Alright people, I got my first taste how PCV lives when they are not in training anyway. Training is 8 weeks long, and all done on the Coast (can’t say where on the coast for safety reasons) except the 4th week when all trainees are sent out all over the country to experience Guyana. I was sent all the way to Lethem which is on the southern border of Guyana in Region 9 (Guyana is separated into regions). I was very excited about being able to go to Lethem at first because I had talked to a few PCV’s (that’s Peace Corps Volunteers for those of you who don’t know) and they seemed very friendly and spoke well about Lethem. Well, I was very excited until I heard that we would be taking a 16 hour bus ride from to Georgetown to Lethem. This didn’t include the boat rides and other bus travel we had to take just to get from where we were doing our training sites to Georgetown.
The Saturday before I left, I decided to layout on my balcony to balance out my tan. My chest was very white chest and my arms a nice bronze (okay well a redish brown because I don’t really get brown but more crimson) I decide to layout for about 15 minutes or apx 3 songs on my IPod, but the 4 song that came on I really like and surprisingly I liked the 5th song too. All in all, I probably laid out for about a half an hour and burned the hell out of my chest! If it didn’t take an hour to load one picture I would be glad to show the world. The only thing worse than having a bad sunburn, is having one around people that don’t get them, my good friend Lilly thought it was hilarious to tell all the Indo and Afro-Guyanese around me about my stomach and ordered me to lift my shirt up. For many Guyanese, I think it was the first time they had ever seen a white man with a pinkish-purplish stomach. I then had to explain how it felt which I replied, “Do you know what a belly flop is? Well it feels like that….ALL THE TIME!!”
When Monday morning came we left the coast for Georgetown. Guyana means land of many waters, so it is only natural that you have to cross some here and there when travelling. Travelling over the boat with my burn, wasn’t that bad except it tends to be a real bumpy ride and ever bump felt like someone was jabbing me in the stomach. Once we got to Georgetown things were a lot better and we pleasantly wasted time walking around shopping and enjoying a few tasty/refreshing beverages here and there. Now when you look at the map, and see Guyana, you might be wondering why is the bus ride from Georgetown to Lethem 16 hours? I mean the country is about the same size as Idaho! Well after the first hour leaving Georgetown, the road is not paved. The road is a red dirt/sand that when gets wet quickly forms massive potholes. Our bus rarely got out of second gear and was constantly swerving. Sleep didn’t come around easily, especially because I was the cool kid in the very, very back of the bus, where the bumps are the worse, oh and unlike this greyhound/charter buses in the states, this one had no bathroom on it! Also, somewhere between the 1st and 16 hour my skin on my chest decided to regenerate and itch like hell! Our bus only got stuck in the giant potholes once which the Lethem PCV’s told us was considered a really good trip because usually the bus will get stuck multiple times. However, when our bus did get stuck it was 2:00 AM in the morning and in the middle of the jungle. Everyone was ordered off the bus so that it could more easily get out of or with the help of the men, push the bus out of the 2-3 foot deep ditch/pothole we found our rear tire stuck in. Well thankfully, no one had to enter the pothole because a truck was driving down the road stopped and helped tow us out. In Guyana it is very popular to name your vehicle, especially commercial vehicles as one would name a boat. The name of the truck that stopped to pull us out was named, “Terror Squad.” Needless to say, I never thought I would be excited to see the Terror Squad at 2 AM in the middle of the jungle but you know what they say about assuming! Recapping and summing up the trip, we left Georgetown around 9ish and we finally arrived in Lethem around 12ish the next afternoon.
Once in Lethem, I got to meet many PCV’s and VSO’s (A kind of British although not just England Peace Corps) and of course more Guyanese. The Guyanese in Lethem tend to be more Amerindian and mostly mix but almost no East Indian with Afro-Guyanese sprinkled around here and there. Lethem, like I mentioned earlier is on the boarder of Brazil and there are many Brazilians moving to Lethem as we speak. Some Brazilians aren’t moving in but many are still setting up restaurants and shops and many more come over every day to shop in Guyana so to cut it short, you see a heavy Brazilian influence in the ever developing Lethem.
One of the best things about the week in training when you get to go to different site is that you get freedom! See while in training, you are kind of caged up, you have training 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you have a sundown curfew, you can’t drive a car (that part doesn’t change while you are PCV,) it is kind of like being in 7th grade all over again! Now the amount of freedom you get to experience of course depends on the PCV they place you with for the week and where you are placed but regardless, you get a whole week off of training and less rules. My PCV was a great person, very easy to get along with and pretty care free and same goes with the few other PCV’s that are in Lethem so it made for a great week. During the visit we got to see a handful of the areas schools, met the Regional Education Director of Operations or REDO, (I might be wrong on the operations word but close enough.) We also got to check out the river that separates Lethem from Brazil and a cool place called Moca Moca falls where I got to go cliff diving! Well not really cliff diving but big boulder diving. Hopefully, one day I will be able to put up pictures. The week was great and greatly needed, hopefully I am fully refreshed and ready to sit through another 4 weeks of training! Oh, what I forgot to write was that I was lucky enough to not take the bus back to Georgetown! I was able to fly and the flight was apx 1 hour and 35 minutes. I emphasize the word “LUCKY” because we found out we would be flying back and then halfway during the week we were informed the 14 seater plane was overbooked and that three of us would have to take the bus back. Well 2 people volunteered to take the bus, and for the third we drew a name out of a hat! Yayyyyy, I didn’t get picked! And slept much better and maybe even more on the plane then I on the bus! Anyway, hope people enjoyed the lesson and hopefully one day I will have pics to upload to go with all this writing because I know I have no hope for some of my friends to read this stuff without pictures!