Monday, July 18, 2005

Belated Q and A and Stuff

Oh baby.

It's good to be back from wherever it is that I went, even though it was also good to be gone. I'll talk about that in a bit.

For the moment though, this update is going to be a Q and A session as promised. I'll sprinkle questions such as 'where have I been' and 'why is cheese tasty' randomly throughout to keep things unorganized and hard to follow. Enjoy.

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Q: Wes, aside from using a mosquito net and simply being rediculously manly, what are you doing to avoid malaria and stuff?

A: I was a bit misleading in my post where I talked about my mosquito net and how it was going to keep me from catching malaria, because I made it sound like that was my only line of defense. Actually the Peace Corps has been doing quite a bit to keep us safe. Since a week after coming to Guyana, I've been taking a drug called Larium, which is supposed to be very effective at preventing the disease from being established. That's kind of a story in itself because the drug is supposed to have the side effect of causing funky dreams and can supposedly be psychotically destabilizing but so far I've had no trouble ha ha. DIE!!DIE!!! Sorry about that. Anyhow some of the other volunteers have felt sufficiently weird to change to another drug. Since I always feel weird though, I'm not sure I'd know the difference.

Regardless, malaria is supposed to be almost non-existent on the coast of Guyana and is only a big risk in the interior. I don't want to spoil anything but I will say that I my permanent assignment is on the coast down here so you guys should be able to come see me without fear.

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Q: Wes, are all the streets in Guyana paved?

A: Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Not exactly. The state of most of the roads down here is not as bad as you might think though. In the post where I'll be at for the next two years for example there's basically one paved road that just runs along the coast, and most everything from there is dirt road sprawl. That one paved road is in pretty good shape though so getting around isn't huge trouble. Nevermind the fact that you have to take a boat to get to this road.

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Q: Wes, my life has no meaning without reading your blog. Why has it been so long since your last update?

A: Well, I said last week that we were finding out what our sites were last week, but what I didn't know was that we were being whisked away to visit our sites that Friday. So I didn't really get a chance to tell you guys where I was going until I got back a week later, and then the internet was down for 3 days because of blackouts and stuff. That and I don't really like you guys.

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Q: Wes, what is the food in Guyana like?

A: I think this question alone will be a good topic for a few updates, but I suppose I can give a brief overview of Guyanese food from my experience. Guyanese food is comprised of 4 basic constituents:

1. Rice
2. Stuff
3. Oil
4. Stuff fried in oil

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. Honestly though I pretty much had to use category #2 to make this answer manageable because there's lots of food down here. There's lots of Indian food, so there's no trouble finding roti, curry, dahl, or any of that swell stuff. Lots of fried food. Lots of tropical friuts and vegetables. Not a lot of restaurants. I really was surprised to find out that Guyana isn't really a restaurant culture, so Guyanese food is really what you end up cooking for yourself, and I'll get to this in the future. Overall though, I've had a good time with Guyanese food so far.

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Q: Wes, what's the countryside like over there? How 'bout that vegetation and jazz?

A: I've spent all my time on the coast of Guyana so far, where it's pretty flat. I understand that the country gets pretty hilly in the interior though. The coast has lots of palm trees, lots of green stuff, and lots of rivers, but I don't think you can call the coastal area a rainforest. The actual rainforest starts a few miles inland, and I'm still waiting to explore it a bit.

I really want to emphasize how many rivers are in this country and how totally flippin' humongous they are. To get to my site, I have to cross one river that's so big across that it takes about 30 minutes by speedboat. Yeah.

I'll get to this more in the future, but for now, the countryside is pretty nice looking and that's all you need to know until I post pictures and you see whether or not I'm a big fat liar.

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Q: Do most places have power?

A: Actually yeah. A few volunteers are being sent to places deep in the interior where they have to make do with a kerosene lamp at night, but most of the major populated areas have at least semi-constant power. My site only had two blackouts during the last week when I visited. Snazzy.

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Q: Wes, what is the favored mode of transport in Guyana

A: There's a ton of minibusses on the road that move around at about 4 thousand miles an hour and play reggae music on loadspeakers. There's a few taxis and every once in a while you'll see a non-taxi car that could easily become a taxi if you stick out your hand. Honestly though minibusses are everywhere. It's pretty much the mode of public transportation, even though they're completely privatized

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Q: Wes, why are your responses getting progressively less funny?

A: I'm getting tired of working on this post, which is going on too long anyways. I'll save the questions I didn't get to for later and just say where in Guyana I've been assigned for the next two years.

I've been assigned to work at the Johanna Cecilia Secondary School on the Essequibo coast. The place is going to be really cool. I spent all last week there at a place called Golden Fleece, which is near the lovely towns of Zorg and Abram Zuil for those of you looking this up on your maps. (Ha ha) Yes I'm going to live near a town named Zorg. Yes I'm serious.

More next week. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy July 4th Day!

Hooray it's a day of independence, unlike all those other days. Ironically today I'm back to being dependent again as I'm back from Uitvlugt and living once again with my host family. It's more like a day of unindependenceness, especially with there not being any fireworks here and all. Those of you guys that are having a fun 4th of July back home need to have some extra fun for me, figure out a way to convert that extra fun into cash or something, and send it my way.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that my 4th of July down here has been totally lame - on the 2nd the US Ambassador invited all the Peace Corps volunteers to his mansion to chill and swim in his pool, and today we all got to hang out at the Peace Corps Country Director's house in Georgetown. This was all cool but even with the hotdogs and hamburgers and brownies we're being showered with it doesn't quite feel like the 4th, so enjoy your explosions and picnics if you've got them.

I know that I can't get away with not telling you guys how Uitvlugt is, so here goes: Uitvlugt is about as cool as you could expect any funny sounding 8-lettered Dutch-named Guyana locale to be. Uitvlugt is about a half hour west of Georgetown, and it's not exactly a metropolis, but there's more there than I expected. I stayed with a volunteer named Eric, and he's just finishing up his two years and is about to head home. It was a great week just because it felt good to have some independence. On my first night there, we had some other volunteers from the area over and we made some pizza. Meeting some volunteers that are actually in service and not just training like me was good because it gave me a look at what it's really like being in the Peace Corps down here.

Most of the week was laid back because Eric's job was teaching, and school pretty much got out the week before I came. This was bad because I didn't get to see much actual work but good because I really just felt like relaxing anyways. Eric's house had an excellent veranda with a hammock that I got kinda attached to. I said goodbye to Eric at the party today because I probably won't see him again. Take it easy if you ever read this Eric, and thanks for letting me chill at your place.

This week we're back to training as usual. It's a little different and exciting though because I should know where they're going to put me in-country by the end of the week. I'm really excited to find out where I'm going.

Looking back at my previous posts, I realize that I've talked alot about what's been going on in Guyana but I haven't said much about Guyana itself. Since I could talk about pretty much anything though, I'll let you guys narrow it down for me by asking about what you want to know. My next post will be a 'choose your own adventure' post in which I'll answer questions that you guys ask me by commenting on this one. So comment and ask questions about Guyana, and I'll get back to you.

Arrr.