News Update from Ben 2nd June 2005

Hi everyone

Been up 2 lots since I last wrote.

It's been rainy season and everywhere is now flooded. I donít remember the last time I went out and arrived at my destination with dry feet. Even when cycling sometimes the pedals go underwater and you get wet. Ever so slightly annoying.

Bryan didn't return after Easter holidays for some time. 2 American missionaries were murdered down in South Rupununi and Peace Corps were worried it was an attack against American citizens. This meant they kept him in town until it blew over. When Bryan eventually returned he told us that he thought they werenít missionaries but CIA agents, as about 7 FBI agents flew in to investigate the murder and even flew in their own forensics plane. Another shock Bryan got when he returned was that Miss Ford had taken him more or less out of the timetable. She cut his form 4 physics and chemistry and form 3 chemistry, which he was very annoyed about. In these timetable changes Iíve now been given form 4 Kuwaku to teach, so I now take both form 4's. It's no extra work, jus extra periods, I hardly ever get a free period any more! Isn't having a job tough?

We spent a slightly crazy night (one of many recently) at Rupertee. It all started during the day, they had sports and we decided to go down and watch some. Of course watching sport turned into drinking home brews; in this case it was rice wine. Between 6 of us we drank around 10 bottles. But at $100 (30p) a bottle, who can blame us? We then went to Rock view where they were supposed to have a party, but didn't. So we sat around and demolished 2 large bottles of rum between us (thatís a litre and a half between 4) and went back to Rupertee. Thatís where the fun started. I carried Sammy on my bike and we made it fine, but Duncan was carrying Bryan and got his foot caught in the front wheel and mashed up the bike. He carried his bike by another teacher and then walked home (or rather staggered across the savannah). Duncan continued on to Rupertee. While all this was going on I was having an argument with a woman. He issue was that by me standing outside chatting, I wasn't "supporting them". I thought I was, I was purchasing more of their lethal home brews and would have been dancing but for the lights being on and everyone else sitting around the outside of the room watching the dancers. So anyway after we agreed to disagree I left for Rock view. Then the night got hazy and between being at Rock view at about 2am and waking up at Rock view at day break the only thing I remember is falling off my bike (honestly, it was the pitch black night, big hill outside Annai and lack of brakes that meant I fell, not the alcohol!). I woke up at about 5:30 am and saw only one bike and Duncan next to me asleep, I half tried to wake him, thought "stuff him" and set off on my own. It turns out Duncan's bike had been stolen!

The next week Bryan was away in town and Martin, Hugh and Stefan came to stay for the weekend. ON the Friday night we waited for them to come on the bus. Only problem was the bus arrives at about 2am in Annai from Lethem, so we either had to sleep and go down, or go and party a bit before meeting them. What option do you think I chose? Anyway there were no parties. None. Searched Annai, no parties and still about 5 hours minimum until the bus arrives. So we headed back to Rock view. Here some government big wig was having his birthday. Another guy called Bryan introduced us, and the big-wig, called Ovind, told us the bar was free, he was paying. When we pressed him a bit more, he told us the government was paying. So we hung around there, got drunk for free and had a thoroughly good time. We were absolutely smashed when the bus turned up and I had a lot of trouble hanging the rope for the hammocks so they could stay. The next night was a party at Rock view, was pretty uneventful until my bike got nicked! Damn it! We have no luck with bikes; at least broken bikes can be fixed! Nicked bikes canít be found! SO anyway that left a similar situation to the last week, me and Duncan at Rock view and one bike. I thought he had gone home already and so took the bike and left him to walk. It was very wet too and I got soaked riding!

National Holidays in Guyana are pretty damn funny. We've had 4 in the space of about 4 weeks! First up was Youman-Nabi, Muslim festival I believe, who knows, like with most national holidays, no one down here celebrates them. Anyway it was on a Thursday, and at the last minute it was changed to a Friday. Probably just because everyone wanted a long weekend. Anyway we didnít get the announcement about the change until after we had dismissed school on Wednesday, meaning most of the non-residential students skipped off Scholl on Thursday and Friday! We have also had 2 others, May 1st (canít remember which one) fell the week after Youman-Nabi and then Indian Arrival day, another national holiday on a Thursday. Kids kept asking why the Indians couldn't have arrived a day later so we could have had 3 consecutive long weekends! We've also just had Independence Day, which was actually celebrated, but pretty weekly. I donít think many of the Amerindians care if itís the British, the Afro's or the Indo's governing the country! Did feel kind of weird celebrating it with everyone, especially when I realized I was helping celebrate when the Guyanese kicked us Brits out!

Miss Ford has been in trouble recently after she cut about 30 kid's pants. This was because they were wearing them too baggy around the ankles, and so low the crotch almost reached their knees. So in a crazy method of getting the kids to fix them she cut around the bottom and actually cut a hole in the crotch. This meant all the boys spent all day covering their crotch whenever they walked anywhere! Think there may be an investigation and possible court case after parents complained.

One Saturday some of the first form boys bought us a snake. I think it was a Boa Constrictor, about 4 feet long. They had shot it, with a bow about the size of a pencil and a stick with a hypodermic needle on the end for an arrow. I couldnít believe something so weedy or small could actually kill the snake. Well it wasnít totally dead, so we lopped its head off with a cutlass and then proceeded to scare Odesa and Anatha (2 female teachers) with it. Pretty cool watching its body curl up even thought the head wasnít attached any more.

Been busy planning Summer Travel, which is not that long away. I think at the moment the plan is to fly to Kaiteur, then nip down to Bolivia, do some stuff there (including mountain bike the worlds most dangerous road), then hit Peru, visit Machu Pichu, nip down to Chile and get a beer and stamp, then up to Ecuador for another passport stamp (and quite possibly a beer or six). Then get back to Guyana to fly back to boring old Britain. Nothing is definite yet, but that seems like the best plan so far.

I've been busy this week, 3rd form has been doing maths projects and I'm busy chasing up those who havenít handed them in. We've had a fiasco with the CXC exams too. First the Agri Science papers didnít show up on time and second the exams were suspended over people stealing and selling papers.

Went to Surama village for the weekend last weekend, one of the students had a birthday party so we went to that. Then we slept in the Benab of the school's cook, Dyliss, which was great, we had free accommodation. Only a cow decided to chew on my shorts and slobber on Duncan's hammock. We checked out Surama zoo where they have tapir, ocelot, caiman, 25 foot Anaconda's and a puma which they let Bryan pet. On Sunday we climbed Surama Mountain for wicked views of the village, but the mosquitoes were terrible. I got bitten everywhere. Even up my shorts! It was all good fun, especially the tractor ride there and back with 19 people on it!

I canít believe there is only one month of teaching left; school finishes in exactly 31 days, EEEK! Not only does that mean my time is almost up, but it means I got a load of work to do like writing tests, preparing registers, promoting and recommending students, completing schemes, filling out report books and marking exams. In that case I better go and start some of the work now.

Catch you all Soon

Sir Ben


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