This weekend I’ll have been in Guyana for 3 months… That makes it the longest I’ve been outside the country in one consecutive trip – and it’ll be several months before I go home for a visit. It’s an odd feeling; I’ve always loved traveling and experiencing new things, but living somewhere outside the US is a whole new ball game. It’s through the monotony of every day life (having a routine, going to work, etc) that I’m starting to feel like I’m not on vacation. Yet every day is new and different, presenting exciting challenges and opportunities. I can’t wait as I grow in my understanding of the Guyanese way of life. I always try to go where the locals go when I travel in an attempt to more fully experience the culture, but I realize now how little I’ve actually experienced. Traveling has kind of been like meeting someone for the first time, where everyone is on their best behavior to make a good first impression. Living here I feel like I’m actually getting to know the personality of Guyana and I’m sure that’ll only grow as the months pass.
Guyana I feel like is easing me into a new culture, as there are many familiar similarities along with all the new things I’m experiencing. Going to church is a wonderful example of this. The church building and style of teaching was vastly different than anywhere I’ve gone in the states, yet they did the same 5 things as a part of worship (singing, preaching, communion, offering, and prayer) and it was the same welcoming environment.
Being so close to Georgetown (the Capital) seems to make the similarities (especially in things like food) more common. But I’m making an effort to not lean on the familiar too much, except for the occasional treat, and live like the locals. After all, when else will I get this chance?
Let me take a moment to express my appreciation for mosquito nets. 🙂 The mosquitoes love me – I’m apparently the flavor of the month. I was initially using my pop up net but one of the zippers broke- allowing mosquitoes in. When I got my Peace Corps issued net up, let me tell you it made my week not to be eaten alive. Also, a lot of the nets here hang from a single hook in the middle and come out somewhat circular. I’m sure these work for people who are still when they sleep, but for people like me that move around in their sleep, it constantly comes untucked and lets the mosquitoes in. So props to the Peace Corps buying us the square kind. You may need 4 hooks but it doesn’t limit your space on the bed.
Another thing I’m unsure if I mentioned in my packing post, paracord is possibly one of the most versatile used things I packed for the unexpected. Like when your ceiling is too high for your net.
My Peace Corps experience thus far doesn’t really feel like it’s started. We had 2.5 months of training and now at our sites our focus is on building relationships and discovering things about our community. After all, what’s that saying, people don’t care how much you know til they know how much you care.
I was planning on coming back being fluent in Guyanese Creole, but most of the time I hear people speaking English – or even if they’re speaking Creole they throw more English in so it’s easier for me to follow. Maybe over time I’ll pick up more and people will use it around me more often. For now I appreciate that it’s rare I don’t understand someone here (and when I don’t it’s usually more that I can’t hear them than it is I don’t understand).
What I’m currently missing from home: mostly my family and close friends. My little brother is still by far the most awesome little kid I know and every picture I see he looks older and I know I’m missing out on a lot with him. I’ve missed things already that I would’ve typically been there for my friends and family to help get through. My mom is practically superwoman juggling as many things as she is- and I miss being able to steal my little brother to let her get more done (yes I usually opt for the fun job).
OK now that I’ve been sappy things that I miss: real (cow’s) milk for my cereal, my crockpot, and my car for easier access to things I need/want.
Things I’m loving about Guyana: it’s gorgeous – I know I’ve said this several times, but there is something enchanting about knowing you’re living in an area essentially cut out of the rain forest and even this close to town you see signs of it everywhere. The people, as a whole the country is very welcoming and friendly. The people I’m specifically thankful for right now are those at my Health Center – they’re extremely friendly, honest, and funny – and those at the church I’m attending – they’ve helped me to start feel at home here. (Not there yet, a part of me still feels like I’m just on a trip, but it’s a step in that direction.)
Something I’m excited about: I now feel comfortable with travel in the coastal areas of region 2 and 3. Soon I’ll add Georgetown and work my way through the travel system of Guyana. I’m also excited to be starting health classes at one of the local secondary schools; I was originally being like a guest speaker doing some health talks, but am eager for the opportunity to work with the students on a more extended basis.