So, my Guyana experience is over, at least for now. At some point I might write some blogs trying to put the whole experience into context, and filling you in on some of the crazy and wonderful parts of my experience in more detail - losing a toe to a fish, crossing the jungle and savannah by motorbike, DJing at parties and out in public, getting powdered, soaked and dyed at Phagwah, learning to cook roti and bake and learning to wine and to waltz Guyanese oldies style.
Wow, that´s a lot!
Finishing a placement is as much of an emotional rollercoaster as starting it. I was very lucky to get to the point where the work that VSO had started in the region could be handed over to some amazing Guyanese teachers - Simone and Mycinth. I feel honoured to have worked with two people with such a passion for improving education in Guyana and such positive and selfless individuals, and very hopeful that they can continue to work with teachers to move things forward. VSO has largely pulled out of education in Guyana now, and so it is wonderful to be able to pass on the baton to such capable hands.
Right now I am starting a new journey - a few months travel in South America. Starting in Venezuela, continuing to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. I hope to get some perspective on my experience in Guyana, and how it has changed my understanding of what I want from life and what I can give. Also I hope to meet people with different lifestyles and cultures, learn Spanish to a reasonable level, and have fun in amazing places. This part of the world has a shaky reputation for safety, but is also packed full of mountains, waterfalls, beaches, music, dancing, animals, and different cultures.
My journey began with some time in the Rupanuni. Thanks to Tjeerd, Sergio, Melvin, Sonja and Eddie and Behi for the great company and hospitality along the way. The Rupanuni is a savannah area in the south of Guyana, with amazing open skies and incredible sunsets, bordered by jungle covered mountains. Relaxing into the steady pace of life there with a few walks and bike rides was a great way to get into the travelling spirit.
My first faltering steps into Latin America have been in Santa Elena de Uarien, a lovely frontier town (not a phrase you hear often) a few kilometers into Venezuela from Brazil. I have spent a few days hanging out, testing out a few phrases of Spanish and meeting some interesting people. There are a few nomad type travellers around, including a Spanish guy who has been cycling with a tent all the way from Mexico, and a camper van full of Argentinian graphic designers who have been on the road for three years, passing through Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. They keep going by selling some crafts and working over the internet from time to time and seem like some of the happiest people I have met.
I also started on my plan to get more active with a very long and very hilly bike ride through the Gran Sabana to a small hippy ish community called El Pauji, where I stayed for a couple of nights and swam in some beautiful waterfall plunge pools before facing the long and very hilly bike ride back.
Signing off for now, new blogging policy is quick and straight from my head. One lesson I am trying to learn from my experience so far is: less perfectionism, more action!
Also, work less, live more!