Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ultra-Eating Boy

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

There is a very likely chance I will be chubby and out of shape when I return from Guyana. As I mentioned yesterday, I am struggling with getting out and running. I also have been sitting a lot more with work and during my leisure time. I am NOT however, having a difficult time getting out and eating and drinking all that Guyana has to offer. I thought with a very tight living allowance, I would be eating nothing but Ramon(which I have had), but I actually have gone to the market on several occasions and loaded up on some good local veggies.

I do eat most of my meals at home, but my landlord and I have gone out several times and had many local delicacies. As well as plenty of good-cheap local beer, Banks, which is made with barley and rice(definitely not following Germany's purity laws). And today I ran out of my sandwich stuff so I walked across the road from work and got chicken, chowmein and this amazing chick-pea concoction for $2!!! And it was super-filling. Last night I had a fried egg. Not like a pan-fried egg, this is a hard boiled egg that is then put in a batter(like stuffing) and fried. It's delicious. Each one only costs about 70 cents.

For that price, it actually may be cheaper to eat out! But not as healthy. I'll probably still pack a lunch and stick to those treats for the weekends! Otherwise I'll be ultra-eating boy. Hmmm. Actually that's probably already closer to the truth:)

Two of the dishes I've made. Rice is almost always the main ingredient in most meals with local, fresh veggies.

This is an eggplant stuffed with garlic, onion and tomato roasted. Eat it with a spoon:)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Running in Guyana

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

How to run in Guyana:

Okay so I shouldn't complain. I have an awesome job working in a department that right now I spend my days instructing yoga, doing aerobics, and playing cricket. It will get harder once I have to promote sustainability and get others to do what I'm doing but for now it is really fun. Also, here's the good part of where I have been stationed: I have running water(albeit not potable), I have a two bedroom apartment(albeit one that is infected by ants). I live in a town where I can get anything that I want from home(albeit for about half of my monthly allowance). It never rains here(albeit supposedly there is a rainy season).

Okay, I realize those are pseudo-positives, In reality, It hasn't rained once and I'm the only runner on the road. However, I do share that road with donkeys, cows, goats, pedestrians, fast-moving taxis and cars. In addition, with the humidity close to 100 percent, running at all is pretty difficult. My mileage so far has suffered as well as my speed. I probably should not have signed up for marathon only a month after coming to Guyana.

What is done is done. I have signed up for it and am starting my training. Most of my runs have been under 30 minutes. Not due to lack of time but because pure and utter fatigue due to the heat. Plus, I am not totally motivated by the two choices of direction that I have to run.

Okay negatives aside!!!!

  • It hasn't rained yet!
  • I run faster than I would anywhere else. Solely because of the constant-why you go so slow, white boy? from the peanut gallery.
  • If I had some Infit nutrition, I probably could make it another mile... haha. Sponsor plug. But True in that they provide awesome well-balanced electrolytes. If only my friend, Rich Lavers, had used them during Bear Brook...
  • I love that I can go running whenever and it's the same temperature- this is also a curse. It's 80+ degrees at 7a and 80+ at 6p. So go whenever. As long as you finish in the daylight.
  • You get to see more birds that you have ever seen. So this is a real positive. There really is so many bird species that I have never seen. I wish I knew more about them because some of them are beautiful. Either way: worth it.

The real best part of running in Guyana? Once you get out of the coast(where I live) nobody is there and you can run where-ever you want for as long as you want. I cannot wait to get out and see the hinterland(as they call the areas way from the coast).

Until then,

My best,


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You Can't Always Judge a Book By Its Cover

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

I was debating about writing before today, but I was taught that if you have nothing good to say don't say anything at all. So I didn't write. My start in New Amsterdam started off good enough. I moved into my apartment and was taken out by my landlord and his cousin in-law for a night on the town. I arrived back that night to encounter a tarantula in my apartment! I hurriedly smashed it with my shoe and then snuck into my bed net.

I awoke the next morning in a mood that would make sour milk seem fresh. It was around 8 in the morning and I already was sweating through my clothes. No air conditioning at the apartment. I then proceeded to drink all of my remaining water before realizing that my water filter took approximately forever to extract potable water. 

My day didn't improve much as I went for a walk around town. It seemed like on every corner there was someone burning trash, little kids calling out "white boy", and a car swerving towards me as I walk on the sidewalk-less streets. After spending more of my food allowance than I wanted on bottled water(beer is cheaper than water here. And Rum is considerably cheaper), I arrived back to my apartment to find it covered with a thin layer of ash and a plethora of ants. I went for a run only to find myself thoroughly wiped after only 20 minutes. I tried to cool myself down in the shower but that was an impossibility. 

Sidebar-my apartment's shower in New Amsterdam does not have a hot and cold faucet. It only has one and its temperature depends on how much sunlight has been hitting the water container before I jump in. So cooling myself down with a cold shower like I was in the hotel in Georgetown is an impossibility.

A miserable day. I hoped it was just because I was recovering from my "welcome party".

Except the next day was more of the same. I couldn't start my stove thus making my planned breakfast of eggs an impossibility. I endured more "white boy"s on my mile walk to work as well as an "okay" to every "hello" I issued. Really? Did I have a "I hate Guyana" T-shirt on? I got to work only to find out how little I understood my counterparts. Wait. Wasn't this an English speaking country? Well.... it is except everyone speaks a creolese that is about as similar to English as English is to Elvish(I couldn't think of a better analogy-sorry). 

To complicate matters more, the doctors all speak Spanish with very little English. So here I am, unable to understand most of the nurses and staff and unable to make myself understood by the doctors. Oh and then there's the patients. On the first ten minutes of my tour of the wards, I saw more penises than a day of Snapchats at Shelton High School. 

So there you have it, I spared you what probably would have been quite a diatribe of complaints compounded by my realization that I was going to be away from everyone I love for a long time for this. 

Another good night sleep plus some serious venting to the ever-patient and awesome Kendra, allowed me to see that you cannot always judge a book by its cover(see how I snuck that in there?), and if I had written that blog on Monday I would have been misleading.  Because:

  • I looked up that "tarantula"- I guess it was actually a wolf spider. Still at nearly 6 inches in diameter, I don't know if I want them around. Luckily. If I remember to plug the drains before I got to bed, they don't come in. Supposedly. At least they haven't since.
  • That ash was actually from sugar cane burnings. They do this to clear the field before they harvest the crop. They do burn their trash but infrequently and usually in a centralized location
  • "Okay" or "Alright" is the creolese response to hello. It's considered the polite version. 
  • Creolese IS hard to understand but I think I'm getting it. Plus, I've wanted to work on my Spanish so that end is a good thing.
  • I can avoid most of the graphic nudity if I wait until after they have had their breakfasts. AND once they are ready, the patients are awesome. I am excited to see how I can help make their lives better here. 
  • Yes so there are A LOT of ants here. But I view it as a challenge as I've been know to not be the most cleanly. Already just by immediately washing my dishes and avoid spilling half my dinner on the floor, I have cut down on the number traipsing around my floor. Plus, I have tree frogs. Some of you may not be clear on how that's a plus, but tree frogs eat ants and having a couple hopping around my apartment is a bonus. 
  • So a couple days into me being here and I think the locals have realized I'm not a tourist but here to work and not only do I not get the "white boy" any more but I also am often greeted with a friendly hello. 
  • I have nothing nice to say about this heat. It is hot here. Period. Hot and humid. My only hope is that I adapt. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, but I signed myself up for the Guyana trail marathon in November. It's a fundraiser for an Amerindian school and is run through the rainforest. Now I just need to get in running shape! 

Until next time,

Bye(that's Creolese for bye)!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Day Around Georgetown

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

Okay. I have had about enough orientation for a while. I've been in Georgetown since Monday morning and am ready to move to my site and start my assignment. Georgetown has been pleasant. I have found the National Park which is a fairly decent place to go running and today we drove around and found some nice sights and stopped at the seawall and some of the bustling markets. 
The market

Since I'm currently living out of a hotel, I have limited use for most of the wares being sold at the market but I can definitely see myself coming back there when I can cook up some of the fresh foods being sold. 

View from the hotel

Botanical Gardens

The City Hall

 The seawall is a tease. It looks nice but the water color hints at the tainted nature of the water due to both amazonian silt as well as raw sewerage. I will not likely be swimming in the ocean. What is cool about it though is that all 280 miles of it,built by the Dutch, serves a very useful purpose. It actually retins the Atlantic Ocean which is 6 feet higher than most of Guyana! 

I'm in Georgetown until Saturday morning then I head to New Amsterdam and start at the hospital on the Monday. I'll have a better idea how this year is going to go at that point. 

Until then,

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Greetings from Guyana!

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

And so it begins. The first day of orientation down here in Guyana. Yesterday I arrived and had the day to adjust. That included going for a run. Which turned into a 14 minute slog. Boy it is hot and humid down here! At least for this first week I get air conditioning so that's nice. And buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner; which frankly I cannot differentiate. They all seem almost the exact same. And supposedly this place has the best food in the city. I suspect I will be making most of my meals anyway given my meager food allowance.

Today I started orientation and I now know why things move slowly in the government. There are so many policy and procedures. I realize that most of them are for my benefit but gosh: some of the restrictions are quite limiting. The nice thing that I found out is that Guyana has a lot of national holidays so I should be able to explore the country without using my limited holiday allowance. The downside is that even holidays and weekends count against my vacation time if I leave the country(it seems that they really want me to stay in- which right now doesn't seem like too bad of a deal).

Soooo. It looks like I won't have many opportunities to get out of the country. I plan on meeting up with Kendra in the Caribbean at some point, go to Brazil(maybe to meet my brother), and then I might use a vacation day or two to go into Suriname and possibly French Guyana[Guyane]. I know my real adventure starts next week when I go to the National Psychiatric Hospital and see what state it is.

Until then I will enjoy a few exotic(to me) beers and the nice sea breeze from my hotel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mister Misnomer

Thank heavens for Amber! If it weren't for her holding up her half of the bargain in regard to the name of this blog, we would be in some serious trouble. Luckily, she's been pretty active on the race scene albeit not at the Ironman distance(her last IM was IM CDA). It seems this has been the year for changing up the types of races she's been doing which have ranged from an ultramarathon to, recently, bike races. Last weekend she won the Kearsarge Hill climb and this past weekend she was up in Killington Vermont crushing the competition at a 4 day long stage race. From my understanding she won the competition outright as well as 3 of the four stages. Pretty impressive, I would say.
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So thank you Amber for doing that, because I have not been holding up the Ultra-running boy part at all. It's been several years since my last ultra marathon but I've come to terms that changing the name of the blog to IrongirlandrunningeverythingBUTultrasboy would just add to the confusion about our name. So that was okay. But now I'm not really running at all. And I'm fine with it. To clarify, I am running for fitness but just not racing anymore.

Not racing certainly frees up a lot of time(and money in your wallet)! I hope none of you mind if I continue to refer to myself with this misnomer. Just talking about ultras is pretty exhausting and makes me feel that I am getting a good workout. Fitness by association? Oh boy, I would be very fit!

But I have not just been sitting on my keister. These past two weekends have been crazy with a surprise going away party thrown for me last weekend and wrapping up everything at work. Then this weekend involved a Red Sox game with my siblings, another surprise party for my mom's birthday at a lake house and then my brother, Andrew and I drove down to Atlanta so he could have my car when I'm in Guyana. I'm actually writing this in Philly awaiting my connecting flight so I can get back up to New England where I will visit with my nieces one more time then spend my last few days hiking up in the White Mountains.

I am looking forward to this new challenge in Guyana but my friends and family has certainly made me really appreciate my time with them these last few weeks. It is sure to be a great experience but I know I will be looking forward to returning. And maybe a return to racing? Who knows:)

The first week I'm in Guyana I will be stationed in a hotel while I undergo Peace Corps orientation prior to heading to New Amsterdam. During that first week, I should still should have access to internet so will probably be updating you all via the blog or facebook. I turn my phone off at the end of the week so if you're trying to get in touch with me email or FB message me.

I will try to keep you posted on all my adventures as well as the Irongirl's expected continued world dominance! Stay tuned!

Oh I almost forgot! I finally got the memory card from our Great White shark tank dive when we were in South Africa. Here are some pics:

Maybe if I make it out to the Rainforest while I'm in Guyana, I will post some photos of their 400+ pound catfish:)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What you are to do without me I cannot imagine ;)

It's easy to start feeling sorry for myself for all I will be missing, but instead I am thankful for all the times I have had with them and look forward to sharing time with them again when I return and show them all how much they are loved. I also have to remind myself that this is something that I've always wanted to do and that I will hopefully return a better person from all the experiences that I will have while away. I don't leave to go away but to come back better. 

It's starting to hit me how soon I will be leaving and how much I will be missing. 

And the danger is that in this move toward new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.

Kendra got together my family and friends and held a surprise party for me last weekend and it occurred to me how much I'll have missed in each of their lives  by the time I get back. By the time I return I will have missed Christmas for the first time EVER with my family, everyone's birthdays, my mother's retirement, pre-work breakfasts with my parents, time spent with my two beautiful nieces, untold numbers of parties, trivia nights, Parks and Rec episodes, hikes and races. 

It made me realize how blessed I am to have such a great group of people in my life and to have never missed any of those things before. To think that I've gone this far in my life and have been able to go to each and every Christmas with my family is pretty amazing. Just the amount of trips that I've gone on in this past year is crazy to think about and I have had so many wonderful times and have been lucky to share them with some pretty amazing people. Just to have almost all of my family still living nearby and visiting those that aren't fairly frequently is another blessing.

I suspect the heat and humidity in Guyana will also make me really appreciate those nice cool crispy autumn days in New Hampshire. I may never leave again:)