Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coming to America

Although I did not write this here, I am currently sitting in an air conditioned sports bar using their wireless internet drinking a cold beer. Cheers.

Originally I thought it would be interesting to spend two years out of the States without returning. Things have changed, namely my older brother Tim is getting married, so I am returning to the States early December. Yet, this is not the only change, I now think that it will be interesting to return to the States for some time and then eventually returning back here to Bartica. A older wise British friend who has been here for six years remarked in my less than eloquent paraphrase that, “it is hard to see how much you have really changed until you return home”. Unfortunately for me this means returning in the dead of a New York winter, which will be shocking enough after finally getting used to the hellish heat here. Nevertheless, I have been making a mental checklist of things I want to do, see, eat, etc.

Things here in Bartica have changed a little, the romance period is over and now I have my occasional feuds with her inconveniences and what not. One thing I am still in love with is my house, although even she tends to nag me sometimes. Namely, a temperamental toilet, an incredible amount of ants (I don’t even have to sweep, I rely on ants), and as recent as yesterday something went wrong with my TV.

As far as work is concerned I have given up on trying to figure out a “new” path and have accepted my job for what it is. So, I have started setting up the hydroponics greenhouse and doing after school programs for the dorm students. Unlike the rest of Bartica, which is relatively privileged, these students are shipped in from the hinterlands in order to go to high school. Their living situation is dismal, besides school these children are locked inside their compound with nothing to do. As far as I have observed even on weekends these children never do anything, they just run around the compound bored. I have stopped asking how their weekends were because the uniform response is always bad. So, it is nice to see them having fun playing football, cricket, volleyball or anything else that I can manage without a budget.

There has been a recent exodus of expats. Not necessarily going back to where they came but just simply leaving Bartica. And I’ve come to realize how important they have been in the months I’ve been here. I, however, haven’t left Bartica since July, and when you live in a town of 15,000 you really start to have small town syndrome. The same people, places, food, etc. On the other hand it has enabled me to form stronger bonds with the people here, and help with learning Guyanese. Even just a week by myself in Bartica without talking with white people, I see myself becoming more Guyanese. Hell, I’m struggling now to use proper English. My grammar is horrendous now, so I must apologize for a lack of it.

Poker has recently become popular in my circle of friends and it is a good supplemental income. Although, if (or when) I win I am expected to buy drinks for everybody. At least it is fun.

This will probably be my last post before I come back (dec. 4-21), and I am sure I will have a lot more to say when I return back here to Bartica. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some Maths

Warning: This was written in haste in an internet café.

I noticed that the month of September has passed without my writing something, so rest assured this will certainly not happen for the month of October. This is probably due to the fact that the novelty of new things always comes to an end. And although I will not say that the end has been reached. I will say that things which used to be novel are now commonplace expected. I think I could even say that I would find things more novel back in the States now than I would find them in Bartica. Regardless of all this blabber, I still am enjoying myself and always looking for the new and the novel.

Some things have changed with my day to day living, probably the most important is my new apartment. I think the increase in price (2.4 times more) serves as an appropriate representation of how much better my new apartment is. Thus, my new apartment is 2.4 times better than my old apartment. I have mentioned this apartment before in previous blogs, but now it has become a reality. So to reiterate, this apartment has floors, counters and a bathroom made completely out of ceramic tiles. It has water that runs twenty four hours a day, an improvement that I believe I can say that this is 2.4 times more than my previous house (about 10 hours a day). But some things can not be quantified, their value is beyond or transcends the world of numbers. For example, I now have a beautiful patio (albeit it is on the first floor), an indoor toilet, and TV. Everybody in Guyana seems to have the same TV, moreover, everybody in Guyana seems to have the same problem, it barely works. Yet, mine does work and I also am the proud recipient of cable TV. Our cable consists of about 35 channels, which is infinitely more than my previous apartment (a unique property of zero). I get BBC, CNN, and even Al Jezeera, I can watch news with my morning coffee, which makes it 2.4 times better (and the fact that I also inherited a coffee maker). I also get about five movie channels, and a local feed of CBS and NBC from Atlanta (I’m not sure why this is, but I will ask my friend the cable guy who grew up in New York). Continuing on, I’d say that my bed is 2.4 times better than my last, and that the temperature in the apartment is 2.4 times cooler. What is more, when my curry decides to leave my body at three in the morning I do not have to go outside, I do not have to carry a flashlight, and best of all I can flush. And believe me when I say that all of these things amount to 2.4 more hours of sleep. In general this house makes me 2.4 times happier.

Now it can be said that “things” making me happier is a bit superficial, or even worse some may consider it very American. But, after living with unnecessary and extremely irritating inconveniences for a half a year, one learns that there is nothing wrong with things. There is nothing wrong with loving things. I love my coffee maker. I love my TV. I love my toilet. My bed. Every single one of my easy to clean and cool ceramic tiles. Obviously, one can put forth the slippery slope argument, that the love of things is a never ending spiral. That my love for my 21” TV will soon become my longing for a 25” TV. And this is true. However, I will say that coming from near the bottom of the “things” spectrum (I by no means want to belittle my fellow volunteers in the bush, who are happy to just be alive), will give my a lifelong perspective on things. At least I’d like to think so. Granted, I just bought a new pair of sunglasses that are, quite ironically too, about 2.4 times the price of a normal pair. I just couldn’t resist.

More soon. I’ve been eating extremely well, dare I say 2.4 times better. So well, that I’ve started exercising again, but not 2.4 times more.

Thanks for reading.