Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just some pictures


February 28, 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.

Morning Delight

February 27, 2009
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.