April 2015: Peace Corps, So Far…

“Sometimes it’s not about the destination, but about the journey itself.” – Author Unknown

Brazil and the Amazon Jungle

You may think that a trip to the Amazon Jungle is an adventure itself, it is, but you need to get there first, and that’s how this adventure began. We started our journey in Georgetown, Guyana where we boarded an overnight bus to Lethem that lasted roughly 21+ hours, went through 500+ miles of unpaved roads, and included 3 flat tires. We then transferred into another mini-bus where we crossed the border to Brazil, followed by a taxi to Boa Vista where we boarded another night bus heading to Manaus, the major hub for all Amazon Jungle trips. This was a very nice bus ride, minus the midnight interrogation by the Brazilian Armed Forces armed with machine guns while we were half asleep. Once in Manaus, we took a taxi to Hostel Manaus, where we stayed for 1 night. The following morning, our tour company Iguana Turismo picked us up to take us to another boat where we crossed the Rio Negro and Amazon Rivers. Once we arrived at shore, we took 1 more bus for about 1.5 hours to reach a little creek where we boarded our last boat ride that lasted about 1 hour where we ended at Juma Jungle Lodge, the place we stayed for our Amazon Trip. The trip didn’t take too long, only about 2.5 days of traveling. The jungle tour itself started and stayed on a high note for the 4 days we were there. During this time we got the opportunity to hold a Sloth, Caiman, catch and eat Piranha, sleep in a hammock in the Jungle, trek through the Amazon, swim in the river, see Pink Dolphins, and see the beautiful sunrise over the river. After the tour, we spent a few more days exploring the wonderful city of Manaus, where we went to a small secluded beach off an island in the river, saw a show at the Manaus Opera House, and enjoyed many amazing Brazilian dishes.

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Camp BRO Guyana

Every year the Peace Corps Guyana Gender and Development Task Force plans a large Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) that focuses on empowering teenage girls here in Guyana. With the success we have had on Camp GLOW, we decided to start from scratch and design a Camp BRO (Boys Redefining Others) that focuses on Gender Stereotypes, Self-Identity, and other important topics for boys aged 10-11. This year we had our first Camp BRO in Region 2, and it was a major success as we learned what went well and what things we can spend more time on trying to improve for future Camp BROS. Please stay tuned for more updates on Camp BRO in the near future. 11149257_10152999628267639_286892497314709852_n Region 3: Santa Mission

This month I also got the opportunity to visit one of the volunteers who lives in a more rural site here in Guyana, she has a blog that you can also follow HERE. She lives in Santa Mission and it is a small village in Region 3 that you can only reach by boat. From Georgetown you take Bus 42 to the Timehri docks, and board a boat that crosses the Demerara and takes you down Kamuni creek for about 45 mins to 1 hour, and you reach the sandy hill where Santa Mission lies. This is a very small community of about 200 residents that has a nice spot to swim, lots of trails to hike/run through, and a community craft shop that sells traditional hand woven Amerindian baskets, coasters, and the likes. This village will also be the site of the Guyana Trail Marathon that will be held this upcoming November. Kelly posted a blog about the planning of this marathon here: Creating A Marathon. A group of us volunteers have decided to support this marathon and some will be running the 10k, the Half Marathon, and some the full Marathon.

Other Update’s

As many of you have noticed, I haven’t posted many things over the course of the last year… That said, I just passed my 1 year anniversary since I have arrived here in Guyana and the plan is to post more regularly on what’s going on throughout my service. But I’ll do my best to catch y’all up just briefly right here. Since January, I have been working at my Health Center 2 days a week assisting the Health Workers with Infant/Child Clinic. During these days, we have on average 30 patients, and sometimes up to 70-80 patients. During this clinic, we weigh the children, and give the parents a brief interview ensuring the child hasn’t been sick and is following the normal growth and development pattern. We then give them another date for their return visit which will be between 1 and 6 months depending on the age of the child. The last 3 days of the week I spend my time in Stewartville (a village near Leonora) teaching HIV/AIDS to both Grade 5 and Grade 6 students at the Primary School, and teaching Health Family Life Education (HFLE) to Grade 7 and Grade 8 students at the Secondary School. We cover topics such as sexual health, goal setting, decision making, health communication, etc. in these classes. During the weekends I spend my free time doing typical household chores such as washing my clothes, cleaning my house, and going to Market in town to get my vegetables for the week. If I am not doing chores, I am usually hanging out in my hammock watching TV Shows on my laptop, reading, or doing work for the Gender and Development Task Force that I am apart of here in Guyana, because as you know, a volunteers job never ends. But as many people would agree, every day in the Peace Corps seems to take forever, but somehow time still flies by. The next group of volunteers have already arrived here in Guyana and have been here for nearly 2 weeks. It seems like just yesterday that I arrived here with my group, Guy26. Last, but not least, two more friends have sadly departed Guyana to pursue others goals. You both will be missed greatly here in Guyana, but the memories we’ve created over the last year will last a life time… I look forward to seeing both of you in the near future!

That’s it for now… Stay tuned for the next update!!!!!

– J