Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Feb. 11, 2004

So a bit more detail about the observances up to this
point. As I mentioned in the previous email, the people
here are really very, very nice. It is normal practice for
people to say good morning/afternoon/night to everyone you
pass even if you don't know them. This is more true in the
small village setting. As a woman in a country where
machismo is very high, it is also normal practice to expect
every group of men you pass to verbally "heckle" you with
hey pretty girl/white girl/white meat/etc.(those are the
nicer ones). The other thing that just about EVERY male
does is to do what is called 'sipping', which is to
basically do a kissing sound. You hear it hundreds of times
a day on the streets and in nearly every situation. One way
to combat that is to acknowledge them first and then it
tends to tame what could have been said. One big, big, big
problem here is the garbage situation. Pretty much the
people expect the government to take care of things (which
I have only seen one garbage truck in the city and one
trash can in my village). What I'm basically saying is that
there is garbage and animal feces everywhere. That is
really an understatement. It is something that they are
going to have to face as it is already epidemic at this
point. In terms of transportation, it is a crazy, crazy
experience. They drive on the left side, but really you can
expect to be on any part of the road until a car or pothole
comes. It is a bit like riding a rollar coaster really. The
main mode of transportation is the minibus, walking, bikes,
scooters, and even horse drawn trailors heading to town. I
will just put it this way in saying that there is a reason
why we are not allowed to drive and even if we could, I
wouldn't. It is a whole different world on these roads!
Even amongst all the choas one thing that is very important
to guyanese is their appearance. Your clothes are always
clean, pressed and crisp. Even if you have one outfit, when
you go out, you look nice. Unless it is for sports, shorts
are not really worn by women out. I usually wear a skirt or
capris with a nice shirt. Although it is very warm, sleeves
and pants are frequently worn. It is the cutest thing in
the world to see the hundreds of kids heading out of the
village in the morning in their school uniforms. The
temperatures are always in the upper 80s to 90ish with lots
of humidity. I thought it would be very challenging, but
you really do get somewhat used to it. You get used to
feeling a little "sticky" throughout the day and night. It
is actully not bad at all with a nice breeze. One of the
guys in PC with me, Mike and I headed to the local school
yard where all the local kids to younger adults hang out
and play sports in the late afternoon until dark. Yes, we
have already gotten into a couple bball games. It takes a
great deal of time to get accepted, but we were on a team
that won 5 in a row tonight, so that helps. I was actually
very surprised to see they were really good players with
the majority of sports focus here is cricket and soccer.
There is also a futball (soccer) game going on and lots of
people mingling around. It is just a great way for us to
get accepted in the community and really have people watch
out for you.
I have really been enjoying my time here and feel that
everything has been progressing nicely. The training is
very intensive and the people at Peace Corps
Guyana are
really, really thorough and good.
More to come.....
From, kristen