Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coconut Oil

Oh my gosh, I learned how to make coconut oil and I'm so excited!
The other day Medex and I were talking and she said she wasn't going to cook with oil anymore because it's bad. Somehow we got on the topic of coconut oil and that turned into making our own.  Mrs. Gibbons (the cleaning lady), who's become one of my favorite people here said she would show us.  So today I went to the health center to learn how to make coconut oil.  It was so cool. Of course I forgot to bring my camera but next week I'm going to make my own and I'll post it on Hobbit Food
Last night Mrs. Gibbons grated 4 coconuts, blended the small chunks of coconut meat and squeezed all the coconut milk out. She let the coconut milk set in the fridge over night and carried it to the health center today.  All the fat from the milk floated to the top, it looked like custard and then she fried up the milk fat in a pan and eventually all the oil came out and we got coconut oil. It was pretty neat and now I have a small amount of coconut oil to cook with!
I told Medex a jar of coconut oil in the States runs anywhere from $15-$30 but here I can get it for free! I can't wait to try and make my own next week.
It's moments like today where I think how cool it really is I'm here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Hashing Weekend

After 2 weeks of exploring Linden's backyard, getting scraped by bushes and having very muddy/sandy sneakers we had an amazing weekend hosting the Hash House Harriers at our site! Again, Hash House Harriers is a "running" group in search of finding the Hare (the person who set the trail or in our case just finding the trail). It's a lot fun and we've made a lot of friends since taking part in this activity, not to mention how it's given us something to do on the weekends.

So Tim, Chelsea, Tony, our new friend Belinda, and myself spent our afternoons looking for the perfect trails and I think everyone agreed it was pretty epic. People had a lot fun, I mean we took them through the old aluminum plant, through the back roads, they had to run down a huge sand pit, they went through people's yards, they had to duck under branches and walk through muddy swappiness, and then the next day they got to climb hill after hill, who wouldn't have a good time?
However, after 3 days of hiking I'm pretty beat. My feet and legs hurt and my arms and legs are a bit red. But seriously it was a lot of fun!

We set our first trail Friday afternoon, when I say set I mean we walked the trail and dropped piles of shredded paper (their clues) on the ground. It took us 4 hours to do this because part of the fun are the false trails (trails that end up being dead ends and they have to start over to find the true/right trail). So it took awhile for the 4 of us to plan the trail. While we were out Friday afternoon it rained on us for most of the time. We were soaked and had to walk through a lot of mud, we just couldn't think about what we were actually walking through. Then early Saturday morning we went out to set the second trail, which took place on Sunday. Then Saturday afternoon we did the first trail with everyone, it was so nice, we had about 2.5 hours before it got dark so it was cooler and shady. After we finished with the trail we all hung out and ate dinner at a park near the river, which was really nice. Then Sunday morning we got up, had breakfast and conquered the second trail, it was good but SO HOT, no shade.

All in all, it was a great weekend and I hope we host another Hash soon!
Saturday morning, setting the second trail, this hill was pretty steep. 

Saturday afternoon, Hashers starting the first trail

Running down the huge sand pit. I ran ahead to capture everyone coming down the hill, the looks on their faces was pretty priceless
Running through someone's yard 

Ducking under branches

Headed to the muddy swamp 

Oh yeah, they also had to cross a rickety bridge

In the aluminum plant

Where we relaxed 

The 4 Linden Hares

Sunday morning, trail #2, everyone climbing that big hill

Coming down a canyon 

Fun, fun, fun

We have been having a lot of adventures lately...and this coming weekend we are headed to Region 1, Shell Beach  to see big sea turtles. It's going to be an awesome trip, I can't wait!! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

A very happy father's day to my dad!!!
Dad, thanks for being my dad and for all your love and support! Wish I was there to give you a hug!

Love you!

I can't wait to go to the lake with you next year!!

Happy father's day to all those fathers out there!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Dream but Soon to be Reality

For the last few nights I’ve had anxiety dreams about returning home and working. In my dreams I’ve begun working at the hotel again but I keep messing up, I’m late to work, and I don’t know what I’m suppose to do. I wake up feeling stressed out for a minute before realizing it was just a dream.

I guess I can say I’ve had work, after Peace Corps on my mind. The realization of having to find a job is settling in and to be completely honest I have no idea what I want to do. My plan is to start school (prerequisites for nursing) in the fall 2012 and hopefully apply to the nursing program in spring 2013. But work will come before school. In the beginning of my Peace Corps experience I thought I would never have to work retail again but I’m starting to see that that might not be the best option. Once in school I’m going to need a job that is flexible and I’ll probably work part time. However, over the summer I’d like to work as much as possible and save money. So I just might have to look into jobs I thought would stay apart of my past like, waitressing, working at a hotel or health food store.

So, I’m asking you if you have any suggestions?

I know I have 9 ½ months until I have to really worry about finding a job but I’d like to at least have something in mind, to ease my mind and hopefully keep anxiety dreams at bay.

I know I shouldn’t be thinking so much about this stuff, as Chelsea said, “we have to keep our heads in the game”. There is still a lot to finish and accomplish before I return home and find another job. And in the mean time I get to enjoy the simplicity of life a little longer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Outskirts Of Linden

For the past 3 afternoons we have been exploring the outskirts of Linden looking for trails for the next hash run. I was blown away by the natural beauty that lies in Linden's backyard. These pictures don't do justest for how serene this place is.

Trail off the Linden Highway

The back side of the old Aluminum Plant

Some savanna & jungle 

The blazing sun in the evening over the savanna

When we came upon this spot I instantly thought of Disneyland (I want to go!)

The Demarara River

Sand hills at sunset

This run, that will take place on the 18th is going to be amazing! And I'm sure I'll have more pictures to put up.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"The Hardest Job You'll Ever Love"

After being in Guyana for 16 months I think I have a pretty good grasps on life here and the order of operations. However, this week has been rough. It started out really good and I was enjoying being busy. But by the end of this morning my patience grew really thin.
Life here is hard. And sometimes it’s so hard to see because there are so many things that tug at my heart but very little I can actually do. I can’t change the education or health care system. I can’t build someone a house. And I can’t be in 5 different places at once.
I’ve gotten accustom to the ‘just now’ mentality. I’ve accepted the fact that teachers don’t always teach like they’re suppose to. And I’ve tried my very best to be a good volunteer and put myself out there. But right now I’m feeling sad and frustrated about situations I’ve faced over the past week.

It all started with trying to meet with the Regional Health Officer (RHO) who oversees everything health related in Region 10. She is a busy lady and it’s sometimes hard to meet with her. Tony, Amy and myself want to start a diabetic program in Linden but we need her support and approval before we can start. We went on Tuesday afternoon to see if we could meet with her, she was not there. Her secretary told us to come back the next morning at 10am. So we all took the morning off to meet with her. When we got there her secretary said, “she is not here, I told you to come at 10am on Thursday”. The 3 of us looked at each other and then said, “Oh, okay. Thanks.” We knew she told us 'tomorrow' but oh well, we didn’t really expect her to be there. So Tony called the office Thursday morning to make sure RHO would be there and he was told she would be in after lunch, around 1o’clock time. So the 3 of us headed to the office once again and were told she was not in, but we could check back Friday or Monday.
Ahh, this kind of thing is so frustrating to me. They knew she was out of Linden for the week. Why couldn’t they have just told us, “RHO is out in Kwakwani until Thursday”? But people rarely say things like that because they don’t want you to know they are out of town so instead they give you the run around.
So we’ll she if she is there on Monday.

Then this morning it was one thing after the other (I know God is testing me). I reached the health center around 8:45 but the doors were still looked so instead of waiting outside for who knows how long I went to the nursery school. Before I got to the health center I saw one of the nursery school teachers on the road. She said she was coming back “just now” so I knew her class would be left unattended. When I went to the class they were playing and arguing with each other. They all gave me a hug and then immediately began fighting over who was going to sit next to me in the reading circle. Usually they scram to get their chairs in a circle, which ends up being a clump of chairs and them pushing each other. So today I lined them up against the wall and made a nice circle with their chairs. I told them if they wanted me to read they had to obey and sit nicely in the circle, which they did. After reading a story I taught them how to play Simon Says, they had fun with it. Next, one of the other teachers came to me and said, “Today is Share and Tell so have the students share the toy they brought and then they have to write in their books ‘today is Friday’ and draw a picture of a toy”. So after Share and Tell I passed out their books and looked for pencils. I had 9 students and only found 4 sharpened pencils. When I asked the other teachers if they had a pencil sharpener they said no.
It’s stuff like this that really gets to me. How is there no pencil sharpener in the school? I guess I should always walk with a pencil sharpener from now on.

I had to be at the health center at 10am for a meeting with Medex and this guy in charge of a youth club that I’ve been giving health talks to on Saturdays. After we were finished discussing youth club items he told Medex he didn’t get to eat dinner last night and woke up with a headache, blurred vision, and numbness in this hands. He asked her if he could have his blood pressure checked, she told him it was just his diet and that he needs to make sure he eats regularly. Then she told me to go and talk to him. We left her office and I went ahead and had his blood pressure checked it was high, 150/120. I went and told Medex and she said, “Oh wow!” She wasn’t even going to have his pressure checked after he told her his symptoms!

Also this morning the mother and the very malnourished baby from this post came in. It was good to see the little guy. He put on a little weight but is still so tiny. She seems to be feeding him better but his skin and head were full of scabs and bumps, it turns out he has scabies. And the onesie he was wearing was dirty and gross. I feel so sad for this baby.
It’s situations like this one that are the hardest because there’s very little I can do.

I know life is hard everywhere, not just here. But seeing these types of situations on a regular basis can be depressing and I can't tell you how many times the phrase, "what the heck?" runs through my mind.
But I guess that's why I'm here, to witness this type of life/ living and to give and help in anyway I can even when I'm really frustrated  with the system, people, life.

So the Peace Corps slogan is true, this is the hardest job I'll ever love.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

16 Months

It's hard to believe I've been in Guyana for 16 months. Time really has gone by fast and I'm truly on the downward slope.  It's weird to think back to the beginning of my service, the first few months in this strange land. My friend Heather was here visiting, which was a lot of fun and we talked a lot about training, how far we've come, our struggles, and what we have planned for the remaining months.  It's so nice to have people to talk to about this stuff and to know I haven't been alone on this journey.

It's so crazy to look back on training, the first 2 months in Guyana.  I came here not knowing anyone or what I was really getting myself into. I struggled with feeling like I belonged and finding the strength to come out of my turtle shell but like with most things it just took time.  The beginning (just like everything new in life) was hard but I found by believing in myself it wasn't impossible.

I've learned so much about myself and so much about life from being here; I'm so grateful for this experience.
But the thing I'm most grateful for are the friends I've made along the way. I can't imagine my life now without them and I know these friendships are going to last for a long time!
 Happy birthday to my grandma!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I have 10 months remaining. And in these 10 months I have fun, exciting things to look forward to and a lot I’d still like to accomplish in my final months of service. So why am I wishing time would speed up? Yes, I miss home and yes I want to start the next chapter in my life but I need to stop thinking ahead so much. I have to stop daydreaming about life when I’m finished with Peace Corps.

These next 10 months aren’t just about fun adventures and work plans. They’re more than that; they’re the last 10 months I get to be with my friends regularly. They’re the last 10 months I get to hang in my hammock every afternoon. They’re the last 10 months of island time. And I have to soak up every bit of these last 10 months.

I know life back home will be there when I return, I’m not missing out on too much but come April 2012 my Peace Corps experience will be over so I better make the most of it.