Monday, June 27, 2005

Tour de Uitvlugt

Hey everybody. I'm in Guyana - Again! Not that I left or anything, it just sounded right somehow. Today was the first day of my fourth week of Peace Corps training here, but I'm stoked for tomorrow because this week of training is "volunteer visit week." This means that all of us trainees get to go visit a current Peace Corps volunteer somewhere in the country and just live with them for the rest of the week. We'll follow them around their villages and do our best to make ourselves obnoxious. My whole training group is kinda splitting up and going to different places tomorrow morning. I'm going west of Georgetown to a rediculously sillily-titled place called Uitvlugt. I'm dead serious. The locals pronounce it something like 'eye-flut.' I believe it's Dutch for "place of unpronouncability." You'll have to ask your local flying Dutchman about this one. Anyways the volunteer I'm visiting works as a science teacher at one of the village secondary schools, so it'll be cool to see how it works.

I'm excited about this because it'll be a good change of pace. I've referred to training in Peace Corps as "slave labor camp" in an exceedingly lighthearted joking kind of way before, but that's not really fair to the slavedriv- I mean well meaning Peace Corps staff members that have put a lot of effort into making training useful for us. I honestly do think that training has been pretty useful so far, even if it's just a bit boring sometimes.

My average day in training is either a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. We go to different places for training day to day depending on what classes we have that day. We usually have about 4 1 and 1/2 hour classes a day, and they range all over the board in topics. Sometimes the nurse comes in and tells us about nasty diseases that we might get, sometimes the safety staff comes in and tells us how to look less like rich robbable white guys, and sometimes we even go to different sites in and around Georgetown for tours of important places. Sometimes they takes us to the health center and give us a bunch of shots. This last weekend we were given a special tour of an Amerindian village a couple hours out of Georgetown. All this is good stuff, but it kinda wears on ya day after day for 8 weeks. I'm looking forward to just getting out this next week and relaxing a little.

Looking back at my last post now, I realize the title 'livin' like a parasite' might be a little strange, because it begs the question: Who's the host? Well that would be my host family of course, but the Peace Corps pays them rent to keep me around, so I really pass off the parasitism to you the tax-payer. Yay. Thanks for letting me siphon off a little bit of your life giving blood everyone. And thanks for commenting on my posts. It's cool to see who's checking in. I'll try to update again in a few days and let everyone know how Uitvlugt is, in case you can't make up your mind about your next vacation destination.

Peas out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Livin' like a parasite

When I left last time, I was just about to tell everyone about my first few days in Guyana. If you happen to have memorized every last excruciating detail of the timetable from my last post, you'd know that my first couple of days in Guyana were spent in orientation. Orientation in Georgetown was basically training for training. We stayed at a hotel in northern Georgetown and they kept us there for a couple days. They kept us busy during the day with a few seminars such as:

-Introductions from all the Peace Corps staff we hadn't met yet
-Safety
-What to expect from our host families
-What the rules were for during training
-How to manufacture the radium rods for the MEGA-DEATH-RAY-MACHINE without alerting the local authorities

Overall orientation was cool because it let us settle in to the country a little bit in a hotel and with each other instead of just throwing us right into a host family and weird food. The last day of orientation was a Saturday, and we met our host families then. Our group was split into a couple villages near Georgetown (think suburbs) and we were given instructions where to meet on Monday for the first day of training.

The family I'm staying with is pretty cool. They're Afro-guyanese, which of course means that they're all required to have afros by constitutional mandate 14B under penalty of death. It also means that they're Guyanese of African descent. That's not exactly a given here, because there are plenty of Guyanese that are Indian (from India), Portuguese, Chinese, and Amerindian as well. This place is an interesting melting pot.

My family has two daughters aged 5 and 6, and they like to keep my busy. They 'helped' me unpack and I spent the rest of the night just hanging out at their house. Sunday was the same way; Peace Corps wanted us to spend the first weekend here just getting to know our host families. The father works as a server/bartender at a hotel in Georgetown and the mother teaches part-time. The girls both go to school during the day while I go to training. I have my own room and closet, and they hooked me up with a fly mosquito net so I don't get malaria. Oh yeah.

I'll be with this host family for most of the rest of training, so it's cool that we get along. I'm working through my third week of training at the moment and for my next update I'll tell ya all about that and why it's definetely probably better than slavery/torture.

But for now I gotta get home. So long.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Training and ants

Alright now I know what everyone's wondering: when you spill some sugar or something on the counter, how do all the ants know it's there? This happened to me yesterday and those dudes were there in seconds man. The explanation is that ants have an innate ability which some in the scientific community like to call "psychic voodoo mystic jedi mind trick power" which makes them magic. And that's how they do it. Just keeping everyone informed here.

Now some people might also be wondering what the hey I've been doing since I left Colorado on May 30th. The short answer is that I've been in training classes most of the time. I just finished my second week of training and I have 6 more, so I'll be busy with that for awhile longer. There've been a couple other things going down though, so here's a quick timetable of what I've been and will be up to:

May 30th - June 2nd: Staging in Miami
June 2nd - June 4th: Orientation in Georgetown, Guyana
June 4th - July 29th: Slave Labor Camp (Officially known as "Happy Training Time of Sunshine")
July 29th: Swearing in
July 30th - 2 Years Later: Do Stuff

So yeah I've already finished my staging and orientation, and both were pretty cool. And even though I refer to training as Slave Labor Camp I think everybody should know that I'm just joking and that training is at least 4% better than slavery.

Staging was basically a bunch of meeting all the Peace Corps volunteers that were going to Guyana (and there was also a group of people going to Paraguay that were there with us) and hanging out and a few sessions on what to expect in country, how not to get robbed within the first 24 hours, how not to die from flesh eating bacteria before we see the doctor, etc. We did some skits and stuff and overall it was a good time.

There were 20 people in this Guyana team and most all of them seem like pretty nice people. Reading that now, it kinda sounds like something that the unibomber's neighbors would have said about him, but oh well I stand by it. Miami is a good place for money spending enthusiasts and there's lots of uh, stuff and things there. Some of us grabbed a taxi and checked out South Beach which was sure uh . . . something and then we left the country.

Our plane stopped in Barbados for a few minutes to let some people on and others off. I hear that a ticket from Guyana to Barbados is just a hundred bucks or so if I can find a deal, so I definetely think I'll try to get over there sometime in the next couple years. When we got to Guyana, we landed at the airport which is basically a runway that's nearby a warehouse/"terminal" that allows everyone to check through customs indoors. High tech. There were a few people on the Peace Corps staff waiting to meet us there. We got down off the jet onto the tarmac and walked toward the "terminal" where we checked though security, got our stuff and loaded onto a couple of minibuses that they had waiting for us. They hauled us to Georgetown and we checked into an undetermined number of stars hotel where they had dinner waiting for us. Sweet. Since it was around 10 at this time though, we basically just ate, heard a few introductions, and crashed for the night.

So now you all know how I got to this country. It's pretty fly so far, but I'm going to have to get the rest of this out later so that I don't go broke here at the internet cafe. Oh and also for those of you guys asking about pictures, they're coming. I might not be able to do pictures on this weblog until training is over just because I don't really have a computer that I can unload my pictures onto so I can resize them and stuff. I'll see what I can do, but for now you'll all just have to use your imaginations.

Thanks for being interested everyone.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Getting Started in Guyana

Hey everyone who knows me. This is my first post to this blog which I've decided to maintain to keep people up to date on what I'm doing. I've decided to do a blog instead of an email list or something because this is more flexible. You guys should be able to comment on my posts if you want, and I'll be able to post plenty of pictures here also once I get going. So spread the word, go to whereiswesstun.blogspot.com to find out where Wesstun is.

Right now I'm in Guyana, and I've been here for about a week and a half. This place is interesting and I wish I could tell you about it, but that would be too easy. Today I just wanted to set this thing up and see how it works. In the next few days I'll make a couple posts about the last two weeks and tell the true horrible story about the MEGA-DEATH-RAY-MACHINE that the Peace Corps plans to build in order to enslave the entire human race. Someone has to speak out before it's too late, but there's no rush. I'll catch youz later.