-these are my views, not those of Project Trust-

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Holidays

So I guess it's time I finally sat down and blogged about the holidays... which were fantastic.

We left Shulinab the Sunday after school finished (15th December), still not knowing where we would be for Christmas.  Our option for travel were either by plane or bus, so we went by bus to save money. As a result, we spent 14 and a half hours in a minibus, travelling on dirt roads that were at least 60% pothole, and reached Georgetown at 0300 in the morning on the Monday. As much as anything else, it was wonderful to meet up with all the other volunteers around the country and share stories about our projects.

My new favourite form of transport....
On the Monday and Tuesday we all attended an LRTT (Limited Resource Teacher Training) workshop being run by Tom Greenwood, an ex-Project Trust Volunteer from Guyana. Having been teaching for 15 weeks it was absolutely fantastic, as it gave us an opportunity to think about a range of teaching and classroom control methods that we wouldn't have considered whilst at our projects.

The view from my bedroom over Christmas
Over Christmas, we ended up staying in a place on the Essequibo River, called Bidrabu House. About 1 mile from Bartica, a major town and one of the projects, it was brilliant. We spent the time relaxing mostly, as most people would after 15 solid weeks of work. The house had it's own swimming pool and enough space that even with 18 of us it was possible to find a quiet space to read. On Christmas day itself, some of the volunteers cooked up a meal that was simply astonishing. Roast ham, roast vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce and then trifle was much more than I was expecting. However, not everything went that smoothly. When we were setting up the barbecue (half an oil drum) on Christmas Eve the bottom of it fell through as we were putting firewood in. That wasn't going to stop us from having our barbecue though, so we went hunting. And found an old wheelbarrow, that the grill fitted over perfectly. Wheelbarrowed chicken never tasted so good (it was probably cooked properly - no-one died at any rate). When we finally had to leave there was general resentment towards returning to Georgetown, so we simply stayed an extra night (we did actually get in contact with the travel agent, we didn't just not leave).

An unconventional way of cooking

Christmas dinner with the volunteers
For New Year's Eve, 10 of us ended up in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. We were only there for three nights, but with 8 of us in hammocks slung uncomfortably close together we managed. My time in Paramaribo was, as with our time in the house, a lot of fun. Parbo is a million times better than Banks. No question about it. We also had the pleasure of slightly re-westernising ourselves by going to McDonald's for breakfast on New Year's Eve. In reality, I felt more out of place in Suriname than in Guyana, despite the numerous Dutch people there, as my Dutch is limited (to nothing). Fireworks are a big thing for New Year's Eve in Paramaribo, and their health and safety laws appear to be slightly more relaxed than what I'm used to, so watching people set off crates of fireworks on pavements was a novelty. The important point here is that the streets weren't blocked off, and were fairly busy.

Overall, the holidays were brilliant and a welcome break from teaching. I've now been back for one week of teaching in Shulinab, and getting back after the hustle and bustle of Georgetown (compared to Shulinab anyway, not the UK - it's population is only around 350,000) was wonderful.