The Guyana Time Warp

30 11 2010

WOW! Tomorrow is December 1st. Happy Chanukah and World AIDS Day. I hope everyone had a superb Thanksgiving. Mine was wonderful, full of smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, pumpkin pie, cupcakes, and of course Guyanese rum! It was a nice treat to be able to enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with fellow volunteers and a few Guyanese. The rest of the weekend was incredibly relaxing and we even spent Saturday at the beach. I’m really going to miss the year round sunshine, which brings me to the whole point of this blog……The Guyana Time Warp.

After receiving my official Peace Corps invitation to Guyana I tried to get as much information about Guyana and what Peace Corps in Guyana would be like. On the Peace Corps website there is one personal account from a volunteer that served in Guyana. The vignette is all about how time is measured differently due to the lack of seasons and the fact that the days stay pretty much the same. She even mentioned that her watch broke her first month in country and she never bothered getting it fixed or buying a new one. I completely forgot about that story until a few weeks ago. I recently celebrated my 21 month anniversary in Guyana, which leaves only 5 months to go. I know that to some of you 5 months seems like a long time, but in Guyana months ZOOM by. Even though it’s the last day of November I still feel like it’s July, I just got back from my visit in the states, and I still have a lot of time to get all my projects wrapped up. In all honesty the weather outside is in the 80s/90s so it feels like July, and that’s the point. Sometimes it feels like the days creep by since they are all pretty much the same, the weather is consistently HOT, except during rainy season, or when tropical storms make brief appearances. There is no daylight savings and we always get 12 hours of sunshine no matter what time of year it is. I am not complaining about this in the least. I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather or snow, so the heat and sunshine make me very happy! What I am saying is that for almost thirty years I told time using seasons. When I was growing up in the south there were four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest there were still seasons, but daylight savings, the solstices, and how much exposure to daylight were how I was able to gauge the time of year. In Guyana I haven’t been able to tell time the same way, so I pay attention to it less and then am completely surprised when months pass by and I want to know where the time has gone. It’s a strange feeling to know that so much has happened this year, but at the same time I feel it has gone by so quickly. I have found that I measure my time in different ways: the school term, holidays, visits to see friends and family, visits from friends and family, Peace Corps conferences, etc. Trust me when I say that Christmas in Guyana is NOTHING like Christmas in the states, instead of snowmen winter wonderlands, we have colorful fake flowers, more blackouts than usual, and Caribbean Christmas music (which is AWESOME by the way). They recently had a tree lighting ceremony in Georgetown that was shown on local television (think Guyanese version of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on a much smaller scale), they had floats with a dancing/wining Santa Claus, Dora the Explorer, Bert & Ernie, and Minnie Mouse. All I could think was, “I bet Santa is sweating his ass off right now.”

I still can’t believe it is almost 2011 and I can’t believe I have only 5 months. I hope everyone has a fantastic last month of 2010 and Happy Whatever Winter Holiday/Festival Celebration to you all.

One last note before I sign off, my watch broke after three weeks in country and I have never bothered getting it fixed or getting a replacement. It was never necessary.

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