So I have made it through the first wave of culture shock. I received a lot of excellent advice before I left and have traveled before so I was pretty aware of some of the emotional transitions that I would go through. Of course there are always some surprises every time you go somewhere new. Adjusting to a different pace of life, being away from home and the familiar, adjusting to weather, culture and ways of speaking all have an impact.
I’ve realized that I miss (a lot) being able to go out walking the streets after 8pm. Of course there are people and places I miss seeing, Simple things like eating and washing clothes can be dramatically different. Moving through crowds (something I am can do easily at home) is shockingly difficult here just because people move differently. I also miss being able to blend in and not stick out EVERYWHERE I go.
None of these things has been overwhelming… but it is necessary to recognize that life is different, take the time to adjust and then move forward (and remember that it will probably hit again when I least expect it). As I’ve been settling I’ve enjoyed taking some time to rest and read over the past week.
But today I felt more adjusted than I had all week. So I went out walking with no schedule, just waiting to see what would happen.
Saturdays are nice because I can wear shorts. Though it is very hot here almost all of the guys wear pants most of the time. At work I have to wear pants (though I am lucky enough to be able to wear jeans and a T-shirt) so I end up wearing them for the whole day. But on Saturdays I can happily walk around in short and a tank top (as long as I don’t stay out in the sun too long).
As I was wandering around (enjoying a nice breeze) I heard some steelpan music coming out of a shop. Poked my nose in and there was a Rastafarian man and some friends liming (the Guyanese term for hanging out) and making some music. I must have been in there for almost an hour and a half. This guy was AMAZING. I can’t even express to you how talented he was. He has been playing since the 60s and he could make them sing. He ended up giving me introductory lessons. I’m definitely going to go back and give it a try again sometime soon!
Who knows who I will get to meet next?
Drew Badgley is a student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, studying International Development Studies, currently on Co-op placement in Guyana.