Email from Ben 23rd September 2004

Hi everyone, itís been almost one whole month since I set off from sunny Britain on my way to even sunnier Guyana! So I thought it was about time for a nice big update for everyone. Ok first my house. Im living in a pretty decent building, made from brick, it has electricity from 6pm -10pm (some nights 6pm -12pm) and has a full plumbing system. The only thing the plumbing system lacks is water! So itís a 300m trek to the well and back quite often. Iím living with my Project Trust partner, Duncan and a Peace Corps volunteer from the States called Brian. Its weird having 3 of us as I only expected there to be 2, but we all getting on well, sharing the cooking and cost of everything. House is now looking a lot nicer since we killed a large number of the cockroaches out. Walking boots are surprisingly good for that. Weíve also managed to sling a hammock, which completers mastering the art of liming (lazing around and doing nothing, Guyanese style). Teaching is going great, the school is about 200m from our house. I would say that means I can get up late, but getting up late means sometime after 6:30 here! School starts at 8 and runs through to 1:30. Iím teaching math to 5 forms, spread over 4 age groups. I have also just been appointed form teacher for one of my classes too. All the classes have cool names, which are the names of birds in Macusi. I teach Sakaika (Skaiga) Pauwi (Powee) Anra (Angra) Wakuka (Wakuga) Kiake (Kiage). Kiake are my form class. Their ages range from 11 to 16, some of the form 5ís, that I donít teach, are as old as 18. The school is pretty small scale. 9 classes spread over the 5 years, 216 pupils, my largest class is 29 and smallest 16. There were 14 teachers, but 2 of them have gone to Georgetown to get proper teacher training. Most of the rest of the teachers are very young. Except Greaves and Miss Ford (the HM) all of the teachers are under 25, of which I would say 7 or 8 are younger than 20. Many are ex-pupils who stay on and teach a subject that they did well in at CXC. The kids are wicked, really friendly, even if some of them can be a little intrusive when they come over to the house. Iím actually starting to learn a lot of names and im really getting settled in at the school now. I have been teaching since 2nd September so thatís 3 full weeks under my belt. Plus I really like being called sir all the time. They find my name a little weird, because Benjamin is a popular surname around here, but being called Sir Ben has a certain ring to it. Well I would think that! Outside of school I havenít been doing much. A lot of time has been put in to settling down, doing things like cleaning the house, buying bikes and other things. Really looking forward for the chance to get out and explore the amazing landscape here. Itís so beautiful. Wide open grassy savannah, broken up only by small mountains, covered in dense rainforest. The kind of landscape you cant imagine properly until you see it. The wide open landscape is awesome but can be a nuisance. We are actually 45mins walk (5km) away from Annai village and also the nearest shop/rum selling establishment. This means a 10km walk if you just want to get some onions and chicken to make a curry! How we humans take the like of Tesco and Asda for granted! Thankfully a bike is on its way over from Lethem so I can cycle which takes a lot less time. Speaking of rum it is really good, and really cheap, around $1000 (3 quid) will get you large rum and a large bottle of coke. The food round here is really nice. It kind of depends on what we make ourselves but we are perfecting the art of making Rotis which are a cross between naan bread and a pancake as well as loads of other dishes. There is plenty to eat and everything, like I mentioned the only major hardship is the distance to get it. Hoping to chat to a few people who work at Iwokrama (rainforest reserve about 2 hours north) so we can get a trip organized up there and explore it. They have a wicked forest canopy walk and 1 in 3 visitors see a Jaguar.

Anyway I must be going, have lessons to plan, and hammocks to lie in

Sir Ben


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