One of the best parts of being a volunteer in Guyana, is the opportunity to experience so many different holidays from such a diverse country. Diwali is one of those holidays that is celebrated by the East Indian population, and was celebrated on November 11th this year.
Diwali, which means row of lights, is celebrated on the darkest night of the year. During this night, many homes will begin to light diya’s (small clay pots with a wick and coconut oil) and place them in every nook and cranny to light up their homes. The diya’s are lit as a form of worship for Goddess Lakshmi to seek blessing for material and spiritual fulfillment.
Other traditions during this holiday include, distribution of sweets which signifies the importance of serving and sharing, exchange of greetings which denotes goodwill, deep cleaning of houses/Mandirs that illuminates the road for the Goddess so that she has no problem with light if she visits their homes, and wearing new clothes which signifies healthy souls in healthy bodies.
This year, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience this holiday in a small village down the Essequibo River in Region 3, St. Lawrence. I made my way to St. Lawrence in the early afternoon, and right as it got dark, we started lighting diya’s and placing them around the house. After we placed the diya’s around the home, we had a few sweets, walked the street, and lit fireworks with the children and others who kindly welcomed us into their homes for the holidays.
For the volunteers who are currently or will be serving in Guyana, I highly recommend spending Diwali in both a smaller village and in Georgetown where you get to see the Motorcade and larger Diwali Celebration, both are amazing experiences.
Here are just a few photos from Diwali this year.
Guyana Trail Marathon (10K)
On November 14, 2015, the very first Trail Marathon was held here in Guyana. The race itself was held in a small village, Santa Mission, that has a population of roughly 200 people. The race had 3 separate events: the 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon and hosted a maximum of 100 runners from 8 different countries (USA, Canada, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Russia, Germany, and England).
Overall, the race was an amazing experience, very well organized and it was amazing to see the whole village come together and host such an amazing event for all of the national/international visitors. Below, I’ve written a brief recap of my experience for the 10K.
The morning of the race started really early as I had to wake up around 3:45 AM to take a cab to the Mariott in Georgetown to catch one of the early morning busses to the docks in Timehri, where I would take a boat to Santa Mission. The boat to Santa Mission took roughly 30 minutes, and was one of the coolest (weather-wise), beautiful boat rides I have been on, as I had the opportunity to see the sun come up over the savanna.
Once in Santa Mission, all of the volunteers met at Kelly’s old house to get ready for the race. Since I had arrived so early, I had the opportunity to see the start of both the half- and full marathons, which made me wish I could’ve ran one of them, but lack of training and having bronchitis for nearly 2 months, prevented me from being able to do ANY sort of exercise or training. That said, all of the races went through trails within the jungle that surround village. All of the trails were clear of debris, had a little bit of mud/swampy areas because of the rain, had markers at each km, bottles of water at each km, a couple ATV’s that drove down the trail making sure all participants were good, and aid stations randomly spread out through the race that included water, electrolyte drinks, gel packets, etc.
Overall, the 10K was a pretty good course… I will say that the course was one of the most challenging I have ever run. This may be due to the lack of training, but I think a lot of it has to do with the humidity, heat, and different surfaces that you run on during the race, from sand to soft trails to solid dirt trails. All of these things though, made for an amazing day spent at one of the most beautiful places in Guyana with some of the most welcoming individuals in Guyana.
Here are just a couple more photos from the race, along with the final finishing times for the winners of the three events:
– Marathon: 4 hr 46 min
– Half-Marathon: 2 hr 17 min
– 10K: 55 min 52 sec
In other brief news, the other day I was walking home from work and heard some meowing/crying coming from a garbage can. I looked inside, and found these 4 cute little kittens inside the garbage, grabbed them, took them home, got them some food, and am happy to say that I found them all new homes within a couple of days!!
Hope you all have a wonderful day!