Hello all! The past couple of months have been, as the title suggests, quite a whirlwind of holidays, trips, camps/events, milestones, and everything in between! In order to catch everyone up, I have decided to do a series of posts catching y’all up on how I spent my birthday/holidays, work stuff, and perhaps most importantly, the new places I’ve seen recently.
30th Birthday: First of all (and this happened before my Kaieteur Falls trip, but I never wrote about it) I celebrated my first birthday here in Guyana back in September and folks, it was the BIG one…3-0. I wasn’t really sure how it would feel to celebrate a birthday away from friends and family back home, especially such a milestone birthday. But guess what?! It was the same as a birthday anywhere else. Luckily for me, I have three awesome ladies here in Linden that threw me a party on my actual birthday (Friday the 13th, duh duh duh, how fitting…) complete with hummus and falafel! How one pulls that off in Guyana, I’ll never know, but they did it! Big shout-out to Loren, Oriane, and Wendy! My host parents got to come, and a couple of other friends surprised me as well-they got to find out how I react to surprises…The girls also provided me with a list of 30 tasks that I had to complete that night and I think I at least checked off 25 of them, and the night was an absolute blast. I also received surprise birthday wishes and a gift (a mug/saucer set) during morning assembly from the teachers & students at my school. Just for good measure, and to make sure my birthday was celebrated fully and completely, we also held a party here in Linden celebrating all September/October Peace Corps birthdays, and the fact that GUY 25s were finally past our 3-month mark and able to travel. The “Linden Ladies”, as the 4 of us have dubbed ourselves, even commissioned someone to build a picnic table for the occasion, and everyone that came got to leave their mark on it. And since I am the only GUY 25 here in Linden, I am the lucky recipient of said picnic table once the 24s leave in March. For any GUY 26ers out there, if you are assigned to Linden, I will be holding grueling physical/mental competitions to see who gets this beast when I leave 😉
Thanksgiving: Since this is my favorite holiday, and I was just coming off of a trip to Panama, I was a little homesick/post-vacation bluesy headed into Thanksgiving Day. It’s not a recognized holiday here in Guyana, so at least I had school to distract me during the day. After school we were fortunate enough to be invited over to one of the Linden Ladies’ coworkers’ house and we set to work cooking up a storm! Cooking for Guyanese is an intimidating thing since they take their food oh so seriously, and even more so when you are making foods they are unfamiliar with i.e. Thanksgiving dinner type foods. But we were undeterred, and most importantly, we had an OVEN–a rare luxury in most PC houses. After hours of slaving away, all of the food was ready and all of the guests had arrived. We all went around before we ate and said what we were thankful for, and my favorite answer, from one of the kids was, “I’m thankful for Church’s chicken.” Dinner was a huge hit, and we ended up having such a fun time introducing our Guyanese friends to Thanksgiving and all that comes along with it.
Christmas: We celebrated our Peace Corps Christmas on 12/21 with a “Christmas on the Coast” extravaganza, with the coast being the Essequibo Coast/Region 2. We have LOTS of volunteers in that region, so most of the rest of us (GUY 24 & 25 combined) hopped in cars, buses, boats and whatever necessary to make it out there. We did a Italian-themed potluck style dinner and a gift exchange–as per usual with this crowd, things got a little hairy–but I think everyone ended up with a gift they could appreciate 🙂 I stole a pair of mosquito net pants (yes, you read that right), a sweet Guyana-themed sweatband, a bottle opener, and a $500 bill (roughly $2.50) from another volunteer and for reasons that are beyond me, no one stole them from me–JACKPOT! The rest of the night was spent catching up and having kitchen dance parties. I made my way back to LindenTown on Christmas Eve and we made dinner consisting of our 3 favorite sides (green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and mac and cheese), had hollowed-out pineapple cocktails, and ate by candlelight at the picnic table. I spent the next couple of days (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) visiting all kinds of people–my host mom’s mom–where I got to meet and hold and love on my new baby host sister Tehillah (born December 2nd, also my dad’s birthday!), Nikki–the lady that runs the canteen at my school, and Donette–the librarian at my school. I can sum up these visits in one word: FOOD. I ate so much that I thought I might not need to eat for all of 2014…alas, here I am eating what’s left of a box of Hot Tamales that Oriane brought me from the States. But that’s neither here nor there. Overall it was a wonderful, chilled-out Christmas and I got to celebrate Guyanese-style with PCVs and lots of different people from my community.
New Years: I traveled back to the coast to celebrate NYE and visit a fellow GUY 25 at her remote site–girls trip!! See the upcoming post “What a Whirlwind: New Places Edition” for this story and pictures. Until then, thanks for reading!!