Thursday, January 7, 2010

Finally made it home

Finally made it home, at least as home as I have made it, but it does feel nice to be back in Bartica amongst what is now familiar. All in all I must say that going to the States for a couple weeks gave me the break I needed to have fresh eyes coming back. In other words I think my perspective on Bartica is now wealthier because of being in the states for awhile. Most of the trip went well, I saw most (sorry if you are not a part of that) of my friends, my brother got married, and I bought a bunch of goodies to bring back here. My only complaint is the fact that I arrived the same time as a cold front, and two snowstorms.

The most apparent part of my changed perspective is how much I have adapted to life down here, for better or for worse. For example, punctuality has no place down here, showing up late is just a non issue. And while this is no deep revelation, I just feel a lot more comfortable in a place where it’s completely fine showing up a couple hours late. In my vacation to the States I got stressed, ie. traffic, assholes, consumerism, rules, etc. I think it coincides with the whole lifestyle down here, the immediacy of the moment, the inattention towards the future. One of the parts of development work is behavior change, but to me this stinks of imperialism. It can be safely said that it is quite difficult to develop a country when it is perfectly acceptable to never be on time, but I do also believe that something will be lost if this is lost. Like most things there are both benefits and consequences, and I’m not entirely sure if the benefits outweigh the consequences in this case. Here is a culture that has virtually eliminated stress, and this is not solely because of the lack of tardiness, I just thought it a good example to highlight the differences between America and Guyana.

After weeks of meeting, greeting and general holiday merriment I got to take a couple days rest. I dearly needed some Tyler time, and now that I have had it, I have entered back into the world of living. When I arrived here in Guyana I was quickly thrown into things, which included two long delays, a lost bag and a massive amount of phone calls. Although it did land me a free morning in the Caribbean Air VIP lounge, complete with free food and an open bar. Soon after I was on the phone planning for the holiday house that I had been planning (it’s in Bartica) for the other Peace Corps Volunteers. My three days at the vacation house were a nice alternative to the usual grind and coldness of Christmas. Nothing much more to say on that.

Now that 2010 has started I have gone back to work and have begun setting up my workplace for the kids again. I did acquire (thank you mother) two old laptops, so now my computer total is four. Moreover, I picked up a bunch of software to load on these four computers, so hopefully my afternoons with the kids will be a little more formal and progress with their computer skills will be made. Soon, my grant will be approved and online. Basically, this is a grant through the Peace Corps Website in order to buy more computers for the building I am working. More on this soon. Also, in typical American fashion I have started exercising in this year of 2010. Not necessarily a New Year’s resolution, but just a convenient starting point after a transition in life. I have been good the first week so far, and I also have realized that I am in the worse shape of my life. I do have enough time on my hands, so it would be a shame for me not to take advantage of the opportunity. Thus, I am.
So, cheers, happy new year, and I will be advertising for my grant just now.


Olivia said...

Hi Tyler-

I found it interesting what you wrote about punctuality/tardiness in Bartica and NJ. I experienced the same thing in Ecuador, of course, and it's interesting to think about how the Caribbean and South American lifestyles differ from ours here in the US. I really think climate has a whole lot to do with culture. People always go somewhere warm for vacation, to relax, to unwind, to get away from it all. And while it's great to vacation in the sun, the people who live in it all the time have certainly adapted differently than the people who freeze through winters in NJ. I would say warm weather encourages laziness. Cold weather creates stress. Ice and snow and blizzards pose real problems to the 'civilized' world (read roads and highways). Not saying that one place is necessarily better than the other, though I do relish the though of living there where its warm and care-free, less rules and traffic, as you explained, but it does make you wonder. Take NYC for example, it would be difficult to force all of those office people to sit behind their desks all day if it were beautiful out every day. Less work always gets done in the summertime, people take off early on Fridays and stuff, you know. Everyday in Bartica or Guayaquil has different possibilities than do days here. And I think you are lucky that you got the opportunity to come home in the middle of your stay in Guyana for the exact reason you mention, how your eyes are open to so much more now. It's like a culture shock coming back home. And you get the good fortune to get to be back there with the contrasts fresh in your mind. Hope you are enjoying yourself! Appreciate what you have. You missed out on a long, cold winter in NJ which is still barely becoming spring.

Anyway, you do sound happy there and its interesting to keep up with what you are doing. Everybody here misses you, of course! Keep us updated! Are your kids going to learn to e-mail or to use social networking sites?

Tyler said...

Thanks for the input here Liv. I know you miss the carefree lifestyle of the third world. haha, funny story. One of my british friends met some american missionaries who said that Guyana was "chaotic" and he replied it's actually just freedom, more freedom than the states. suffice to say he was less than thrilled.

But yea i think that climate does have a lot to do with the lifestyles people choose. Yet, Guyana has a few different cultures and there are differences between those cultures, namely work ethics. But I can't really say anything here that would not sound horrible.

Yea, I do have a better internet connection now, so I'm going to try and get into skyping, my roommate is doing it right now. Anyways cheers.