Trip Start May 15, 2006
Trip End May 24, 2006

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Flag of Guyana  ,
Friday, May 19, 2006

We're still alive and relatively well-hydrated. No sunburns yet but some are getting mosquito bit--no malaria on the coastline so no worries until tomorrow with trip to Kaieteur Falls in the "hinterlands" as the interior is referred to here.

Last night reception with Guyana Nurses Association--same story, different continent. One of the nurses performed a skit that was basically a conversation between two nurses, one a GNA member and the other proclaiming that, "Da assoceeashun do nutin fo me". The other nurse replied with how the assoc. helps nurses..."mon". I hear two students behind me had movie cameras--ho boy I hope they got that on tape. What I hope is not on tape is the GNA nurses dancing and singing a folksong customized for us "Nurses Fire, So Make So" and pulling us up to dance with them. Julia V. from OKC chided us rigid old white women and "got down" which put our host from UofG into peals of laughter--she gave Julia a huge hug. Then we ate boudin sausage (actually, it was white pudding) and curried fish--very good.

We are having a very productive and fun visit--much more of both than I anticipated. We have been very welcomed as the days have drawn on and the Guyanese have seen our sincerity in wanting a collaboration.

We had a party for the U of G students and the director, hosted here in guest house with food provided by our students last night. We sang "Oklahoma!" and later the US Nat'l Anthem and they sang "This Land Is Your Land" substituting Guyanese references. I couldn't get them to understand that the song's writer was from Oklahoma--it was pure coincidence (or was it?)! They also sang their nat'l anthem. "Brudah" Owen J., one of the students (nurses are referred to here as Sister or Brother) told me that several universities have visited U of G, but none had done this for them. I could see that they all were genuinely touched that we SOCIALIZED with them! We had sung "Okla" to the director on the minibus on the way to New Amsterdam. She suggested we sing it to the students, and it was very culturally relevant to do so--there has been singing at every social event and it again touched the Guyanese students that we would extend ourselves in that way. There is a hopping sports (meaning cricket) bar across the street and of course all windows are open throughout Guyana at night, so I can imagine the spectacle we made--US and Guyana. Later a few of us went for the US$.50 rum shots (Yes, 50 cents for a [very nice] Demerara rum and $1.00 for a Coke to split into two drinks--drinks are not served mixed here) and of course there is the ubiquitous guard at the gate to the bar, so I asked him if he had liked the singing. He smiled broadly (a rare occurrence with the stern guards here) and said, "Yes, very much so!" Heh heh--we are getting quite a rep around here. Again today as we drove through town someone called out "NURSES!!!!"--third time now that something similar has happened (other times someone passing our van on his bike called out "What up, teacher girls?" and an old man we passed on the sidewalk bid us, "Good evening, sisters"). We stick out quite a bit--I am totally amazed at the lack of white people here. Have had NO TROUBLE at all, only neutral or, more usually, warm interactions. We greet everyone we pass on the sidewalk and they visibly relax--we are strangers in so many ways and I can see how we could make people uncomfortable. A toddler sitting on his father's lap in the waiting area in a clinic at the "squatter's town" of Sophia was really studying the face of one of the other faculty--60+ year old white woman, VERY strange to see.
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