Pre-Guyana Preparation: Part III

And now for the final reason behind my going to Guyana: see that world. Is this everyone’s ideal dream? To “see the world”! What does it mean? I know it can mean different things to everyone. 
Some people want to literally “see” it. From a plane, from a cruise ship…laying eyes upon a portion of a piece of land that is owned by a government counts as “seeing” that country. Maybe I’ve tried to figure out layovers that stop in countries where I would need to change airlines and ensure a passport stamp for simply being in the airport, maybe I haven’t. 

For others it means: climbing mountains, eating at every pizza place in Rome, walking the Great Wall, boating down a river towards the Amazon, climbing to the top of a Ruin, looking out over the Grand Canyon, seeing a baseball game in New York. This is the category I typically fall into. I want to see the world via touring the world! If Trip Advisor says something is worth seeing or doing, well, I’m going to see or do it. And this is so much fun! You get to actually be IN the picture that you envy other people being in! What’s also great about these kinds of trips are what falls between the hot spots planned by onliners for you. Walking past the random alleyway that has a mural covering a whole side, or going into a random coffee shop and finding that it has both the best croissants AND wine in your neck of the woods. Those things…they rock. 

I went to Rome during my senior year of college for a ten-day “class”. We didn’t learn anything, just toured the city and the wrote a 5 page paper a month later. This was my first time out of the USA and I was so excited to be 1) going to ROME 2) be getting credit for a philosophy course that I otherwise wouldn’t have had 3) being in ROME with my best friend Heidi 4) feeling like an adventurous traveler 5) the amazing pictures I knew I would have by the end of the trip. 

The ten-days were actually as amazing as I imagined. Rome is incredible: the history, architecture, European classiness and demeanor, the food. Seriously, that food though…

When I came back after the ten days, obviously I wished I could have stayed forever. Does anyone actually ever not think that? I loved the city, the crowds, the Italian language, the Italian culture (eating and eating and eating). I loved looking around and realizing I was a minority, as the dominance in Rome is dark hair and dark eyes, rather than blonde and blue. I loved hearing a crazy mashup of languages being spoken at any given time–there were so many people from so many places all surrounding me. This was extraordinary to me. So you can imagine how much of a downer it was to return to my college, where we were (practically) all white and middle class and speaking English and not constantly eating pasta and gelato. 

Seeing this tiny glimpse of the world outside of the one I had known up until that point was enough to hook me in. I loved being surrounded by people who didn’t look, sound or (most likely) think like me. I was living my life with the viewpoint of me, and I discovered in Rome how many other people are living l lives with their own viewpoints. And this is really magical. 

It was a pretty quick realization. I wanted to be surrounded by people who were different than me. I wanted to experience what a being a “minority” was like (soon I would find out that a blonde hair blue eyes white girl is never actually the minority). I wanted to see the world, but also LIVE the world! Pretty revolutionary of me, huh? 

I wanted to live my life with people who were living their lives; but I wanted this to be done with people who I didn’t understand, who were seeing life from a different perspective than I was. I wanted to see humanity happen in a new context. I had seen it in the same context for 21 years! I wanted to see it beyond the borders of what I had already experienced. Was I going to stay in the same spot forever? There is an entire GLOBE of world out there. And there are people in almost all of those places! Why was I living so small when the world was so big? 

And so I went to Guyana. I challenged myself, I left my support system behind and I went to see the world. 

This is actually not Heidi next to me, just a stranger wanting this same picture.

Easter

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Right after he stuffed half his hot dog in his mouth so he could have both hands free to play with this tire.

Easter in Guyana means flying kites! We went with the young boys from the orphanage to fly kites near the sea wall for the afternoon and it was great. Kites are fun! IMG_2748 IMG_2759 IMG_2761 IMG_2762 IMG_2744 IMG_2745 IMG_2743 IMG_2724

Lil camera shy.
Lil camera shy.
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This was taken by one of the boys, pretty nice huh!?

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Lethem, Guyana

Jess, Matthew and I went to Lethem, a tiny tiny town at the only access to Brazil from Guyana, for a quick weekend trip in March. The trek there is a 17-ish hour bus ride on unpaved jungle/savannah roads. Describing it mildly would say it was miserable. Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy. The road being  called “unpaved” is even an understatement. It’s hardly a road, more of just a dirt or mud path with pot holes the size of houses and cars every few feet. It was rough. By the time we arrived at Lethem we were covered in dirt, sweat, dust.IMG_2609 IMG_2612 IMG_2617 IMG_2619 IMG_2622 IMG_2630 IMG_2633

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The savannahs aka Dust-ville, USA.

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“Border patrol”, which was a few polite and friendly immigration-officer-dressed men waving cars through. And way through there you can see the Guyana-Brazil bridge.
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Our first access to running water where I brushed my teeth on the way down. In the middle of nowhere (literally) and I hop out of the dust-covered bus to brush my teeth with my battery operated toothbrush at this outhouse sink. Back in GT, I had a week of serious stomach sickness–the universe getting back at me for using a fancy toothbrush with rain water in the middle of nowhere.
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Entering the jungle.

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Lethem itself is very quiet. The population exists there almost exclusively for the Brazil access point, and for duty-free shopping for Brazilians coming over to Lethem for the day. As Americans, we couldn’t cross the border without a visa, but we got to look at Brazil across a bridge!

After our bus decided it wouldn’t leave until 18-hours past our departure time, we stayed an extra night and tried to enjoy the peace and quiet of the desolate town. Then we had to endure the trip back. Don’t get me wrong–a beautiful landscape and scenery and really incredible to drive through the savannahs and into and through the jungle! But it was long and bumpy. Just really long and bumpy.

Election Season

Since the beginning of our year here we knew there was a chance of a presidential election happening while we were living in GT. May 11th is the day!

So far there are lots of propaganda posters, commercials and flags around the city. Nothing at all exciting–they’re very primitive and standard political stuff. Like, it kind of reminds me of a student body election in high school. It’s extremely different than elections in the States.

The current party in control is being threatened by “the opposition”, but no one is really sure what will happen election day. The current party has been in power for over twenty years, and the opposition is insistent that Guyana has gone downhill with the current leadership. The parties are almost exclusively based on race: the PPP-C being the Indo-Guyanese party and the APNU-AFC being the Afro-Guyanese party.

As in any developing country, there is a chance that the elections will get hasty, violent and out of control. We’ve been warned of past elections when food and water became unavailable due to stores and the market being shut down, people didn’t leave their houses after the morning for weeks and aggression was heightened around the city. Who knows what will happen with this one; we’re going to be prepared to lay low for a little while in case people get out of hand, but I’m also being optimistic that the Guyanese-laziness will shine bright and no one will want to put the effort out to be violent.

Either way, it’s been very interesting and enlightening to experience a political election in a way so totally opposite of the one happening in 18 months in the States.