Email from Ben 28th February 2005

Hi everyone and welcome to another update on my adventures in Guyana.

Itís been a quiet month as far as wild and wacky adventures go, but thatís down to the aftermath of my last adventure, the cycle to Lethem. My bike had had only one, ever so tiny, minor, teeny weenie, slight problem since I got back to Annai. Nope, the back wheel hasnít broken, the handle bars are still in one piece and the chain is still pretty solid. The only problem is that it is still stuck in Lethem, 90 miles down the road! Unbelievable! The worst thing is, the teacher who rode with us, Choyee, was riding a studentís bike, and he is really miffed that his bike hasn't come back.

The weekend after we got back from Lethem we had a visit from John Fraser, one of our bosses at Project Trust. He and Alison (our desk officer) were touring the projects, although due to the flooding he could only spend 24 hours with us. It was quite amusing when all the students thought it was Duncan's dad. He treated us to dinner at Rockview, we were impressed with him paying for it all, until we realized his expenses come from the money we raised for Project Trust at the start of the year, so dinner was really on us! Also due to a lack of Pumpkins at our usual "dealer" we couldnít treat him to a selection of our culinary delights. He sent a report to my parents about me which can be read on my website along with some photos he took while here. I will run through a brief explanation of the photos for those of you who can take a look. The first photo is the approach to Annai "international" airport. Luckily the planes normally land during school hours so you canít see Duncan, Bryan and I using it as a sneaky shortcut to Rockview. The next is Duncan and I; note the very large bottle of "West Indian Hot Sauce" which often accompanies many meals. There is the photo of me teaching, notice Abram sneaking a look at the camera, while I check his answers. The shot of Rockview is obviously not going to be a very lively seen as the Annai Secondary teachers arenít down there. There isnít a party in the North Rupununi thatís any fun without us. The photo taken from the plane isnít actually of Annai. Its of Bina Hill, where the school is based, Annai is in the other direction. You could make out the school and the bush hiding my house, but as you donít know any of the places, you probably wonít be able to! The last photo is of Duncan teaching. I think it makes the school look bad with the barred windows and grey walls. The walls are actually a nice cream colour, just a rainy day and bad light for the picture.

We've been doing a lot of odd jobs around the compound. We dug up and re-planted the schools flag pole. We also built a volleyball pitch at the sports ground which is really good fun to play. We've fitted some gutters to the house so we can collect the rain of the roof. Means less trekking to the well (no development on running water as yet). We managed to kick the bats, mostly, out of the roof too, although still not sure how to fully get rid. I also have mounted some nice hooks in my room so I can sling my hammock and kick back and relax when I get in from school. Had to drag myself out of it to come up here and write this! Also the generator is now working! We had lights for the first time last night since the 3rd of January!

End of term exam's are coming up on Friday so I am going to be snowed under marking tests, writing report books and making schemes for next term. Iím hopeful most of my students are going to pass, especially the 1st formers.

This Friday we are also heading out to one of the villages Wowetta for some Cock-of-the-Rock observation. Thatís the bright orange bird, thatís endangered. They have a cabin you can stay in before viewing them early morning.

Also coming up are the Easter holidays. We've put off going to Kaiteur falls until summer so I will probably spend the time each side of the Rodeo in Brazil. Plus as I'm going to be in Lethem, I can say hi to my bike again!

Last Friday was also the halfway point for me. 6 months down, 6 months to go. I also have a date for my return to the UK. I will be landing at Gatwick airport at around 6am on the 23rd of August. Make a date in your diaries!

Speak to you all soon

Sir Ben

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