Friday, 19 July 2013

Chenapou and Corrieyairick

The thermometer is reading 28 degrees in the shade. It never gets this hot in Scotland. Here, a hot sunny day is when it reaches the twenty mark. It seems that the climate is kindly allowing me to gradually acclimatise to Guyanese temperatures before I go there. Unfortunately it seems I have some way to go; a quick run down to the shops this morning resulted in me being so soaked in sweat that I had to change clothes and hang up the old ones to dry.

More About Chenapou

The first surprise fact for me about Chenapou when I got to training was that it rhymes with 'cow'.

Although there is a newly built airstrip at Chenapou now (after several attempts at getting it straight) the chances are that I will not fly there directly from Georgetown, the capital of Guyana where I will spend my first week. At least I hope I won't, because the other way to get there is to fly first to Kaieteur Falls. The village used to be situated here, until the Amerindians were bothered by the occasional tourists coming to sightsee, so they simply packed up and moved! A short walk upstream from the iconic waterfall followed by a couple of hours in a speedboat takes you to their new location.

The 500 members of the Patamona tribe who live here are very spread out, however, the centre of the village looks relatively compact in the pictures I have seen. The house in which Ben and I will be living in is just a stone's throw away from the school and the shop. Our accommodation is basic but well-equipped with a gas cooker, flushing toilet and electricity from solar panels. Solar panels are part of a sustainable development effort, funded by Norway in return for protection of Guyana's rainforests. Another project with similar aims is building a large hydro-electric power station in Guyana over the next few years- the Amaila Hydropower Project.

My job for the year will be teaching either grade 5 or grade 6 students in the local primary school, which is housed in one large room, with only blackboards separating the different classes. I am told I will get used to this, although it sounds like it could be a challenge to keep the children focussed, with so much going on
around them. I will be teaching English, Maths, Science and Social Science to the pupils, but also possibly spending evenings teaching the other teachers in the school who will be trying to achieve the qualifications they need to be officially allowed to teach in Guyana.

The neighbouring village  is called Paramakatoi (PK) and is a two day walk through the jungle away, although the Amerindians can manage it in one. I might make this my challenge for the year.

Supplies in Chenapou are very expensive, so we are recommended to buy most of our shopping for each term in Georgetown. There is no postal service, no internet, no telephone, and no mobile signal. The only method of communication is by radio, or finding somebody to take your post to Georgetown with them. Even if you manage this, the Guyanese postal system isn't the most reliable, so I hope you will understand if my blog is not well updated after I leave.

I Haven't Forgotten...

As part of my fundraising campaign to go to Guyana, I promised that I would mountain-bike over the Corrieyairick pass, then turn around and hike the whole 26 miles back over again. As a sponsored event, this became surplus when I exceeded my target, so absolutely nobody is sponsoring me for this challenge, however, I won't let that put me off, and it would be on my conscience forever if I just skipped it out. It was always a part of the fundraising, written in the leaflets, so it will be done.

This weekend, I hope to complete the Corrieyairick challenge, with the help of my family, despite the sweltering Scottish heat. I'll let you know how it goes...

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