Thursday, November 04, 2010

Every Day of My Life: Travels through the Interior of Guyana

"When I wake up in the morning,
And I lay my head to rest
Every day of my life I am blessed. . ."

It became our unofficial soundtrack. Our theme song. Everyday of my life, I am blessed.

The lyrics quickly got bastardized, as ab-libbed activities were added. ("I am schlepping, I am schlepping, every day of my life I am schlepping," the team would sing, hauling thousands of pounds in luggage heavy with pharmaceuticals up muddy riverside slopes.)

But in the morning, people would quietly sing those words to themselves or loudly as a group.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Living It Up

Yes, that would be me.

More on my adventures in Guyana to come shortly, once I've confirmed that I don't have scabies, Giardia or worms. (Yes, I know I've been obsessed with contracting a parasite for years. However, now that it's very much a possibility, I'll admit that I'm mildly horrified at the idea.)

In the meantime, please consider donating.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stanley knows best

Less than a week after I flaunted my fake tan in a bikini, I'm spending my evening desperately trying to figure out the best way to cram my Therm-a-rest into my bag.

The tent was no problem (just take the tent poles out of the bag and pack the tent canvas separately). Neither was the sleeping bag or my clothes (everything in separate Ziploc bags with the air squished out). I even have enough room for not two, but three (!) knee-length skirts. But I just can't figure out how to best carry my Therm-a-rest. Rolled in my stuffsack? Or folded lengthwise and flat? If I strap it to the outside of my bag, will it puncture? Should I even bother bringing it at all?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Perfect Beverage

While in Guyana, I couldn't help thinking about Coke. I never drink Coke in my everyday life (except sometimes with rye), but in Guyana, it was secondary only to coconut water. (I drank it every day like it was that day in Pula, where Jay and I were exhausted and wandering the streets in +40 heat and finally found the perfect place to sit down and drink Coke.)

But no matter how much I thought about it, I knew that I could never so perfectly capture it in words as Matt Reimer, a YCI alumnus, did on his blog:

"I need to say something about coke here because the way we drink it is straight out of a commercial. After a tough morning under the blistering hot sun you sit down in a little restaurant which is nothing but plastic tables under a straw thatch roof. . .When this bubbly, sweet, ice cold refreshment hits your mouth you can't help but make the "ahhhhhh" sound that we all know and hate from commercials.

After being here for a few weeks though I find myself wondering how us Canadians or the USers even drinks this stuff. . .in a place where you're never really hot enough to really be enticed by a cold beverage I just don't see why. . ."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Family Ties: Volunteering in Guyana

The following is a blog post that I wrote for Youth Challenge International's blog. The original can be found here.

Jessica Lockhart has been a long-time member of the YCI family. In addition to being a YCI alumna (Vanuatu, 2006), Jessica worked in the Toronto office as a member of the Volunteer and International Programs Teams for more than two years. Now, Jessica is back travelling the globe- this time in Guyana. 

For over two years at YCI, I‘ve wished countless volunteers good luck as they’ve set off on their international volunteer placements. And for over two years, I’ve often sat at my desk, under the soft glow of my computer screen, wishing that I was in their place instead. Those two years afforded me a lot of time to wonder—if I were a YCI volunteer, and had the chance to do it all over again, where would I go?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guyana Videos

No need for words this time. Videos will suffice. More to come post-October:

Boat ride down the Mazaruni River.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Guyana: Business vs. Pleasure

I’ve always had a policy to never write about work, but to always write about travel. So, now that I’ve found myself fulfilling my dream of being paid to travel for the first time, it has put me a peculiar predicament. When work is the sole purpose of the travel, how do you separate the two?

The second limitation in writing about my recent trip to Guyana is that I was only there for a very finite period of time. And after spending more than two years working for YCI, I’ve become hypersensitive to the perpetuation of stereotypes by international volunteers, aid workers and travelers.
Travelers (myself included in this statement) have a habit of reinforcing stereotypes through their photographs, their words and their stories, particularly in the case of developing countries. They photograph children playing with machetes, but fail to capture televisions glowing brightly in grass huts. They make generalizations about entire countries, but are very specific about the peculiarities of individuals and situations they encounter. Travelers, in many cases, are no better than World Vision ads.
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