed up so I wasn’t sitting alone!
Then the preaching started…over all, the message was good but I just found it difficult to get past the Preachers yelling at the tops of their lungs.
But I’m glad I went. 

This experience definitely puts things into perfect perspective.

Today at the hospital kitchen as I was sitting and cleaning bundles of green onions thoughts kept running through my head. Thoughts about my family. I must admit, I’ve been pretty homesick lately and I daydream quite often about life back home.
I was thinking about how much I miss my family. How I miss being apart of family gatherings, going out to dinner, going on weekend drives, or just being able to call up my family at any time of the day…
Then this got me thinking about how important family is. Family is truly the essence of life. And when I’m finished with my PC experience I can’t wait to be near my family again.
It has been my dream to live in Hawaii, at least for a little while but right now I don’t see that dream becoming a reality because I don’t want to be so far away from my family again. I’ll settle for a nice Hawaiian vacation instead.

Another thing I’ve been struggling with is my obsession with health food. I miss health food goodness and stores!!!
I really can’t complain too much seeing as I’m a lucky girl with a market available every day selling plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. And I definitely take advantage of that, although the lack of variety can be draining at times. Within the past 2 weeks I’ve bought 2 apples and they have been heavenly (apples are expensive here and I can’t afford one a day on my PC budget).
I just miss the foods I love and the convenience of health food stores.
Fortunately, to keep my health food spirits up I’ve found a great blog; it adds some form of comfort to my homesickness, which I appreciate!