Monthly Archives: July 2012

Let the festivities begin!

Mar. 9, 2012: Part 2

Phagwah celebrations!

Yesterday was a national holiday called Phagwah, or the ‘Festival of Colours,’ which is the Hindu celebration of Spring. People celebrate it by throwing water and coloured powders or dyes on each other! And that’s exactly what they did here in St. Cuthbert’s! The celebrations started a day early, though! After lunch on Wednesday, I was greeted by a huge pack of primary school students waiting outside our door with water bottles and handfuls of coloured powder! As soon as we came outside, they attacked! I got soaked with buckets of water and spray bottles, and completely covered in many different bright colours! The kids had a blast covering their teachers in dyes and powders and dumping baby powder on our heads!!! I pretty much let them go nuts and do whatever they wanted, and they loved it! I had kids painting my face, neck, ears, arms, and legs in as many colours as they could possibly find places for!! By the time they were finished, I looked pretty scary! The schools were all closed yesterday for the actual holiday, and the festivities began early!! As soon as I stepped outside yesterday morning, two different people poured huge buckets of water on my head! It was a lot of fun! Later in the afternoon, we had a cook-out by one of our friend’s houses and just spent the day relaxing and hanging out with the locals.

Result of all the attacks!

We also got to participate in another national holiday a couple of weeks ago on Feb. 23, called Mashramani (Republic Day), which is the day Guyana received independence from Britain. There are celebrations all throughout the country, but Georgetown’s is the largest, and many people from surrounding villages make their way to town to take part (us included!) It was quite the experience, and I’m so glad I got the chance to be there! Mash is basically just one HUGE party, where the whole country comes together to sing, dance, and drink! Thousands of people line the streets to watch the main parade of people dancing along wearing very colourful costumes, some of which represent the different Amerindian tribes of Guyana, as well as the different regions. There are also floats that are decorated up, and a competition to judge the winner is held in the main grandstand at the National Park. Many of the floats held towering stacks of loud speakers, and music was blasting out of them constantly, all playing different songs and different types of music! There were vendors set up all over the National Park selling snacks and drinks as well. The amount of people alone was incredible, especially at night! We had to push our way through the crowds and make a chain to avoid getting separated when trying to walk through! We also had to avoid getting run over by cars that were trying to make their way through the masses, too (and weren’t having much luck!) It was quite the adventure! We drove through the downtown area the next day, and the amount of garbage and beer bottles scattered EVERYWHERE was disgusting! The pollution is certainly one of the downsides of a national celebration like this, but it was definitely a great cultural experience!

I can finally say that I got to see some wildlife actually in the wild as well!!! Kendra and I took a tour one day that left from Georgetown, and was about a 12-hour day in all. We got to explore an old Dutch fort from the 1700s, wander around a mining town called Bartica, take a boat ride down Guyana’s largest river, the Essequibo (South America’s third-largest!) and do a rainforest hike to a waterfall called Marshall Falls. Probably the best part of the day was actually getting in the water and sitting underneath the waterfall though!! It was amazing! It was only about 30 feet high, but the current was still extremely strong! I was holding on tight to the rocks to avoid being swept away as the water pounded my head and back and almost pulled my shorts off! One of the tour company’s staff got some pretty funny pictures of me struggling! On the boat ride back to the minibus, we saw about 10 Red Howler monkeys and some Toucans in the trees lining the edge of the riverbank! Unfortunately, my camera died earlier during the day, but I think Kendra managed to get some good pictures of them, so I will have to steal some from her when we get home! That was the perfect ending to the day!! We had been hoping to see some monkeys since we arrived in Guyana, and now I can finally say I have!!


Categories: Guyana, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Making the most of little moments

Mar. 9, 2012:

This Tuesday marked one month until my flight back home, which means we are now over 2/3 through our time here! How it flew by! I still can’t believe it. Just as St. Cuthbert’s is finally starting to feel like home, I will be packing up to leave before I know it!

Workshop time at the secondary school!

Our group has been busy the last week or so preparing some workshops to host during our final month here. The secondary school students start their end-of-term exams next week, so we decided to run a workshop on study skills and test-taking in order to help them prepare. On Tuesday we held two workshops; one in the morning for the Grade 7s, and one in the afternoon for the Grade 9s. It was a lot of fun! We split the classes up into groups and had them work together to brainstorm some studying tips and to think about how to study effectively for their upcoming exams. Then we had a very interesting (and eye-opening!) discussion with them about why it’s important to study and to work hard in school. I got the impression that some of these students haven’t really thought that far ahead and maybe haven’t yet realized that there’s often a connection between doing well in school and having more options available to them upon graduating high school. Rather than being the rule, I think studying here (at least in our village) is still the exception, so it may have been a fairly foreign concept to some of them. However, I think both workshops went well overall, and that at least a few of the students may have taken something helpful away from it, so I was happy with that! We are also planning to hold dental hygiene workshops next week for some of the primary school classes, so I am looking forward to that!

Dental Hygiene fun with the Grade 3s

Our time with the Grade 3s is also quickly winding down! We’ve discovered that we probably only have about three more teaching days with them, because their exams start the second last week of March. Though they can definitely be a handful, I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for them, so I think I’ll probably be sad to go! They still draw us pictures and write us adorable notes almost everyday, so that keeps me smiling and significantly lessens the frustration I sometimes feel.

I will do my best to make the most of my last three weeks here and enjoy every minute of this adventure!

More to come soon!

Categories: Guyana, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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