The Fun That Was Peace Corps Guyana - Mark's Blog

Postings from just north of the equator. Let's see if training in CPR and First Aid prepares me to teach Health Education in a small, remote village in Guyana. I'm thinking... no. Read all about this ill advised decision! In addition, here is the required Peace Corps disclaimer: "The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps." So, please, don't confuse me with the White House Press Secretary.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Surreal Life

About a month ago I received a package from some of my friends back in San Francisco. It had a few good books in it and, strangely, a decapitated teddy bear. As my friend here said, isn’t that something a serial killer sends his next victim? Well, apparently that’s not the only time someone sends a cut up teddy bear. Non-serial killing friends from high school also do that. I then found a note with pictures at the bottom of the package. It turns out my friends were making fun of my puma experience. They sent pictures of them dicing up the teddy bear, apparently spoofing my pictures of cutting up the puma. Very clever. And then, to top it off, my friend wrote a letter mimicking my blog posting about it all. Oh, my friends are so witty. Just because I’m in Peace Corps does not mean I am immune to their mocking. You can take us out of high school, but you can’t take the high school out of us.

On to other things. I just had a friend come and visit for a week. That was a very interesting experience. Of course, it was great. I was very excited to get a visitor, someone new to experience this place. But you get a little apprehensive before someone visits you in Peace Corps. You want them to affirm all the hard work you are doing. You want them to recognize the challenges, both professionally and culturally, that you face every day. And above all, you want them to tell you that it is worth it, that you are doing good work, to keep it up. Well, you also want them to bring you stuff. I mean, let’s stop kidding ourselves. Keeping friends back home is only worth it if they a) are sufficiently in awe of your Peace Corps sacrifice and b) send you stuff. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Anyways, my friend came out here for a week. And she did not disappoint on any of those important points. She told me I was doing good work. She saw how hard the challenges were to get anything done. She saw how strange this place can be culturally. And she brought me candy. So four for four! Great visit!

I think my favorite thing she said about Guyana was this: “I’ve been all over the world and I’ve had some surreal experiences. But this, by far, will be the most surreal week of my life.” Now, she wasn’t trying to say this as a bad thing. She was talking not only about Guyana, but also seeing me here. You see, I’m very comfortable here. I may not have realized it, but having a friend come down made me realize how much I take for granted here as normal. Like cows, donkeys, goats, and sheep wandering the road. Like crazy mini-buses zooming down the road, risking the lives of everyone around them. Like how I say “good afternoon” to almost everyone passing me by. Like how I have little frogs living in my toilet tank. Like how I can slip into Creolese when talking with my neighbors. All these things I don’t even think about anymore. But she was very aware of it all and how different it is from America (and different from how she knows me). So I guess I can understand how this place would be surreal.

Despite the surreal aspects of this place, she had a good time. Or so she said. And I had a great time too. But it didn’t, strangely, make me want to quit Peace Corps and get back home. That was something I was worried about. On the contrary, it made me realize how comfortable I was with my life here. Yeah, I might be bored sometimes. Yeah, I might crave American food (or, more likely, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, etc.). Yeah, I might want American conveniences and luxuries, such as a washing machine (by the way, I will never complain about washing my clothes again in one of those things. They are possibly the greatest invention ever made!). But I can wait on those things. I signed up for two years, and I’m going to finish them. Not only that, I’m going to have a good time doing it. I’m going to get comfortable here and enjoy the ride. I’ll be back in America being a desk jockey jus’ now. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my hammock, the breeze, and a good book.


At 9:03 PM, Blogger Kat said...

Hey Guyana Man...

My name is Kat I am a current PCV in Suriname, and I was looking for some guest house info and general info on what to do in Georgetown when I come over for a weekend.

I have sent messages to every PC Guyana person I can find online and noone responds :(



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