Somehow, it’s already been almost 5 months since I arrived back in the country! I can’t believe how fast the time goes. To think that I wasn’t sure if I’d find three months in Guyana too long now seems quite funny to me! Perhaps not surprisingly, just before I left, I was wishing I had more time there – I didn’t want to come home yet! Of course I missed my family and friends back home, but by the time the three-month mark rolled around, St. Cuthbert’s Mission was just beginning to feel like a second home. I was finally getting used to village life, and could see myself staying for awhile. I still don’t know that I could do a two-year placement in the village, like some of the American Peace Corps volunteers I met there were doing, but I definitely would have liked to spend another couple of months there!
As I relax in the beautiful hammock I brought back with me from Guyana, I think of my Guyanese life, and all the little things I’ve come to miss since returning to Canada. Although the sheer amount of children at my doorstep wanting to play and shouting “Miss! Miss!” at me for any number of reasons often overwhelmed me, it’s one of things about Guyana that I will never forget. And surprisingly, it’s also one of the things I sometimes find myself missing most. I’ve never considered myself very good with kids. Maybe it’s partly because I’ve never had much exposure to them or experience looking after them. Being the youngest in my family, I was never given the baby-sitting responsibility, and there weren’t many kids in my neighbourhood who were younger than me when I was growing up. That’s definitely one thing that changed for me, living in a village filled with kids of all ages! Though I still don’t feel completely confident with children by any means, I’m happy to say that I now at least feel comfortable around them, and even enjoy the dynamic that their presence often brings! I also miss the friendly “Good Mornings,” “Good Afternoons,” and “Good Nights” I’d always receive with a smile when I passed someone walking in the village. Most of all, though, I miss the wonderful friends I made there and all the laughs we shared throughout my stay.
There are also some things I don’t particularly miss, such as the blasting music at all hours of the day and night (sometimes starting as early as 5 a.m.!) and the mangy dog that followed us everywhere, refusing to be anywhere but in the lead! His insistence on being first in line anywhere we walked often led to him tripping us, as he stopped abruptly to follow a scent trail, and got on our nerves more than once! Our dog went by many names, but I called him “Ed,” as his sickly state reminded me of my favourite hyena on The Lion King. Though Ed drove me crazy most of the time, I must have developed a soft spot for him somehow, because looking back, he and the blaring beats are both fond memories of my experience.
I’ve started to realize that I unknowingly picked up on some little behavioural things during my time in Guyana as well. One of my favourites is that I sometimes suck my teeth to express dissatisfaction, like when I forget something I need to do, or when I disapprove of somebody’s behaviour (though I do this in private, not in front of the person!) Teeth-sucking (or “sipping,” as it’s more often called in Guyana) is commonly used by men to get the attention of a woman, but since I never quite adopted the need for that application of it, I found other uses for it! And many uses, there are! For a fairly detailed explanation of all-things-sipping and its many meanings, check out this very entertaining blog post! I find myself laughing every time I catch myself doing it. Though North Americans probably wouldn’t consider it the most polite gesture, it is still dear to my heart, and will probably always remain one of my favourite memories of Guyanese life.
As time goes on, I find more and more ways that my adventure in Guyana has affected me. I can’t wait to see what will pop into my head next!