“Gaffin’” Value

The closest “propah” English translation of the Guyanese Creolese term “gaffin’” is “to chat”. In Hawaii, its “talking story”. But like many words with no direct translation – or at least one that does it justice, the definition is multi-facetted. Gaffin is more than a cultural backbone to socializing. It’s a valuable tool. Gaffin’ is…

World Cup Power

I squeezed in with the guys on worn sofas to watch the bubble-screen TV. Static riddled the pirated Venezuelan signal. Yet Cristiano Ronaldo racing across the World Cup field was clear. The Portuguese star performed one of his magical shots. And the once tranquil lakefront establishment broke into American English and Guyanese Creolese-lilted cheers. Soccer…

“Shii Ears Nah Bore” – Navigating Different Physical Cultural Norms

Female – and some male – ear lobes are pierced the world over. Significances of piercings and body alterations vary across cultures, eras and socio-economic classes. Most Guyanese women’s ears are pierced, across religions, many from a young age. Certain physical attributes and mannerisms already make me noticeable in crowds (embodying the stereotypical “rich, white,…

Americana Abroad

I grew up living abroad. I’ve since gotten opportunities to further work and travel internationally. Taking note of old journeys as new ones manifest, there’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot already learned, too. This is especially the case as a proud American armed with a multi-cultured consciousness. Among the most valuable lessons thus…

Equatorial Paradise – A Sweaty Survival Guide

“It’s your job to do something about this country’s heat,” winked another GUY31 trainee one sun-drenched lunch break. While the tacky joke was tangible, so was its realism. Guyana straddles the Equator. I’m no stranger to equatorial heat. I spent years in Central America – as a minor and working young adult. A handful of…

“Dem Bais n’ Gyals!”

There are many Guyanese superstions. One is that if you or someone else sweeps your feet, that you won’t get married. This blog post’s cover photo is humorously self-explanatory. Or how about we kick-off this post another, more comprehensive way… “What would you do if Commander ‘X’ and you ‘Freaky Friday’ switched bodies for the…

Celebration: An Art of War on Clean Conscious

It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point in our lives– how to balance self and others. How do I spend time with “X” people (i.e. friends, colleagues, coworkers, etc…) without doing Y (i.e: compromising myself)? I’ll give you a recent example: From university, to work and now as a proud Peace Corps…

Cultural Diversity Depths

Words flowed, yet more swept under surface. Recently, 38 Peace Corps Guyana trainees symbolized the Essequibo river flanking us – visible yet with less public depths. Some of these depths are noticeable to others, some are visible only to ourselves…and others are yet to be uncovered as addition tides of service life remain pending. Recently,…

Getting In Your Hair

A local woman once told me that when she first cut her hair short – for convenience’s sake – , her husband got mad. “He said that he first laid eyes on me many years ago…because of my hair in the wind!” she explained humorously. We were discussing how short-haired women are perceived not only…

“Mii Liik ‘Em Bad” (“This tastes delicious!”)

Guyana is occupying world news headlines for its massive oil wealth potential. The world should also know about this tiny northern South American country’s wealth of culinary tastes. With or without multi-nationals’ activities – which may or may not trickle down to the common (wo)man, such is yet to be seen – , the people…

Music for Every Moment

“The music just turns me on!” boomed the female-narrated Guyanese radio jingle. The mini bus packed with fresh-off-the-boat (literally) Americans laughed. We constituted some of the newly arrived Peace Corps GUY31 trainees. The destination: our “Survival Week” site. The state of mind: discovery and reception to the reality that we had (and still have) a…

Connecting & Disconnecting

To the west, Venezuela rocks with the Pink Tide’s end. To the south, the effects of Brazil’s corruption scandals continue to reverberate across the hemisphere. To the east, Surinamese troops sit on the Guyanese border over a 50yo + territory dispute (short compared to Venezuela’s own, more famous, territorial dispute with Guyana). To the north…

Domination, Violence

It’s been years, but I could still feel the soldier’s hands around my neck as I and the rest of GUY31 partook in the Domestic Violence portion of our Pre-Service Training (PST) recently. The speaker offered that if anyone of us “felt uncomfortable” during the session, that we could step outside. But the experience(s) had…

Transcient Life

Life is transient. And you never know when it’ll be your last time to appreciate, or even just say “bye”, to someone…or something. I took this picture of my host mother’s unofficial cat yesterday morning, while eating breakfast and obsessed about discovering my final PC site placement that day. This evening, I buried this cat…

Breaking News!: Permanent Site Placement

Last week was characterized by an expectant energy. 38 of us GUY 31 trainees were waiting to hear where we’d be sent to serve for two years – “under conditions of hardship” – throughout the country. The news arrived on Friday. The session room burst with excitement. The heat was tangible. Blazing fans bordering the…

Prequel

WHO: *(see bottom of page for bio) Aloha! My name is Ailana Navarez. WHAT: I will be serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. WHERE: Guyana, South America. WHEN: 2018 – 2020. WHY…: …Personally & Professionally: The prospect of combining an eclectic, multi-cultural past with a PC service future that champions strengthening oneself and others – positively…