Thursday, 6 September 2012

Things I will miss about Guyana

  •  The little scooters going by with the family of FOUR

  • Puri roti for breakfast

  • Speedboats

  • Friends

  • The rain boots that I'm leaving behind... 

St. Cuthbert's, Region 4, Guyana

And we arrive...

Passing by the Secondary School,
Health Centre
Building where volunteers stay, etc
See the post for the volleyball net?
Yep, it's the electric post!!!

Jamoon. The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice...

Tasted okay-ish

Down by the creek...

More black water...

Good-bye St. Cuthbert's...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

On the way to St. Cuthbert's Amerindian Settlement, Region 4

Digicel Top Up - Everywhere
Pickled mango and pickled everything!

One of the bigger - more famous hotels - just outside the main part of town

The good old rum... factory coming up.

Hilly, sandy area...
Turning off the main road towards the settlement...

They JUST got a new road

Here it is.... It went on FOREVER!

And finally... we get to signs of a community. :)
Stay tuned for the second set of pictures from this series...

Monday, 3 September 2012

15 Things I will NOT miss about Guyana

As much as we volunteers plan for most things, sometimes things come up outside of our control. I came to Guyana to volunteer for a year. That was my intent. But, life calls... and I have to go back home. Good or bad, here are some things I won't miss...
  1. Eating with a SPOON (especially a plastic spoon for take-out!)
  2. Honking car horns - especially outside my bedroom throughout the nights
  3. The hazards of walking down the street
  4. The garbage around town and at the Sea Wall
  5. The canals with the dirty, mucky water and overgrown flora (and rats)
  6. ROADKILL - Toads and rats
  7. Mini-buses with BLARING music
  8. All night parties - outside my bedroom window
  9. The roosters, horses, donkeys, dogs, and whatever else lurks beyond my bedroom window in the early mornings
  10. Frequent power cuts
  11. S-l-o-w internet
  12. The Sizzling HEAT
  13. The rainy season and the floods 
  14. The mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies, frogs and mice Critters that make me miss Toronto
  15. The cold water showers!!!  The rainy season brings colder water
Next I will talk about what I WILL miss...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The hazardous walk to work

For a long time I've been meaning to tell you about my walks to work. Somehow in the hot sun, I feel the danger is multiplied. When I leave out to work by the time I'm closing my door, I'm certain of the need for an umbrella. Either because it's raining, or because the sun is beating down in my back! As I get out the gate and start out down the road, I'm trying to cross the line of cars that is forming at the traffic light. Now, I'm only three houses down from the traffic light, so if they've passed my house and the light is red, they have to stop in a few feet. But you would NEVER know this from the speed with which they APPROACH!!!!!

I meander through the cars and head down the main road towards my office. Two men at the construction site feel they must call out to me. I reply and walk ahead. A bus conductor is trying to get my attention. This is normally done by pursing your lips and making a kissing sound. Except this is a looooong, exaggerated kiss. He wants to know if I'm coming to his bus... even though I'm heading south and he's on a corner going west. A man on his bicycle who is going west veers around and rides up beside me.
Good morning. How far you going?
I wonder why this is any of his business. I say good morning and keep walking.
You looking good today. Can I get your phone number?
Whaaaaat? Is he crazy? But I smile confidently and keep going. He is now riding beside me... The chatter and the offers keep up all the way down the road.

My feet are twisting on the uneven roadside as I try to manoeuver gingerly along. There is no sidewalk. There is sand/dirt at the side of the road if you would prefer to walk in that rather than twisting your feet constantly. What's the trade-off? Dirty feet? I cut a square around the leaky pipe that has left a puddle outside one of the shops. This is not easy. The cars going past at 90mph do NOT care if you need to step an inch into the street. As they go by I can feel more than a few of them as they whiz past. They're that close. Occasionally I whip my head around in horror as I realize my elbow almost left my side. This is no joke. A fellow volunteer was already knocked as he walked down the street. These are the daily rigours of Georgetown!!!  Walk STRAIGHT. Do not step an inch outside of your zone, because believe me, the driver speeding past has NOT calculated for that. And he is going to pass and raise the hair on your arms. If you have to cross the street, do not assume that when you turn around you can do so at a wide angle. Better step BACKWARDS as you turn. That mistake could cost you dearly!

By now, a dog has come running up to me. I remember how my housemate was bitten. I hold my breath and keep my umbrella handy. The dog jogs beside me. Oh goodie, one dog on the left, a man on a bicycle on the right. The other thing you have to watch out for is roadkill and animal droppings. Now, dog doo is bad enough, but, if a horse has gone by you have that to contend with AS WELL. If he went by a long time ago, it's just dried stuff you don't want to avoid. But, if he went by 1/2 hr ago, you're in TROUBLE! You definitely DON'T NEED THAT. But, this is not just up to your cute tip-toeing. If you're walking along and a car goes by, that stuff is kicked up by the wheel and splashes in all directions! YIKES!

The man on the right is frustrated about not getting my number even though he's offered to buy me a phone. He gives up just as I'm about to turn into the street on which I work. Good I don't know what I would've done if he'd continued to follow me. I don't really want him to know where I work. The one on four legs continues with me. Where is he GOING???

There is a HUGE lake across the street. This from all the rain that has been falling. The road has been eaten out and there is nowhere for the water to run. So, of course it only gets deeper each day. I need rain boots to cross here.  I make it across and finally get in to work. The dog tries to follow me in. What's up with THAT? But, at least he didn't bite me. And I'm now safely inside....

Monday, 27 August 2012

Living in Guyana's houses

Did you know that the walls in the houses in Guyana don't go all the way to the ceiling? Okay. Maybe that's not the case for EVERY last house, but that's the general style. Now I may have mentioned this in a previous blog, along with the fact that the houses are built on "stilts" in Georgetown since Georgetown is below sea level. (Hence the Sea Wall as seen in early posts).

When I was coming to Guyana I first heard about this phenomenon of dividing walls not hitting the ceiling. I immediately thought of those cubicles in washrooms that don't hit the ceiling or the floor. Hmmm. Talk about lack of privacy. I was maybe 40% concerned. After all, I wasn't moving here with my husband so there would be no hanky-panky with a house-mate next door, but I still worried about it. And what about the bathrooms???  But, I decided not to worry about it too much, as there was NOTHING I could do about this. So, I just hoped for the best.

I was fortunate. Very fortunate. The house I moved into was a regular house with full height walls! Of course, that probably also means my house is HOT since the walls that don't meet the ceiling are designed for better air flow and to keep the houses a leeeetle cooler. I've also seen some houses where the bathroom walls stop short too. VERY WEIRD. I think. Good enough I don't have to deal with THAT. But, here are some pictures of different walls as I've seen them since I've been here...

   No pun intended, but don't you think it's COOL? :-)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Inter Guianas Cultural Festival Experience

I didn't even know this existed and was currently on! Maybe it's because I don't watch Guyana TV or have an opportunity to listen to the radio. I do think it's the responsibility of my friends here to tell me what's going on... but, at least I stumbled upon it eventually!

What's this all about? Three countries, two hot girls, one fun night.

Guyana, Suriname and French GuianaWhat do you know about them? Did you even realize that all three existed? Did you know there used to be FIVE Guianas? British, Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese Guiana? 

Last night we were treated to a Fashion Show from Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana. But first, there was GUYANA NIGHT! It was interestingly depicted by a tourist landing in Guyana and being shown around the country. We heard the plane arriving, the "Welcome to Guyana" and then we see them as they head through the town.. and pass through the market. Lots of women colourfully dressed, the local newspaper being sold, etc. There's a point when the tourist asks, "What you got?" and the response is "WEED!". And of course he's introduced to all the different herbs and "bushes" used in Guyana. Then he gets offered Coconut Water (sung to Jamaica's Harry Belafonte popular tune). There is a masquerade (which we would call Jonkanoo in Jamaica), and then there was a Mashramani (see earlier blog post) staging. The tourist certainly enjoyed himself running after all the girls. They then moved into some reggae/dancehall presentations. We also saw a Kwe-kwe which is a tradition performed the night before an Afro-Guyanese wedding and also saw a Hindu wedding. It was certainly a good fun way to showcase Guyana - and the tourist surely enjoyed himself.

The fashions were distinctive and it was interesting to see the use of beads, feathers and fabric in the Suriname dress. French Guiana showcased different scarves used as a head-dress and then of course some more sophisticated fashions with intricate designs. Guyana did an entire history and showed how different ethnic groups arrived and dressed over the years. We saw Amerindians, Whites, Blacks, Indians, Chinese and of course, they ended with what the current children of Guyana look like. It was clearly one big melting pot.

Two Hot Girls
I attended with my friend and it was clear we stole the show! Haha.  We were at the National Culture Center - which of course has a dress code. No shorts, no tee-shirts, no jeans, etc. But naturally, we dressed up - for the night! It was fitting!

It was a fun night. I think I learned a thing or two. Did you?