The last crab march

There are so many stories to tell since the last time I wrote on the blog but I’ll stick to a couple.

One morning Coby (my project partner) got a phone call and wandered over to grade 5 (we don’t have classrooms so we tend to wander between our classes) and asked if I wanted to go catch crab that afternoon. The crab only march twice a year so when they do everyone goes out to catch them. We sort of assumed going to the crab bush would take a couple of hours and the bush would be much like a bush back home. We started to suspect we were once again having a naive white people moment when we got told to bring long boots and gloves.

Turns out the crab bush is actually the knee deep mud around the mangrove on the coast. Catching the crab involves waiting on the boat until nightfall and then waiting through the mud trying to grab a crab and throw it in the bucket before you get pinched. We spent all night falling over until the buckets were full and we were wet and cold.

After eating crab 3 meals a day for a couple of days I can safely say I won’t need any more crab for a while!

Other brief updates: we have a puppy called Rambo, we’ve moved house into somewhere without a family of bats in residence and we’ve started to learn the Arawak language.

Please write.

Much love,

Josh

The hard work begins…

This is my first post from ‘in project’. I am currently visiting a school in Charity where we were told there was meeting, however it has not happened but they have let us use the WiFi in the computer lab. There are no such facilities where we are based in Wakapoa so I have taken the opportunity to write this post. As I am writing my project partner Coby has just agreed with the Head Master to let us bring some of the kids from Wakapoa here for IT lessons.

Before our weekend excursion we had spent almost a month in Wakapoa and with three weeks teaching under my belt I can safely say it’s far harder than I ever imagined. We are teaching primary and secondary which although a lot of fun means we are both trying to cram the curriculum for both into half the time! It’s really surprised me how fast I’ve transitioned from being the kid who sat at the back of class to the teacher who walks around the class threatening a seating plan if people don’t start getting work done!

When we aren’t teaching we tend to spend a lot of time in the bush sitting around with families who take us in. Most of the time we end up with uncle Ian who calls us his boys and has pretty much treated us like family. When he found out we were bucket showering he went and got us a couple of calabash, it’s half a hollowed out fruit that you use to throw water over your self. Another group that has taken us in has been a bunch of builders who are on Wakapoa for a couple of weeks. We sit and gaff with them lots and they always bring out interesting food! One afternoon when we had missed lunch and were wondering what to do they came over with some curry. Mostly we get chicken curry, that afternoon it was an Iguana they had caught the day before. Incase you’re wondering…it is still green when you eat it.

Guyana: Week 1

I have now officially made it to the end of week one of my year in Guyana.

On Wednesday I move out to Wakapao to begin teaching and trying to cut it as a responsible adult. But for our first week in the country me and all the other volunteers have been in Georgetown collecting essentials (hammocks, machetes and suncream) and generally getting acclimatised. There has been so much going on that I can’t even begin to cover it so I’ll pick a few to give you an idea.

One afternoon we went to a street market in the city to learn a bit about local fruit and to attempt to have a chat with some locals. The variety of food we came back with was pretty astounding, everything from a jag fruit which is probably about twice the size of a watermelon and spiky to whiteys which are a little bigger than a grape, you suck on them and they taste like marshmallow! Me and Coby were enticed by a very enthusiastic lady who made lots of actions and noises about how to cook our purchase. Turns out we came 5000 miles and bought an Aubergine.

On Thursday evening we were invited by the British High Commissioner to come to his house and say hello. Before hand we were briefed about how we should address him and told to behave. When we arrived he walked out and said “hey I’m Andrew fancy a beer”. Considering that he was a fairly important guy we were all impressed that he made time for a few hours of pool frisbee with 24 teenagers. Evening well spent.

We have also had out first experience of Guyanese raining, I don’t even know how to describe how hard it rained but I’ve never seen rain even close to that loud or that powerful. At the flat we had an outside sunshade structure made of some fairly substantial wood and a tarpaulin. By the morning we just had a very big mess on the floor. On the upside I started to make a spoon out of some of the wood using the machete.

I wanted to continue having a recommends listening for this blog. I kind of assumed by now it would mainly be Bob Marley. The stuff we’ve listened to has been so diverse that I don’t know how to start explain it. The one thing I will say is that there I only one place I’ve heard anyone play buffalo solider, it’s a flat full of white kids.

Keep safe, please write.

Much love
Josh

Training week on Coll

Hey guys,

Yesterday I returned from Coll, this is a really very tiny island in the Inner Hebrides where all the Guyana, Namibia and Ghana volunteers went for a week of training so that we can teach in a semi-competent manner and generally survive.

Before I go into anything else, this is a short playlist so you can get a rough feel for how this post should sound.

– Under the same sun – Ben Howard

–  At the zoo – Simon and Gafunkel

– I’m A Cuckoo – Belle and Sebastien

– We’re going to be friends – Jack Johnson

My training week started at five O’clock in the morning in order to make an eight O’clock flight to Glasgow, followed by a four hour train to Oban, so that I could get a ferry at quarter past five the next morning to Coll. From Glasgow there are only two carriages going to Oban so it became apparent really quite early on that there were only about 5 people who weren’t with Project Trust. Over the course of the train, hostel and ferry journey it became obvious that the group from Guyana was going to be a pretty tight knit unit.

The main body of the week consisted of a totally standard combination of how to teach and how not to get any tropical illnesses, with a brief interlude on the best way to sleep in a hammock. After sitting and listening and making notes on all of it I can safely say I have never been both this excited and terrified at the same time. This time last week I was backing my bags with no idea how to teach, and could only just get by, getting food out of the fridge!   In a month I will become a fully fledged secondary school teacher and if we want some meat then it would be far more convenient to go and kill something than to get to a fridge.

The other thing needing to go into this post is about Wakapao, this is where I will be living for the year with a guy called Coby (Coby is great. We have already perfected the top gun high five and will probably come back something like Bret and Jermain.) Wakapoa is in the north of the country in region 2, it’s really a group of small islands so when we get there we need to get a boat. How exciting. There is a newly built secondary school, and it looks likely I will be teaching mainly maths and science but really could have to teach anything. Our address will be as follows:

Wakapoa Secondary school, Wakapoa, region 2, Guyana, South America

Please do write, letters might take about a month but it would mean a lot to get a few letters from you guys. On a separate note I do realise the spelling discrepancy in Wakapao between the address and the rest of the post. This is because the name given by previous volunteers is different to the one given by PT, we’ll see how that one pans out.

The photo below is Team Guyana 13/14, Coby is the guy to my left.

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I will be travelling to Guyana on 18th August, flying from Gatwick around midday, it would be great to catch up with as many of you as I can before I leave.

Thanks again to everyone for all your help and support,

Much love,

Josh

…and so it begins…

Hey guys,

Many of you already know that next september I will be going on a gap year to Guyana in South America. I have put a map below, this is mainly to clarify that I’m not going to Ghana and that I just can’t spell it. While I’m there I will be teaching GCSE level Maths and Physics, in the 1980’s there was a ‘brain drain’ in Guyana which means most of the people who were qualified, such as teachers and doctors, left to make more money elsewhere. In order to fill this void groups such as Project Trust (who I am doing my gap year with) send people to volunteer as teachers.

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Clearly this is a worthwhile way to spend my time, however before I go I will need to fundraise to support the cost of being there for a year. This is the point where I begin to call in old and dubious claims to favours and start to beg for your money. Currently there are a number of plans being hatched which I will update you on as and when they are ready for public consumption.

Much love,

Josh