Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The “real ting” here in Guyana is the food. The topic is on the lips of every passerby, every merchant, and volunteer alike. It is a source of living for restaurant owners, farmers, and market sellers. “What did you cook today, Lin?” is a common question from every Guyanese person who calls to check in on me. “You’ll have to know how cook for him” is a common piece of advice for brides about to marry. Maybe it’s a way of life, like in the south, food is such a focus for a lot of people, it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that Guyana is the same.
Today, we celebrated the gods of food by honoring an American tradition: Thanksgiving. The weeks leading up to this holiday in the states are pretty predictable. People get many canned goods ahead of time for the pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, corn dishes, etc. They buy the turkey when the grocery store has a sale on the biggest you could possibly conceive of buying. The potatoes are bought and are ready to be mashed to smithereens. The table is dressed the night before or the morning of, during the commercial breaks of the Macy’s Day parade. Appetizers are prepared; the chips and dip, the small sandwiches, the bite-sized delectable goodies all to tide over the hungry family members during the football game and leading up to one thing: THE DINNER. Everyone sits around the table. It’s the same in almost every American home.
Let me now paint a picture of a Guyanese Thanksgiving. Weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are spent doing the same thing we always do. Go to our jobs, sweat enough during the day to warrant two to three showers a day, navigate the insane drivers (LA and ATL has NOTHING on these drivers) in a bus or taxi, wake up with the roosters, avoid the pick-pocketers during the holiday madness, explaining our white or pink skin and purpose in Guyana to the millionth person who of course wants to marry to get a visa to the states, and finding something edible to eat that isn’t chicken feet, cow face, curried food, bread with peanut butter, rice with something (again), or channa. You can only imagine how the Thanksgiving food made all our mouths water, just thinking about the delicious home-cooked all-American meal. It was to my delight that several fellow PCVs had decided to brave it and try to cook a somewhat similar meal. I had intended to attend a fellow PCVs house in Mhadia (Region 8) for the holiday, after all, why not see a different part of the country and enjoy Thanksgiving with some friends? However, the fee for seeing this mountainous and cooler part of the country is a little out of my price range on our budget of $200 a month. I opted to go down the road to a community not far from me and join some of the townies in a more local Thanksgiving. To my utter delight, the hostess’ dad had sprung to send some money for a turkey for his little girl and her friends. The remaining meal additions were up to us. FANTASTIC!!!
Today, I’m proud to say, I had turkey (almost unheard of here), mashed potatoes, vegetarian casserole, biscuits, cranberry sauce, gravy, and appetizers. Of course, things were substituted, but that was no matter. Each bite was the best bite I’d ever had of any Thanksgiving food anywhere. To put it simply, living in a country where American food is not only expensive but rare, eating anything American-like is a pleasure unlike any other. And might I add, all of our food was fresh-straight from the market, made with all organic foods. Funny how in the states, a meal I had today would cost someone much more because it was organic, but here is much cheaper because it’s not canned or boxed. Then came the deserts. Oh sweet Jesus. The heavenly pumpkin goo (I can’t call it anything else), the apple pie (yes! It was better than Martha Stewarts!), the candied apples (thanks Mom) and real pumpkin pie. Again, all fresh and organic…well not the candied apples, but we’ll pretend it was.
To be honest, I thought today was going to be a let-down and a disappointment. I thought I’d be sad all day being away from my family and the comforts of home. Instead, I found comfort in my friends who were sharing today with me and each other. We all literally gobbled the food and I even got to take a plate home. We laughed. We told everyone what we were thankful for. We relaxed. We talked about our jobs, our frustrations, our accomplishments, our funny moments and as the sun set and we went back to our homes, I beamed from the inside out. Today was truly a memorable Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t have wished it any other way.
I’m thankful for:
- Real turkey and gravy on Thanksgiving day
- Being a PCV for almost a year (!!!)
- Getting complimented on my Creolese by other Guyanese
- Throwing together (at the last minute) an HIV/AIDS walk with my 15 grade six students
- Screens on my windows that keep out the mosquitoes
- The unique music I hear everyday
- Running water at any point during the day
- Having electricity
- Having a fridge if not for anything else except to have cold water
- A phone to keep in touch with anyone I want
- A host family that has become my family here and will continue to long after I leave
- The experiences I have had and will continue to have here
- Losing 30lbs on the Peace Corps Diet
- Not freaking out when I see a cockroach or giant spider or poisonous centipede or other creature that could potentially do serious harm or scare the daylights out of me
- Trying everyday to believe that the above statement is true
- Being comfortable just being myself
- Being able to laugh everyday, whether with someone, at someone (oh come on you do it too) or at myself
- My friends here and home who continue to support me no matter what
*see my facebook for pictures...it takes too long to load pictures here :)
Saturday, September 26, 2009
You set foot in a new world. That foot touches your new life before your head does. You are constantly catching up, constantly learning, constantly adjusting, constantly evaluating… Each new day greets you with a challenge and a blessing and if you figure out how to handle either one, then you’ve had a successful day. Tell me, then, how do you figure out your heart in a new world?
When I first came here, I was scared, overwhelmed and excited. There was so much to take in and so much to learn about. Slowly, it started to sink in that I was here to stay for however long. However, the more I experienced, the more comfortable I felt. Likewise, the more people I met, the more I fell in love with Guyana. The more I fall in love with Guyana, the more I want to do whatever it takes to stay here. I won’t lie, I miss home and my friends and family so much it hurts sometimes. But there is a very large part of me that fits here.
Despite these things, what your heart desires and what you actually get in life are sometimes different things. Most times, these are for reasons unknown to you until later in life unless you knew all along that what you wanted wasn’t good for you. It has happened that my heart desires something that life, for reasons unknown to me right now, is denying me. The Hindi saying for this is “Kutcha Kutcha Hota Hai”…in other words, sometimes things happen. Ben Harper puts it more simply: “Yes indeed I’m alone again, and here comes emptiness crashin’ in…it’s either love or hate I can’t find in between, ‘cause I’ve been with witches and I have been with the queen. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway, so now it’s just another lonely day, yeahhh… further along we just may, but for now it’s just another lonely day. Wish there was somethin’ I could say or do. I can resist anything but the temptation from you. But I’d rather walk alone than chase you around, I’d rather fall myself than let you drag me on down. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway, and now it’s just another lonely day, heeey…. Further along we just may…but for now it’s just another lonely day. Yesterday seems like a life ago. Because the one I love, today I hardly know. You I held so close in my heart, oh dear, grow further from me with every falling tear. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway, so now it’s just another lonely day, heey… further along we just may…but for now it’s just another lonely day. But now it’s just another lonely day… and now it’s just another lonely daaaaaaay….
Yes my friends.. Mr. Harper put it so eloquently-so direct... and while this experience is so much harder than I thought it would be, I know I’ll be stronger in the long run. Was there any drama that ended this relationship? Nope… just as Ben put it “it wouldn’t have worked out anyway”. I think what hurts the most was the expectation that a future was ahead…and how quickly that future was erased! Any messages of “time will heal all wounds” or “a closed door opens another” or any cliché things like that just don’t help…in my own words-this sucks. “Oh I could sparkle like a diamond, have silver line my soul, but no matter how bright I glitter baby, I could never be gold…”
Here’s to more experiences…hopefully my heart will be up to the possibilities.
“Roll!” “Pick she up” “Yeah…” “Vreed-en-Hoop/New Road!” “One mo, one alone, meh need one mo!”
These are the cries of the conductors and drivers of the buses in Guyana. Anywhere you go, you hear these short but very distinct shouts. You also hear the familiar kissing noises of those same conductors trying to get your attention. It works, believe me it works. It’s the operation of the public busing system here. It’s a glorious symphony of noises, actions, and people. The bus pulls up to it’s designated spot. Out jumps the conductor, sliding the door on the left side as he does. “Sis! Ya goin’ Berbice? Meh got special price fah ya, sis. Come, we leave jus now!” The conductor starts his (or her, very rarely her, but sometimes it is a ‘her’) salesman bought. It is usually some compliment to a passerby, some offer to take the bags they are holding and help them to the bus, or the promise of a smooth ride with a bus that leaves in the next 5 minutes. These are all most likely lies. But smooth lies they are…and wonderful tactics to draw the crowds in. And it’s not just one conductor, but about 10 or 15 in one area, all manning a bus, all working hard for the little money they’ll get at the end of a long, hot day. And all those conductors are shouting the same thing, at the same time, to the same one person in hopes that you’ll choose their bus and their bus will fill up faster. The faster the bus fills up, the faster you leave. That’s the trick to leaving fast. Get on a bus that’s already 50% or more full. You’ll leave within that 5 minutes the other conductor promised you 7 buses back.
The bus is full now, and you’re already sweating, beads down your back and on your nose and upper lip. You’re crammed in with 14 other people now, not including the conductor, the driver or the two people in the front seat. They want one more. A lady with a market bag gets on the bus and you suddenly wonder where the conductor is going to sit. No worries, they cram the lady next to the person in front of you saying, “Bai, gimmie a lil’ squeeze, na”. Somehow the guy closest to the window scoots one millimeter to the right and all four people fit in one seat, comfortably. The conductor slides the door close and leans halfway out the window, still kissing at any passing pedestrians. The driver honks his horn, made to sound like a trumpet that plays 5 notes over and over until it fades out. He’s alerting the other drivers that he’s coming and they shouldn’t pull out in front of him. I’ll have to write about the horn system later. Off we go. Breeze flows in through the open windows, and you can breathe a sigh of relieve for the breeze that instantly cools you and everyone around you off. Now you just have to keep watch for your stop. Be vigilant. Hold onto your bags. Have your money or your change ready. Here it comes now…ready? “Conducta!” He turns his head. “Corner comin’ up!”… “Corner comin’ up!”, he yells to the driver. The lady in front of you sucks her teeth. This means she has to move to let you out. Oh well, let her suck her teeth in frustration. The bus shrieks to a stop. The conductor slides open the door, the lady in front of you gets out, leaving you 2 inches to get out yourself and pay the man who spends his life in the wind. You pay, collect your change and the bus takes off with you still standing there gathering your bearings… the sliding door closing as the bus gains speed.
Let me explain something to you…in Guyana, oh wonderful Guyana, to get around you MUST take a “cyar”, “bus”, or “tapier” unless you have your own vehicle, bike, or motorcycle. Being a PCV, most walk to where they’re going if it’s within a mile or two or you take one of the three public transportation vehicles; this is because no volunteer drives due to complicated rules and policies so that includes a car or motorcycle. From personal experience, I say take a car/”cyar” (ke-yar), it’s less people to deal with and it’s more comfortable than squeezing into a tapier or a bus, but it’s sometimes more expensive. But enough about the logical parts of travel, for now, I speak purely about the system.
Here in the land of Guyanese people, things are done slightly differently. This would be an obvious deduction of any foreigner visiting, but for the Peace Corps Volunteer, you take on this world because it is your life for two years, give or take, and it doesn’t seem so different to you after so many months. I, for one, am personally impressed with the busing system here. It’s more of a glorified hitch-hiking system, but still, it’s got some really unique points to it. ‘I’m a little foggy about this busing system you speak of Lindsay, can you explain more?’ Well sure!
Picture this: You come out of your house and it’s 8:20am. You have to be at work by 9:00 the latest. You live a total of 30 minutes away from work and it looks like it’s going to be sunshine all the way. Think you’ll make it? Well normally we’d be inclined to say, duh! But here, you’re pushing it. You’ll make it, but only by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin. Every morning I wake up around 6:00 or 6:30. This is late by Guyanese standards. Whatever. I wake up, shower, make breakfast and lunch (yes, I’m a planner now… shocking I know), and get ready for school. I pack whatever I need to get through the day and make sure I’ve got my money ready, my keys in hand, my cell phone charged and in my purse, and my bottle of water. I head out to the road. Lucky for me, I live right on the main road. This means I could potentially catch a ride to the next drop off point within minutes, or it could mean that every living being passes me by within a 15 minute period. Confused? Just wait.
I stand at the end of the driveway and wave my hand in a nonchalant manner, so as not to give anyone the wrong impression. Buses will pass and the driver points in one direction, the conductor leans out the window and kisses at me. No, he doesn’t want to date me (although I do get proposed to at least once a week if not more), he wants to know if I need a ride to Georgetown. No, I’m not going there…I need to get to the junction. He drives on. A car pulls up. “Miss, you go de junction?” “Yes, you goin’ deh?” “Yes, Miss.” I am called ‘Miss’ because I am a teacher. I get in the back seat. Today I’ll be wedged in between two other people about my size (not large, but in a small car, we seem giants) and in the front seat will be two people. Hey, gotta get the most amount of fare, right?
At the junction, we all pile out, each paying $60, the price for a short drop. I walk to another part of the junction and stand for what seems forever. “Good Fortune, Miss?” “No, Patentia” “No, meh nah go dat far”… “LaGrange, Miss?” “No, Patentia” “No, meh nah go deh”… “Patentia, Miss?” “Yes!” My wait is over. I’m in another car, this time next to the worst smelling person I’ve ever met…or will meet for the day. Oh, it looks like he smells because of the bucket of fish he’s holding. Guess I’ll meet another person who actually smells like fish and isn’t carrying a bucket later. Joy. The ride is long. Yes, I live 30 minutes away, but we stop and go. You see, how the system works is people get picked up and dropped off everywhere especially if you are taking public transportation. It’s much like the busing system in bigger cities, ie Chicago. But instead of scheduled stops where you know where the bus is going, people just yell out where they’re going. One minute you’re sitting with 4 other people, the next you’re sitting with 4 new people and in the span of 10 minutes those 4 new people have changed 2 times. Each fare is different, $60 for a short drop, $80 to pass the river, $100 to get over the bridge, and $120 to get to Patentia, my drop. It only took 40 minutes today. Good timing! I’m 5 minutes late. No matter…I’m the first one here, aside from all the kids. But school starts at 9:00am, right? Right. ‘Just now…’
Monday, August 31, 2009
I feel out of touch with the world; like I’ve lost contact with who I am or used to be. I feel like a different person, “sinking, feeling…spin me around again and rub my eyes” and wake me up. The things I want and experience and do are all so strange from what I was and what I used to be. Now my strongest desires and my hearts pull are here, in the music, in the people, in the sunshine that comes up at the same time and goes down at the same time everyday…”where are we, what the hell is going on? The dust has only just began to form crop circles in the carpet, sinking, feeling…”
This summer has held many transformations for me, not to mention while not a lot has been going on with my job and my site, I have had a lot of time to travel and meet with new people. I know there are many more things and experiences to come for me, and as my mom so eloquently put it, if I gain nothing from this experience but patience and flexibility than I will be a better person for it. Since the beginning of June, 3 people have left, and now with one week left, actually the first week of school here, one more departs. Each has a different reason and each meant something unique to our GUY 21 group and likewise no one will ever replace them. At this juncture in my time here (now 6 months!), I no longer feel like an outsider, but a person indeed a “white coolie gyal”…the problem is that I don’t know how long this feeling will last and I don’t want it to go away. I wonder if this is how some of the older volunteers felt while others were leaving around them. Like being in a tornado and standing still while the world around you flies like mad. I feel like Imogean puts it in perfect terms… “mmm…what ya say? mmm…that you only meant well, well of course you did, mmm…what ya say, mmm..that it’s all for the best, of course it is mmm…what ya say, mmm…that its just what we need when you decided this mmm… what ya say, mmm…what did ya say?”
I apologize here for not keeping in better touch with several people. Trust me that I have not forgotten you nor have I put our friendships or our memories aside, but have been consumed and swept up in this country in all aspects. For instance, a month ago I wrote an insanely long letter to one particular friend and it’s still sitting waiting to be mailed out. Don’t ask me why I haven’t mailed it, I guess the “just now” attitude has taken over. Well with everything except what how I feel with my site. I’m a little impatient with progress and with seeing results or feeling like I’m actually doing anything. And I’ll most likely eat my words later on about me not doing anything. If anything, I can say I’ve successfully made some of the most wonderful relationships here with people from all walks of life and from all different backgrounds. And the thing is that I really love each and everyone of them.
My Creolese is getting better everyday. My Hindi has slacked a little from lack of constant lessons, but those will resume sooner rather than later. Would you like a taste? When you see someone next, put your hands together in front of your chest like you’re going to pray, slightly bow to them and say Namaste. Namaste in Hindi means “I bow to the divinity within you”. In Hindu culture, it is believed that everyone possesses a divinity within themselves. That’s not to say that each of us is divine like God, but rather that our souls possess this quality in which we are a part of God. It is a greeting that expresses respect and honor. Then when you’re done, you can say, “ai, bai (or gyal), meh like yah style bad, bai.” This is Creolese for I’m really digging the way you do things, or I like your choices/I respect your lifestyle. Now you have a little taste of what my daily life is like. Of course I don’t say these things to everyone nor do I encounter people who accept me right off the bat, but I try. Everyday I try. My mom laughed on the phone with me the other night saying, “Lindsay, I’m so proud of you. You have been eating things you wouldn’t normally eat here and you’ve been doing things you wouldn’t normally do here. You’ve really changed a lot since you’ve been gone.” I didn’t realize she was right until that moment. Not that changing is all that conscious until after you realize you’ve changed, but still. I guess my only wish is that I don’t change so much that I lose myself completely…meh nah know no mo’ bai.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I guess part of my funk is living up to the GUY 19 PCVs. These people who are leaving are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. When a PCV leaves at the end of their 2 years, they have to write what’s called a D.O.S., or a Description of Service. It’s really a glorified resume with a couple paragraphs about government shlop mixed in. Well one of these GUY 19 PCVs has probably one of the most impressive DOS ever. As I talked to him in the office yesterday I slowly realized how much he’s done and how little I’ve done. Reading through his DOS was depressing and encouraging all at the same time. This guy started his own NGO (non-government/non-profit organization) for pete’s sake. He also tutored, obtained computers for the NGO, got funding for a building for the NGO, never took a day of vacation, and did a myriad of other things. If I had to write my DOS now, it’d look something like this:
- Took free Hindi classes with a family at the junction
- Learned the names of all the teachers at my school
- Helped with Food for the Poor through a BINGO Fundraiser and Saturday morning Share-Outs
- Survived Dengue and still wanted to be a PCV
- Learned how to make 3 different kinds of roti
- Learned some phrases of Creolese
- Mastered the busing system of Georgetown
- Read 6 books
- Lost 30 lbs
- Got free furniture in a matter of 2 months
Ok…so it’s only been 5 months, 2 of which were training. I know there’ve been other things I’ve done and will continue to do, but man it’s hard to live up to these amazing GUY 19ers. I guess I could use the motivation from seeing or hearing about the projects, but I’ve been told that not everyone creates their own NGO, that not everyone learns another language successfully, that some people just worked at the health center or school and did things there, some people created a small group of women or men, that basically everyone is different and everyone’s work is different as well. It’s hard being in this limbo period, not knowing what tomorrow will bring or what my projects will be like or if I’ll be successful at all.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Let’s see… I’m no longer homeless. I’ve been living in what is called a bottom house for two months. It’s slowly been filling with furniture (for a good month and a half it had only a bed and a clothes horse/rack, stove and a fan). Now I have a table, a hammock, a second-hand shelf and fridge, my mosquito netting up, a rope strung to hang my clothes on, a second fan, curtains, and some things ready to put up on the walls. Things are coming around. Do I feel comfortable in my house yet? Not at all… but I’m trying.
The job. Well…it’s a combination of frustrations, confusions, joys, and social hour. For the first two months at site (I’ve been at site for three now), I went to school about half the time. Mostly because I was homeless for a month and kept moving and had to go into a million meetings, but also because there really wasn’t anything I was doing. My counterpart and I had agreed that the first two months (consequently the LAST two months of school) were going to be an orientation of sorts for me. Now, I can, with a 100% guarantee, tell you the names and the classrooms of all the teachers at the school, totaling 17, not including me and the headmistress (principal). During this last month out of school, Peace Corps had a week-long conference with our group and our counterparts in which my counterparts and I agreed to work on their library to get it in working condition and cleaned out/organized. We also came up with a great literacy program to try for the Christmas term (fall). So you might ask, well, Lindsay, what’s the problem? Well, as ambitious as we were in that conference, here it is almost August and we have yet to start on the library aside from design anything for the literacy program. I’ll be coming up with the test, but that takes about 2 hours to type up and print off. Being in a third world country, things take a long time to get done. I guess my frustration lies with this and with the frustration of working in the education system here, among other things. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving being in the Peace Corps and have had to really separate Peace Corps from the Peace Corps Experience (fellow PCVs you know what I’m talking about) so it’s really all you make it, but it’s just taking time to get into my own. Patience…patience…sigh.
Relationships: I’d have to say on the whole my relationships with other PCVs, Guyanese and Barry have pretty much stayed the same, with a few minor adjustments. 1) People came to PDM (Project Design & Management Conference) changed. This was to be expected, but to the degree at which some of them have changed is shocking to me. Some are very jaded by things that have happened in the 5 months we’ve been here, some have become partiers or slight alcoholics, some are very obviously depressed (totally understandable seeing as how I’m going through a bit of that too), some are floating on cloud 9, and some are still trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing here-I take that back…we’re all still doing that. 2) The relationships that people have cultivated with other Guyanese are also surprising. Some are still trying to figure out what these people we work with, ride with, shop with, live with, etc are saying or how they are behaving. I’d like to say I can understand the Guyanese a lot more since being here, but there are still days I’m blown away with misunderstandings and miscommunications. I’m pretty sure that’ll happen the whole time I’m here, no matter what. 3) Then there are the romantic relationships…some have blossomed, some have wilted and some have burned in flames, both for the good and bad. I would also venture to say that most all romantic relationships have resulted in an evaluation of communication skills, of safety measures, and of self. I say these things from experience and from what my fellow PCVs are going through as well. This is not to say that the romantic relationships are going badly, but they really force a person to define what they want, to stand up for what they want, and to constantly think in the other person’s shoes. Because of the cross-cultural differences, there have been some miscommunications and misunderstandings and almost all assumptions have been completely wrong. Truthfully, it’s been a lot of work and it takes away from things that people are here to do. However, if you can figure out how to balance your work and your relationships and how to stay true to yourself, you’ll be golden. Such is my quest. Haha.
On a side note and because I don’t want to end this blog all depressing and such, I recently filled out a fun questionnaire of sorts and I encourage you to do the same. Be honest with yourself and also be creative. Then give it to someone you really want to know more about, or send it to me and I’ll fill it out for your reading enjoyment.
1) Life is…
3) When I wake up in the morning…
4) I have a low tolerance for…
5) If I had a million dollars…
6) People would say I’m…
7) I love…
8) I don’t understand…
9) I lost…
10) Maybe I should…
Pictures of my house and school to come soon!
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ = “Me Wan Start Some-ting”
Baby Be Mine = “Ah Babes, Be Me Own”
The Girl Is Mine = “Dah Gyal Is Me Own”
Thriller = “Triller”
Beat It = “Choke He Up”
Billie Jean = “Dah Mad Gyal Billie Jean”
Human Nature = “Uman Nature, Mon”
Pretty Young Thing = “Dah Young Gyal Pretty Bad, Bai”
The Lady In My Life = “Me Mistress in Me Own Life, Mon”
Michael Jackson: History – Past, Present, and Future; Book 1
Billie Jean = “Dah Mad Gyal Billie Jean”
The Way You Make Me Feel = “Me Like Wha You Do Meh, Bai”
Black or White = “Black Bai or Whitie Gyal”
Rock With You = “Me Wine Wit Ya Mon”
She’s Out Of My Life = “Oh Radica, Why You Leave and Go?”
Bad = “Bad Serious, Bai”
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You = “Me No Wan Stop Lovin’ Ya Gyal”
Man In The Mirror = “Dah Bai in de Mirror”
Thriller = “Triller”
Beat It = “Choke He Up”
The Girl Is Mine = “Dah Gyal Is Me Own”
Remember The Time = “Dis One Time, Remember Bai?”
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough = “Nah Stop, Bai, Ya Get Nuff Nuff”
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ = “Me Wan Start Some-ting”
Heal The World = “One Love, Mon”
Monday, May 18, 2009
Let me further explain: first of all it's a chutney music song that's catchy and annoying all at the same time. Chutney music is a "form of music indigenous to the southern Caribbean, primarily Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, which derives elements from soca and Indian film songs" (Wikipedia). It's very upbeat and was first religious in nature and sung by families but has since caught like wildfire and become one of the most popular forms of music, aside from soca, here in the Caribbean.
The song, also followed up by three additional versions, has the following lyrics:
Since you leave me
I am alone
I am like a dog
Without a bone,
And I don't want to be alone
So Radica why you leave and go?
oh oh oh oh
So Radica why you leave and go?
To listen to it fully click or paste here:
Of course, there's Radica's reply:
Since I left you
I'm so happy
You didn't say how ill you treat me
You meant so much but not enough to me
Ah (I) had ah (a) right to leave and go
oh oh oh oh
Ah had ah right to leave and go
Again, listen to the song, it'll all make sense:
You might be asking yourself why I'm telling you this information. Well my friends, I hear this song almost every single day. It's in my sleep and dreams, it's at the restaurants I eat at, it's on the commercials and in the cars passing by. It haunts me. Now I pass it on to you so you too can have it going round and round in your heads all day long. Enjoy! It's a small taste of my life here in Guyana wherever you may be.
P.S. For background information about why the song is the way it is, click on this link. I didn't know this until today, so I thought it was interesting to add. Cheers!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I arrived back at my host family’s house (finally) on Friday late afternoon and rejoiced that I was back in a bed I wanted to sleep in, around the people who made me laugh at least 15 times a day, with clean clothes and a place I’ve come to call home for the time being. Last night, more people came and visited me, having thought for sure I was dying too, but it’s funny how rumors like that get around. They were all so worried about me, but at the end of our visit were all reassured that I’m almost 100% better and I’ll be spending the next week catching up. Oh, and I missed my host volunteer visit but will probably report this week about staying in Region H, Hotel and Hospital. Hahahaha… Yay for Dengue!
Pagwah- the celebration of Good over Evil, also the celebration of spring.
Poularie- round, hush-puppy-like bites of goodness. Made with ground split peas, flour, yeast, pepper, garlic, thyme, orange coloring; squeezed out into little balls and deep fried. Served with “sour” also a salsa-like dip. OH THE GOODNESS!
Prayers- each family’s prayers are different. Muslims pray 5 times a day, Hindus pray every morning, and Christians, well we all know when they pray J!
The amount of holidays, food, and family traditions are so diverse here there’s a different experience at every corner. This past week was the celebration of two holidays, one right after the other. (Technically, one is being celebrated for a week, but that’s beside the point.) On Tuesday, Youman Nabi was celebrated by the Muslim population here on the Essequibo Coast. Although my family is not Muslim, we had the day off from training, school, and work, as did everyone else on the coast. Our day was spent at the local “ball field”, or sports ground, watching cricket being played in a tournament. My host mom and I made Poularie to sell, and boy did it sell out. She’s one of the best cooks in town, sound familiar mom?? Not much celebration is done for Youman Nabi, as it is a solemn holiday, so Muslims in our community usually spent the day at church or cooking food.
The next day was Pagwah. I can only describe the exciting and crazy events through one word sentences, so here goes…
Powder! Colors! Food! Food! Food! Drenched! Joyful! Community! Music! Food! Food! Food! Drinks! Friends! Family! Laughter! Food! Food! Food!
Get the picture? All of Guyana celebrates this amazing holiday by waking up extra early to start cooking food. My host sister and I started celebrating at around 8:30 when a good friend of the family’s came over with a bucket of water and proceeded to dump one bucket each on my host mom, sister, and then me. We then dumped water on here… sound a little weird? Well then we ran to 3 or 4 houses and did the same thing to our neighbors. After we were finished with what the Hindus call “wetting of the skin”, we went to community houses and proceeded to get more wet, but this time were also smacked with different colors of powder (think baby powder but different colors). All in our hair, all on our face, on our neck, and on our clothes. My mom would have freaked at the mess… just kidding! J
All morning was a parade of colors up and down the streets and the music and dancing was everywhere. The smiles on people’s faces as we drenched them with water and powder and screamed “Happy Pagwah!” was a memory I cannot and do not want to forget. Although this is a religious holiday celebrated by the Hindu population, all of Guyana takes on this festive holiday.
Pagwah is continuously celebrated for the rest of the week and ends today, Tuesday March 17, 2009. Any persons with remaining powder will be looking to get rid of it and there will be final church ceremonies as well as an all out free-for-all. For my first three weeks here these holidays took the cake and I’ve not stopped having fun! What a perfect introduction to Guyana-it makes me not want to leave.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Rain. I wash my hair with it, wash the dishes with it, and bathe in it. It’s amazing what it does for the skin and my hair. Today, Cynthia (pronounced Cyn-tee-ya) was braiding my hair (also called plating) and she told me how soft my hair is. She said, “meh, Linseey, your hair soft, yeah.” She told me how she wished for soft hair and how when she marries she hopes her children will play with her hair like she plays with mine.
Today is Saturday and I’m currently sitting in one of two hammocks at my host family’s house. It’s upstairs and overlooks the village, or at least one side of the village. I’ve come back early from an all day cricket and barbeque event at the local cricket field. Early this morning, I walked down the road with my host mom and took food to the poor house. There, I also watched “fried rice” being made. Similar to what all of you have had in a Chinese restaurant, only this was fresh made and I got to help. It was made over a big pit-like oven, itself made of clay and cement. I spoke with a lady who lives in the “poor house” and we discussed my coming over to help volunteer in some hours during the week. Keep in mind, it’s pouring on and off during the entire time I have woken up and am over at the poor house. My host mom suddenly says, “Come, Linseey, take a ride with Rishma, we go to the barbeque.” This basically means, see this taxi? I’ve gotten a ride for you to go to the barbeque and on the way, pick up your sister…
Cricket’s an amazing sport, although I still have NO clue how to follow it. Many of the men went onto the field and took what looks like bats (only flatter) and swung as someone bowled a ball to them. I won’t go into details because it gets too confusing and even I couldn’t follow it. Two teams played first, although I was assured there would be more players and more games but because the rain had been falling and falling hard, there weren’t a lot of people there. Well, that soon changed and more and more people came to the field. Soon, people were buying beer, pepsi, water, barbeque lunches, and dancing to music with the biggest speakers I’ve ever seen used at a community event.
I started to meet many different people and all of them smiled so very big at me, it made me feel even more comfortable. I have yet to meet an unfriendly person. All of them sort of already knew that I was a Peace Corps Volunteer because the village isn’t big, so news spreads fast, but this is ok with me. It’s weird telling people that you’re a volunteer come to help Guyana, but they all love the idea of me being there. Plus, some of the other families here are also hosting, so many people know about the PCVs. Then I met a man who works with the Ministry of Education and just speaking with him encouraged me even more to continue on my journey here. He’s an Amer-Indian man who has worked with the Department of Education for many years, and his son now works with him as well. Speaking with the two of them about community literacy programs and motivating students was inspiring and idea-sparking for me. It makes me want to stay in Essequibo to help here and be around my host family instead of in the interior. We’ll see where I get placed, though. Right now, it’s too far down the road to tell anything about that just yet.
Tonight, I’m going to a Hindu wedding. It starts tonight and goes until tomorrow evening. Really it started a couple days ago, but tonight is a party, and then tomorrow is the ceremony. I’ll be wearing a sari and my host family will be dressed in formal wear as well. I can’t wait to experience that. It’s something that’s very privileged to go to, so I am excited to have been invited at all! I’ve already been asked, “Linseey, you drink, yes?” and “Linseey, you like curry, yeah?” and things like “Linseey, you dance and have a good time?” I’m sure more is involved than just that, but for now, I’m thinking it’s sort of like a movie a friend of mine had me watch and I’ll just go off of that until I really experience it.
In signing off for now, I leave you all with some phrases to ponder.
“Just now” which means in a little bit and really could mean anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours or even days.
“Take a breeze” which means come and hang out with us on the porch and relax while we talk.
“Gaffing” which means talking back and forth and sometimes talking in elevated terms, but always friendly conversation. It’s sometimes perceived as an argument.
“Yeah, mon, it’s ok” which means yes and ok all at the same time.
“Yeah” if said at the end of something means ok.
So, mon, you come just now and take a breeze with me and we’ll gaff, yeah? Love you all.
It’s morning here in Essequibo. I’m finally with my host family and have had a full night’s sleep (believe it or not). The first thing I wake up to is not my alarm on my watch, but the rooster outside my new house and the dog, Kujo, barking at the rooster to hush. Although the rooster is up an hour earlier than I intended to be up, I am awake. The more I’m awake, the more I listen to the noises outside my window. I lay under my mosquito net and I hear wild birds chirping and cawing in the jungle; I hear the next door neigbor’s bhangra music playing; I hear my host mom and dad outside giggling with each other while one sweeps and the other tends to the plants; I hear the taxis (more like minivans) hustling past the houses; and again Kujo barking at the rooster.
Today is Friday. Yesterday, I met my host family, an incredible Hindu family with the greatest laughs. As I relaxed in their hammock and chatted with them, I instantly bonded with each of them. There are four of them and I feel like it’s part of my own family from back home (the only difference being that I have a sister and a brother instead of two brothers). It is tradition that the host mom makes meals for you and helps you to learn the culture and the skills needed to do your job while in Guyana. So, my first meal was one of the best I’ve had yet: pumpkin curry, roti (a type of flatbread), chicken and a chai-like tea. Also, for training, our host mother packs us a lunch (yes, I feel like I’m going to elementary school only because I carry a backpack and a packed lunch, but we both giggled about it). OH my deliciousness!
As I continue to write this it’s now night. This day has been long. And today is also the first day I’ve felt really homesick. I’ve been overwhelmed and bombarded with information and homework, yes homework. All 33 of us had confused looks on our faces during the training. And that wasn’t even when it was time to leave and we had to figure out which taxi to take (haha). But, coming back to my host-home, my host dad was waiting outside by the almond tree for me. He said jokingly, “I was about to come on my motorcycle for you.” They care for me, take care OF me and make me laugh. So, I guess even though it’s hard to believe I’m here and really doing this Peace Corps journey, I’m here, and every moment that passes is another moment I’m living in true paradise.
Monday, February 16, 2009
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the Wind...
All they are is Dust in the Wind...
Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the Wind....
All we are is Dust in the Wind...
Now don't hang on,
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy
Dust in the Wind...
All we are is Dust in the Wind...
Dust in the Wind...
Everything is Dust in the Wind,
everything is Dust in the wind...
As I was sitting at Sonic (yes Sonic) yesterday with my mom, I had to point out that this wasn't a funeral for me. It simply is a move. Of course, that move is thousands of miles away and practically in a different world, but still just a move. It's also a move for others. A move away from seeing me everyday, from picking up the phone and calling me to tell me about the stupid driver in front of you or your day or exciting news. But, all of these moments will still happen. With or without me. That's not to say I'm not sad about not being able to share those moments with my loved ones, but I know that life will go on with or without me there to share in it....
It's amazing...it's amazing all that my friends and family can do. It's amazing, makes my heart sing...And I can't wait to share my adventures with you. I already miss all of you so very much it breaks my heart to think about it. You'll see....if it's meant to be, nothing can compare to deserving your dreams... And remember, everything is dust in the wind.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. "
But, the truth is, there aren't enough days to spend with the friends I already don't get to see that much; really there isn't enough time to spend with the people I DO get to see all the time either. You blink and the moment is gone. You turn your head and it's a different scene. Different people. Different situations. Different. Nothing ever stays the same. Things come and go...
The time here has been such a blessing. I am most comfortable here. Most relaxed and most at ease. A perfect send-off before such a raging adventure. But the worry about this adventure is still lingering in the back of my head. The worry of my new job, the worry of the new people and the worry of the little things-mostly and foremost the worry of the unknown. I know all of the answers to these worries will be revealed to me once I'm in Guyana.
For right now, it's just a lot on my mind. I know that sometimes I just have to let go, but up until that point, my head is swimming. It brings tears to my eyes to think about not having the people I care about most be able to go through this adventure with me. And not for me, but for them as well... I guess everyone goes through their own adventure in their own way, and I know this is mine, but the last question I have pacing through my brain is, where will this adventure take me?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Southward as you go....
There is moon light and moss in the trees
Down the Seven Bridges Road....
Now I have loved you like a baby
Like some lonesome child
And I have loved you in a tame way
And I have loved you wild
Sometimes there's a part of me
Has to turn from here and go
Running like a child from these warm stars
Down the Seven Bridges Road.....
There are stars in the southern sky
And if ever you decide you should go
There is a taste of time sweetened honey
Down the Seven Bridges Road.....
I can only hope for memories that evoke so much feeling and emotion as this song causes me to relive each time I hear it. Will I make new memories that make me stop and wish I could relive them in Guyana? Will I find things I've been searching for? Will I be able to fulfill my role as someone who makes a difference? Will I find that I've got a longer road to go before I'm truly content with my life, my self, my heart and my deeds? I guess looking back years from now, I'll know then....
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Here's what I know:
- I'll be leaving February 22nd for Philly to do staging (bascially an orientation and a gathering of the other members of people who are going with me).
- I can only bring 80 lbs of junk with me. That's 40 lbs per bag and one carry-on.
- Guyana is 5 degrees N of the Equator, so that means I'll have a curly fro for sure.
- I'm pretty sure I'll have email access, but it all depends on what I'm doing there and where I'll live.
- I'm going to be a Community Education Promoter. (What that is...I'll let you know more as I know more)
- It's going to be hot as hell, and there's going to be bugs, bugs and more bugs. Oh and snakes too.
- Guyana is the only English speaking country in South America.
- Their exchange rate is $200 for our $1. I'll be making $40,000 a month! WOOOO!!!
- The rainforest there is lush and practically untouched.
- I'm going to miss my friends and family so much, but I'm sure that 2 1/2 years are going to go by really fast.
I guess Nelson really knows what he's talking about, but I'll have to experience it myself just to be sure.