Friday, January 05, 2007

Back to Basics

Blogger's Note: I've been back in Guyana for half a week, so there will be only one post. Hopefully I'll be able to resume the two posts a week next time. Happy New Year everyone!

After indulging myself for three weeks of cleanliness, civilization and delicious holiday food, it’s back to living the simple life. I was actually eager to step off the plane knowing that I would be greeted with warm weather after enduring the bitter cold 50 degree Texas climate. Five minutes after standing in the Customs line, I started sweating and all too soon remembered how hot it gets in Guyana.

During my first mini-bus ride back, I was crammed against three women, a huge basket filled with bananas, and the conductor straddling me since he had no seat for himself. If the driver had suddenly slammed on the brakes, my knee would have hit the conductor and prevented him from ever having children. I had never felt so close to a stranger before, not even squished on the New York subway lines. It was a nice welcome back gesture from the Guyanese.

School resumed immediately after my restful holiday. The second I entered the classroom, I crisply met reality when I saw a note written on the board by one of the students wishing everyone a “Marry New Years!”

I began the new term by asking the Head of Department what I could expect for the week. She optimistically let me know that if I wanted, I could start teaching. Then she quickly added that only 12 students showed up today and realistically nothing would be going on for the remainder of the week. After an uneventful morning, mainly consisting of the 12 students socializing, I asked another teacher what we could do this afternoon. “Same thing we were doing this morning,” she replied, “We’ll be staring at the wall.”

The next day I walked into the classroom to see a teacher with a ball of yarn and a crochet needle. Clearly the day will be just as eventful as the one before. One of the teachers broke out a bottle of Guyanese Cherry Brandy and poured me a glass. She quickly noted that the bright red beverage over ice resembled juice, in case any student sitting 5 feet away asked. Then, in the front of the classroom, four Guyanese teachers and one volunteer made a toast to fresh beginnings and the new year.

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