July 28, 2017
A highlights reel of my time in Guyana thus far
I’ve officially been in Guyana for 6 months! It’s odd, in some ways it feels like we have been here so much longer than that (thinking about being away from family, friends, food,etc and about all that we’ve learned/experienced) and in other ways I can’t believe it’s been 6 months already. In general, I think the hours go by slowly, the months quickly, and the days/weeks seem faster (or slower) depending on how busy it was. Part of why it seems less than 6 months is we’ve only been at site for 3.5 months and training was a whole different world.
So far I’ve only been to the coast in region 2, 3, and 4 – all of which we traveled our first day in Guyana. Now I actually feel pretty confident navigating almost anywhere from Georgetown to Charity though. Not bad, for less than a quarter of my 27 months. I can’t wait to explore the rest of the country.
We’ve officially had the first Guy30 volunteer ET (early terminate). She had a variety of reasons to go home, some in country and some at home. Even for the short time I knew her here, she proved to be a firecracker personality. Kind, compassionate, hilarious, intuitive, honest, fierce in the most unexpected ways, she is a great asset to wherever age resides/works. She will be sorely missed, but Guyana’s loss is her home community’s gain as I know she’ll do great things no matter where she is. That brings our group of volunteers to 37. (There are 2 other Peace Corps groups in country, with another one arriving the beginning of 2018.)
The next 2 weeks are exciting for me. This week coming up, I’ll be visiting home for the first time. There have been 3 or 4 volunteers that have visited home already. I’m going home for my little brother’s birthday. It felt like it took forever to get here, but I’m sure it’ll be over before I know it. I’ve been anxiously anticipating my trip home since my vacation was approved in April. It will be so wonderful to see all my family and friends, who have been so supportive of my Peace Corps journey.
The following week is one of our 4 Peace Corps in country conferences/ trainings. The first was our PST (pre-service training – the first 6 weeks in country), this will be our Reconnect, in April we’ll have MST (Mid-Service Training), and then around January 2019 we’ll have our COS (Close of Service) conference. Reconnect, MST, & COS we review what we’ve been doing since our last training, look at our work plan for the next stretch of service, and receive any appropriate/necessary skills training. COS will be focused on wrapping up our projects and out-processing. For each training, our whole group (Guy 30) gets together in town, so it is like a mini reunion.
So far my favorite Guyanese flavor is a sauce they call “sour.” Made from green mangoes, pepper, and a variety of spices, sour is most commonly served on plantain/cassava/sweet potato chips or “chicken foot” which remind me kind of chowmein noodles (the crunchy things that can come on a salad at an asian restaurant). But it goes well on a lot of different foods, pilori or egg/cassava balls can typically be eaten with them. The flavor varies by who makes, varying degrees of sour and spice, some people even make it a little sweet, but it’s always delicious. My favorite (so far) is at a tiny little stand at the other end of Region 3, so any time I visit a volunteer over their I make sure to get some. In Vreed en Hoop (the largest village near me) there are several stands that sell it. I’ve only tried one so far, it was delicious, but a little heavy on the pepper (my mouth was on fire), that didn’t stop me from eating it though.
Sapodilla (seen below) is probably my favorite fruit I’d never had before Guyana, it tastes like brown sugar, but it’s a tough call. While I’ve tried a lot of delicious new fruit pineapple (pine), coconut, avacado (pear), and lime are all locally grown here and reign supreme as my favorites, as they were at home. They have my strawberries too-but they’re expensive because they’re imported. The only fruit I’ve gone looking for and haven’t found are kiwi, and with all the other fresh fruit available I don’t really miss it. I’m convinced the mangoes taste better here than at home. Limes taste the same but have way more seeds and seem more acidic. They have the same bananas we do in the US, but they also have ones less than half the size that tend to be less sweet. There are so many fresh fruit juices here that are wonderful, fruit I’d never had thought to juice. To be honest I rarely get to drink them because I an constantly guzzling down water to stay hydrated. (Photo courtesy of pcv Andy Keen, I always eat them before I think to take a picture 🙂 )
The majority of the first quarter at site has been focused on getting to know the community and finding potential projects. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a few things though. I taught HFLE (health and family life education) at a local secondary school. I’ve done health talks at my break center as well as at local schools, related to nutrition, NCDs (non communicable diseases), STDs/STIs, teen pregnancy, etc. I also was able to assist with a Camp BRO and a Camp GLOW, run by volunteers from GUY28. Camp BRO has several recognized meanings, “boys respecting others” or “boys reaching out” seem to be the most common. It was focused on boys 8-15 developing life skills. Camp GLOW (girls leading our world) is focused on female empowerment and works with the same age range, talking about health and social issues primarily affecting girls.
Of all the things I’ve done in Guyana thus far, my HFLE classes have hands down been my favorite. The kids were insightful, eager to learn, and extremely welcoming. Dispelling myths was easier than with adults, but still more challenging than I expected. I look forward to working with them in the future.
I have several irons in the fire starting new projects, but this post is probably already longer than you wanted to read. So I’ll save future projects for another post.
Hope you have a wonderful day!
August 3, 2017
So I didnt get a chance to post this prior to leaving Guyana. My phone decided to randomly stop turning on. Not sure if it’s the humidity or a string of bad luck or what, but Guyana seems rough on electronics for our group. A lot of us have either had hard drives, laptops, tablets, or phones die (or some combination of electronics) since arriving. Fortunately I was able to warranty exchange while home.
Being home is amazing. I missed my family and friends so much, and my visit will be over before I know it. I can’t begin to express my appreciation for a truly hot showeer, good roads, and food variety.