Thursday, February 19, 2004

Feb. 19, 2004

Many of you have been asking about a lot of the everyday
specifics of my days here in
Guyana, so I thought it
fitting to fill you in on a few.

First, all of you that grew up on a farm will really enjoy
this one...I actually am woken up every moring around 5ish
or earlier by roosters crowing. I, too, thought that was
only in the movies. Actually, many people tend to go to bed
very early by around 8-9 and get up between 4-5. That is
mainly due to getting a lot of work done before the heat of
the day hits. It is quite challenging to go to bed early,
though, as the homes are pretty wide open with windows open
and air flowing freely through much of the house. You hear
all the sounds of the night and the music is ever present
and always VERY loud. That and the people carousing and
dogs barking makes for a tough nights rest.

A few things that many of you may take for granted...First,
most people do not have shower heads and you have to bucket
bathe to get clean. Basically you stand in a shower with a
bucket of cold (there is no such thing as warm) rain water
and throw it on yourself and lather up in between. The rain
water collection system is situated with large gathering
tanks that is then hooked up to the homes plumbing system.
We do have a shower head that water occasionally literally
trickles out of that I sometimes use, but it is usually not
worth it. Next, washing machines....I am looking at it when
I look in the mirror. Yes, you have to wash all of your
clothes by hand and can be a very long process of soaking,
scrubbing, ringing, rinsing, ringing, rinsing...until two
hours later you walk outside to hang up two small loads. I
am now very appreciative of the invention of the
! Again, a couple may have a machine, but it is very
few and far between as money and water are a very scarce
Guyanese food is a whole other story as it is complicated
with the various ethnic groups. As the country was settled,
numerous different groups came into the country maninly due
to colonization and working on plantations. These groups
are of british decent, the people from
India, Africa, the
portugese and the chinese with the Afro and Indo-Guyanese
making up the majority. This is in addition to the native
Amerindian peoples. With that you can see that it makes for
a very diverse group of people that make up this culture.
Each of these peoples have different specialties when it
comes to food that are quite different. I will have to go
into them at another time. It has been said in the
Afro-Guyanese group that I am a part of that if it doesn't
include rice, it isn't a meal. So, needless to say, I have
a lot of rice, more rice, more rice.....oh and then beans,
black-eyed peas, fish or chicken and then a vegetable of
sorts. That is one very big plus, the unbelievable amount
of new and different fruits and vegetables. We were in the
market today bargaining at the various stands while
learning the new foods. It made for a very great lesson in
knowing how much is appropriate when you bargain for the
price you want to spend. Again I will go into more specific
dishes later...but, as for food, I will leave all the
wisconsonites with an interesting thought...powdered milk
is now a reality!!! Most people here have never even seen
bottled milk or thought about putting cold milk on cereal.
I remember asking for cereal one day and I got a bowl of
hot powdered milk on some flakes....they thought it was
strange to want "cold" milk!
Continues to be very sticky and hot. I have gone through
the last days of training pretty much sweating throughout
the day. Not exactly the funnest thing in the world in a
skirt!!! We have a big weekend this weekend for numerous
'culture days' for training. A celebration called
Mashramani is on monday and is a huge deal. I will fill you
in on that and the cricket game we are playing tomorrow in
the next email. Until ya, kristen