June 21, 2005: Headlines: COS - Guyana: Blogs - Guyana: Personal Web Site: The Chronicle of Brian Reeves' Peace Corps Service in Guyana

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guyana: Peace Corps Guyana : The Peace Corps in Guyana: June 21, 2005: Headlines: COS - Guyana: Blogs - Guyana: Personal Web Site: The Chronicle of Brian Reeves' Peace Corps Service in Guyana

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The Chronicle of Brian Reeves' Peace Corps Service in Guyana

The Chronicle of Brian Reeves' Peace Corps Service in Guyana

The Chronicle of Brian Reeves' Peace Corps Service in Guyana

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
In Which I Become a Tour Guide, Part One

Let me take you inside a Guyanese home.

Cross the threshold of my homestay parents' gate and enter the yard, and depending on the time of day one might immediately see birds (day) or huge toads (night). The toads, I should point out here, are easily the size of my clenched fist, sometimes closer to two. Locally they are called crapaud (pronounced "cruh-po", an interesting similarity to St. Lucia).

The house proper is set about three feet off the ground level. Every house locally is built so, with space underneath either encased in solid concrete or left open, the house perched on pillars of cement blocks. Other houses take this one step further and raise the entire house one level up, so that the building is effectively two-story, only with a great open space in the area beneath the house in which often are strung clothes lines amid piles of buckets or boxes or barrels. Some of the more wealthy families might park a car under the house in this way. Yet others fill in this area, often renting it out to supplement their income, a house on top of an apartment.

But my house is one-story with a solid foundation. The front porch is semi-circular and covered, swept daily to keep off the dust, and decorated with a scrap of linoleum. Leave your shoes beside the door, obeying Guyanese custom, and step over the transom past the lockable security gate and solid wood front door, and you find yourself in a modestly-sized living room. The first thing you might notice is that the walls of the house do not connect with the ceiling -- a local design to improve air flow in the house, the inner walls, which are constructed of wood slats and painted various colors (green, in this case, and orange in other parts of the house), extend only ten or so feet up. This leaves a gap between the top of the walls and the house's ceiling, where wooden beams and naked corrugated tin roofing are exposed. The walls are very simple (forget sheet rock) and so wires leading to various light switches and electrical outlets are left affixed in plain sight and painted to match the rest of the walls, a modest attempt at camouflage.

The furniture in the living room consists of a matching set with a love seat, couch, and single chair, all facing one another with a distance between of only a single pace. Tucked in the far right corner as you come in is an entertainment center, a largish black number with sliding glass panels which, due to a lack of good storage space in the kitchen, serve double-duty as a china cabinet. A 16-inch television is perched on the center shelf; cable is not available out here, so the antenna on the roof sends down the often snowy signals from about six different local stations, one of which mostly specializes in broadcasting American television feeds from NBC; at night it is possible to catch Fear Factor or Friends reruns. Other stations play almost exclusively Guyanese-produced shows, often very sedate affairs with an Indo-Guyanese or Afro-Guyanese man or woman speaking woodenly about one subject or another. These shows seem hopelessly arcane to me, the subject matter so tightly woven in local politics and interest that I cannot hope to culturally comprehend it, not to mention the sometimes impenetrable accent which is enhanced by poor television reception. (Side note: One local favorite is a program that runs in the evenings called the "Obituary Channel," where slow-scrolling dedications to the dearly departed are set to music. The tunes selected are always surprising, ranging from the grating wails of a Bollywood banshee, to a Patsy-Cline-like version of "The Sweet By-and-By," to the local reggae favorite that seems to play from every available radio all day. The grainy photos of the departed, who might have died yesterday or in 1982, stare blankly as the epitaph, paid for by the departed's friends and family of course, rolls sedately past.)

On the left-hand side of this room is a homemade curtain made from floral-print cloth which serves to demurely hide the door that leads into my room. Adhering to Peace Corps policy, the door may be locked from within or without, although I rarely choose to do so, with a simple tumbler latch and key. My bedroom is painted a sort of creamy green color, the wooden slat floorboards covered here and there with a throw rug or carpet remnant. A wardrobe and bureau have been provided for storage of my things. The bed is a broad twin slid into one corner. Dangling from the wooden beam high above is a wire holding up a mosquito net, which I must tuck around the bed at night forming a sort of canopy to protect me from the squadrons of South American insects that patrol the night. A solitary fan is arranged to point doggedly toward the center of the bed; it provides a cool enough wind that in the dead of night sometimes I find I need a sheet. Problem is, with only one outlet in the room I cannot both use my computer and the fan, so most of the time I must use my computer for short stretches at a time on waning battery power. As I write this, the fan is unplugged so that I may rejuice my laptop.

When this story was posted in June 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

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American Taboo: A Peace Corps Tragedy Date: June 20 2005 No: 661 American Taboo: A Peace Corps Tragedy
Returned Volunteers met with author Philip Weiss in Baltimore on June 18 to discuss the murder of Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner. Weiss was a member of a panel that included three psychiatrists and a criminal attorney. Meanwhile, the Seattle U.S. Attorney's office announced that Dennis Priven cannot be retried for the murder. "We do not believe this case can be prosecuted by anyone, not only us, but in any other jurisdiction in the United States." Read background on the case here.

June 16, 2005: Special Events Date: June 16 2005 No: 654 June 16, 2005: Special Events
Philip Weiss, PCV murder writer, speaks in Baltimore June 18
"Rainforests and Refugees" showing in Portland, Maine until June 25
"Iowa in Ghana" on exhibit in Waterloo through June 30
NPCA to hold Virtual Leaders Forum on July 29
RPCV's "Taking the Early Bus" at Cal State until Aug 15
"Artists and Patrons in Traditional African Cultures" in NY thru Sept 30
RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

June 14: Peace Corps suspends Haiti program Date: June 14 2005 No: 651 June 14: Peace Corps suspends Haiti program
After Uzbekistan, the Peace Corps has announced the suspension of a second program this month - this time in Haiti. Background: The suspension comes after a US Embassy warning, a request from Tom Lantos' office, and the program suspension last year. For the record: PCOL supports Peace Corps' decision to suspend the two programs and commends the agency for the efficient way PCVs were evacuated safely. Our only concern now is with the placement of evacuated PCVs and the support they receive after interrupted service.

June 6: PC suspends Uzbekistan program Date: June 7 2005 No: 640 June 6: PC suspends Uzbekistan program
Peace Corps has announced that it is suspending the Uzbekistan program after the visas of 52 Peace Corps volunteers who arrived in January were not renewed. The suspension comes after a State Department warning that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in Uzbekistan and after the killings in Andizhan earlier in May. Background: PCOL published a report on April 23 that Peace Corps volunteers who arrived in January were having visa difficulties and reported on safety and visa issues in Uzbekistan as they developed.

June 6, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: June 12 2005 No: 643 June 6, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Kinky Friedman will "sign anything except bad legislation" 6 Jun
Niels Marquardt Makes Chimpanzee Protection a Priority 6 Jun
Laurence Leamer needs approval for "Today" appearance 6 Jun
Desperate Housewives' Ricardo Chavira is son of RPCVs 6 Jun
Anthony Sandberg runs Berkeley sailing school 5 Jun
Amy Smith field-tests sugarcane charcoal 5 Jun
Mary Johnson organizes workshop on genocide 3 Jun
Jonathan Lash in 100 most Influential Business Leaders 3 Jun
Hastert jump-starts Chris Shays' Campaign 3 Jun
John Coyne says 41 RPCVs applied for scholarships 3 Jun
James Rupert writes on bombing in Kandahar mosque 1 Jun
John McCain says to expand opportunities for service 1 Jun
Jay Rockefeller's relationships with Japanese go way back 1 Jun
Anat Shenker met her husband during service in Honduras 31 May
Ryan Clancy punished without hearing for visiting Iraq 30 May
Melissa Mosvick remembered as a fallen American hero 29 May
Kurt Carlson played basketball against Togo's national team 29 May
Helen Thomas's favorite president remains JFK 24 May

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guyana; Blogs - Guyana


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