Lemon Carrot Ginger Juice

IMG_4834 I’ve had a few friends tell me here that Guyanese don’t like anything green, and I have to say – it’s true.  Oh sure, you’ll find the occasional cucumber or piece of lettuce on your plate, but that’s about it.  Broccoli and asparagus are myths here, and spinach is a legend.  The few green vegetables that are common – like bora and callaloo – are often chopped into small pieces and barely recognizable in stews and rice dishes. And so this lovely and inspiring blend is my brainchild after longing for fresh vegetables and scouring the internet for an elixir that didn’t involve yogurt, strawberries or berries of any kind (sadly unavailable here).  It has only a few simple ingredients (one of which is a top five favorite of mine!) and can be made in about 30 minutes (I know that sounds long, but it includes some pretty essential soak-time for the carrots).  So if you’re vegetable deprived or itching for some beta carotene or just want to improve your eyesight, slap me a (virtual) high-five my friend, and get your blender revved up!
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Lemon Carrot Ginger Juice

Ingredients: 1 lemon 4 carrots 2 T ginger 5 T sugar 2 C hot water Makes about 3 6 oz glasses Directions: After washing and peeling carrots, chop them into small coins or half-moons.  Place in blender along with sugar, ginger, lemon juice, and about 1 C hot water. IMG_4815 It’s hard to say how much ginger to add.  I’m a ginger fanatic, so I listed about 2 T in the ingredients.  Here’s a photo of how much ginger I put in this blend –  the chopped up pieces are what I added, the whole ginger root to the side is about how much I cut up. IMG_4800   I used fresh-squeezed lemon juice, though I’m sure store-bought lemon juice is fine.  We never buy it here because it’s $8 per bottle!  3rd world robbery. IMG_4807 After blending all ingredients, your carrot mixture will look like this: IMG_4816 Pour it into a large bowl with your remaining C of hot water.  Allow everything to soak for about 10 minutes. IMG_4824 You’ll notice a nice fibrous consistency as the water draws out the flavors of your lemon, ginger and carrot. IMG_4827 After about 10 minutes, you can begin straining.  Place the carrot mixture (about 1 C at a time) in a fine mesh strainer.  Gently press to release all the juice and goodness. IMG_4831 After straining your mixture, you can discard the now-dehydrated carrots.  Refrigerate your fabulous Lemon Carrot Ginger Juice for about a half hour – or just pour over ice and serve immediately like we do here! Enjoy! ♥ IMG_4847

How to Know if you’ve Become Guyanese

If you’ve ever lived abroad, you know that there comes a point where you wonder if you’re naturalized.  Your passport is stamped, your palate has matured, you cease referring to the country of your birth as “home.”  You’ve adapted to a new climate, you understand local colloquialisms, you’ve seen babies grow into children.  You have to wonder at this point, “Have I fully adapted?  Am I now a card-carrying citizen of this country?  Have the locals finally embraced me as one of their own?  Are papayas really 500 GYD or am I still being charged foreigner prices?

I’ve pondered these questions for some time now, and I have decided that yes,  I am bona-fide Guyanese.  I’m fully acclimatized, fully Caribbean and this is why I say “I barn here” when people ask me where I’m from.  Guyana is my home.  However, others might still be wondering, “Am I Guyanese? Have I fully adapted?” And so I’ve put together this 6 part post so that you can see if you, like me, are a naturalized Guyanese citizen.  I invite you, read along…

You know you’re Guyanese if:

1. You get sick in the rain

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Everyone said it when I first arrived in Guyana. “Don’t walk in the rain.  The rain gonna make you SICK!”  Mothers chided their children for walking in the rain,  sniffling friends would tell me they acquired their runny nose from walking in the rain. At first I couldn’t understand this.  It rains every day here, and the temperature is never below 75.  So how on earth would you a) avoid walking in the rain and b) catch a cold in the tropics?  I thought everyone must mean don’t walk in the rain without your umbrella, but no.  Even when I walked amidst droplets with my umbrella shielding me completely, total strangers would tell me I shouldn’t be walking in the rain.  I was amused by this.  I didn’t think I could ever actually get sick from rain that was the temperature of bath water.  The rain was refreshing!  The rain was a hiatus from the heat!  And then, the rain made me sick.

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The tsk tsk from everyone I knew resonated in my head. They shook their head at me and said, “You shoulna been walkin in da rain.”  So now I believe it.  The rain gave me a cold and stuffed up my nose, something that never happened when I was still an American.  This is the first reason I know I’m Guyanese.

2.  You have a thirst for Coke like all the time

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When I first came to Guyana, Coke tasted amazing.  It was offered frequently, and I accepted it, because sweating all day meant I lost precious sugars and needed to replenish.  But still, I was cautious.  I’ve read the bad press about Coke, and I believe it all.  High in sugar, corrosive to teeth, bad bad bad.  So I monitored my intake and tried to avoid Coke.  Soon,  I was back at the bottle shamelessly drinking it like it was water, while marveling at how in some places it actually is cheaper than water.  Most of us Guyanese drink coke at meals and in the afternoon, and just about any time we feel like it.  I don’t even think about the nutrition facts anymore and that’s another reason  I know I am Guyanese.

3.  You switch “I” and “me”

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Me know when me supposed to use the word “I.”  But me don’t always talk like me know me should.  Whenever I and me Guyanese friends is talking, they make it so difficult for I to phrase things correctly.  So me just give up and as long everyone understand I, me don’ got no problem.

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4.  You’re overcome with fatigue at 12:30 in the afternoon

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In other parts of the world, 12:30 is a time to finish lunch or power walk or make dentist appointments.  But if you’re Guyanese, like I am, 12:30 is the hottest part of the day and your body knows it.  It begins to shut down like an overheated hard drive, and you’re powerless against it.  All you can really do is head for a hammock or another soft place in the shade and succumb to the refreshing, needed afternoon siesta that overtakes you.

5.  You are impelled to call your friend’s name every time you pass their house

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I know it seems strange.  In my former country, I wouldn’t think of passing my friend’s home – at any part of the day – and yelling their name.  Even if they were home, they might be busy. Or sleeping.  Or in their pajamas, wishing to remain undisturbed.  Well you Americans have it your way, but we Guyanese just have to announce our presence when we pass a friend or an auntie’s house.  It’s impolite to just walk by without saying anything.  Besides, maybe they have a cold glass of coke just waiting to be shared with whoever passes by.

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6. You are completely repelled by 4-legged animals you used to find adorable

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Dogs used to be cute.  They used to exude love and friendship.  I’ve seen the You Tube videos of dogs dialing 911 or alerting fireman to a trapped child in a burning building.  However, now that I am Guyanese, I have an entirely different perspective on dogs.

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Dogs, I’m afraid, are a problem.  Flea infested and covered in sores, they are not only a sorry sight to behold but also a definite obstacle to sleeping at night, since they  howl and bark from dusk till dawn.  When they’re not threatening you with rabies or defecating on your front steps, they are sizing up others of their canine kind, barking and gnashing their teeth to see who the alpha-male is while you try to call your Grandmother 3000 miles away.  Dogs know better than to bark when you’re blasting music or cleaning your house, they wait until you sit down with a good book or throw down in the hammock for some sleep before they start the Barkfest.  I used to think dogs were pretty cool, but now that I’m Guyanese, I daily think about exterminating them.

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So there you have it, 6 reasons I know I’m Guyanese.  Not that only 6 reasons exist.  I’m sure there are many many  other hints and awakenings that indicate naturalization and status as an ex-expat.  I’d love to list more but I have to go out and get a coke, and yell outside my friend’s house on the way. ♥

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The Cast of Bartica

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If you’re wondering if I know this man, I do not.  He was one of Amber’s many admirers when she came to Bartica this past March.  We were walking down a busy central shop-lined street called the arcade when he appeared to congratulate Amber on her complexion and height.

The Nameless Admirer captured in this candid is but one of many Lil’ Wayne look-alikes in Bartica.  You might be surprised to know that, although Bartica is virtually an island nestled in the center of a vast river, 50 miles away from any major towns, and so remote that it only started broadcasting television (with 2 channels)  in the 1980′s, the inhabitants herein boast some pretty metropolitan style.

So I thought I’d introduce you – via photo – to some of the characters I see often. I like to think of them as actors in a play that is performed 365 days a year here on the streets of Bartica.  I don’t know all of their names – some are supporting cast members and others have leading roles – however,  in Guyana it’s perfectly acceptable to nickname someone based on their dominant physical trait.  Thus, you can call an older woman Granny, an overweight man Fat Man, and a man with dreadlocks and Jamaican flag insignia Rasta Man.  All of these people are content with generic pseudonyms.

So allow me to present to you…the Cast of Bartica!

Read more…

Trip To Lethem

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I love Lethem.  I’ve been there once before and was immediately attached.  It’s topography is completely unike Bartica’s, or the rest of Guyana’s for that matter. Guyana, thickly jungular and rain-forested, is lush and green until you get to Lethem, at which point you feel like you’re on the grassy plains of Africa.

Not that I’ve been to the grassy plains of Africa. Just sayin’.

To get to Lethem, you can either fly or take a bus, the latter of which is the cheaper option.  However, if you’re not interested in arriving to Lethem covered in streaks of brownish red dirt, I recommend the plane.

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On the border between Guyana and Brazil, the bus ride to Lethem is a tumultuous 14-20 hour trip, depending on the condition of the road.  The road (note: singular) is one long, corrugated stretch from Georgetown, through the interior and ’round a few mountain ranges as you get closer to the border.  Although Lethem is only about 250 miles from Georgetown,  the washboard dirt road makes the trip a long one.

Lethem is a quiet place with several Amerindian villages surrounding it.  Most of these villages are made up of Macushi Amerindian tribes that live in traditional palm-thatched homes like this one:

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The surrounding village is made up of similarly styled homes…

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…and all around these homes/shelters is broad and open savannah, flanked by the Kanuku mountains.

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We took a day long excursion to one of these villages called Moco Moco. It was about a half hour taxi ride from Lethem to Moco Moco, and when we arrived there we met our guide & spiritual brother, Alton Primus.

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How can I describe Alton?  He is like the village whisperer.  Dressed in long boots and equipped with a machete, Alton met us at the base of Moco Moco falls. Immediately after we began our tour, it became apparent that Alton was as much a part of the scenery as the trees and rocks were.  He guided us by hand across a log that led to a trail that he himself maintained, and as he led us along I realized that he was caretaker of most of the area.  He knew every plant and leaf, and cleared overgrown brush from our path with his machete.  At one point, I was steps behind Alton as we descended the mountain. It was a steep decline and I lost my footing, sliding a few feet until I  grabbed hold of a slender tree which saved me from a fall.  Hearing me skid, Alton quickly turned around.  After making sure I was secure, he motioned to the tree I was clinging to and said, “That is why I let that one remain.”

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Mountain Flora

The waterfalls are best captured with the naked eye.  They were so fresh and frigid that I got the sniffles a few days later, a sure sign that I’m fully Guyanese now (the locals always claim to get sick after being exposed to “cold” water).  Alton led us to a lagoon where the waters pooled and were so deep I couldn’t find the bottom.  Alton of course knew the lagoon and every inch of the surrounding rock formations.

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It was a touch euphoric to find footholds and climb onto the rocks and then repeatedly jump off of them into the lagoon.  But Alton had everyone beat, diving off the rocks and swimming through crevices that led to underwater caves.

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After our hike/swim/jumpfest we were thirsty, but Alton had us covered with sweet-as-ever coconuts.  Another opportunity to brandish the machete!

The adventure at Moco Moco falls was invigorating, and equally invigorating was meeting the local congregation in Lethem.  I loved talking with Paula, a local Amerindian woman who has just begun attending meetings…

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…and Zelia, a sister from Brazil who recently moved to Lethem.  Zelia was so helpful and hospitable to us throughout our stay. :)

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And it was great to meet Jared, a brother from the US who had spent the past 8 years on the Disaster Relief Committee working in New Orleans and the southern states.  He’s been in Lethem since 2013.

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We had so much fun with Jared that we decided to bring him back to Bartica with us for awhile!

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Our time in Lethem was wonderful.  We flew back to Georgetown in a little Cessna to spare ourselves the vomit-inducing, dust-in-your-nasal-passage bus ride.

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Looking forward to our next visit to Lethem! ♥

Guyanese Plait Bread

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In Guyana, weaving three strands of your hair together is not called a braid, it’s called a plait (pronounced like “flat” with a p).  The huge ropes that keep speedboats and ships from drifting away are not braided, they are plaited.  And when you bake a fresh loaf of bread that’s woven together, it’s called Plait Bread.

Plait Bread not only looks impressive, it tastes divine. Soft and fluffy, it is best served right out of the oven. Since it’s fresh, it only lasts about a day but that’s ok, because it gets devoured almost instantly.

I am not a food blogger, but sometimes, when I’m in my kitchen for 5+ hours a day, mincing garlic or chopping chicken (whole chicken, that is – bones and all!) I get this false sense self-confidence and start to feel like I could be a food blogger.  I think, “Wow, this curry turned out pretty good! I should post the recipe!”

And then, inevitably, I burn something, or overcook something, or slice a hot chilli pepper with bare hands and burn my fingers (true story).  And I then I think…

Better not.

But I have deep love for food bloggers.  The food blogs I’ve folllowed over the past few years have taught me so much when it comes to cooking, baking and stewing.  In addition to the tricks I’ve learned from the locals here (like grating garlic with a cheese grater instead of chopping it into tiny pieces – genius!), my virtual food blogger friends have given me what probably amounts to a year of free culinary school, all via their blogs.

This recipe for Plait Bread is from a food blogger I ♥ named Jehan.  She’s originally from Guyana and now lives in the states, but thankfully, she has not left her Guyo-Carribean heritage in the tropics; she has compiled some of her awesome Guyanese recipes on her blog,  jehancancook.  I love this blog and reference it frequently!  The recipe that I’m posting today is from Jehan.

 

Read more…

Publisher Profile: Rawl

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Rawl and his newborn son Joshua are the cover models for this edition of Publisher Profile!

Publisher Profile is a series on this blog whereby a member of the congregation is interviewed and photos of them “in action”  are featured – it’s basically a virtual high-five  and spotlight on them for their great work and example.  You may have read about Angie from the début installment of Publisher Profile – today Rawl takes center stage!

Rawl has been a part of our congregation since 2012 (and Joshua since birth in April 2014).  In August of 2013, both Rawl and his wife Samantha were baptized. Even before that, though, Rawl had been an integral part of the congregation.  He customarily arrived early to meetings, greeted everyone with a smile, and put his impressive height to good use by removing dust and bug carcasses from lofty and hard-to-reach corners of the hall. I sat down with Rawl recently to talk to him about the past few years.  Here’s the interview:

Read more…

Love is in the Air!

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Do you cry at weddings?  If not, you might have cried at this one.

Saturday, August 23rd Olivia & David were married!  This wedding was an honor to attend, for two reasons.  First, because Olivia is one of the most beautiful people you’ll ever meet, and her hubby David is a gem too.  Second, this wedding was the first of its kind in Bartica!

There are only 37 in our small congregation.  Of these, many were married in a legal civil ceremony, or married before becoming witnesses.  The rest are teenagers and babies, and therefore single (thank god). Thus, many in our congregation had never attended a witness wedding before. So to assemble in our new Kingdom Hall, hear a Bible based talk, and share in the celebration with David & Olivia was a privilege, and one I know I’ll remember for years to come!

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One of the things I love most about weddings is oooh-ing and ahh-ing over whatever bouquets and artistic floral arrangements the bride has chosen.  However, fresh flowers are woefully difficult to come by here in Bartica.  It’s nearly impossible to find anything other than artificial flowers for weddings, funerals, home decor, etc.  Since Isabella and I are unanimous in our adoration for the real thing, Olivia gave us the go-ahead to create a tropical bouquet for her.  We went to a local green house about two miles away from our place and scouted out some options.  Thanks to Isabella’s eye for floral design, this above photo is what we came up with.

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Wannabe Florists.

Wannabe Florists.

The ceremony took place at 2:00 in the afternoon.  Vows and rings were exchanged along with dozens of hugs afterward, and Roman gave the talk.

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Olivia & her Mom, Shoba

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David, Olivia and David’s mom Joy

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Christiano, dressed to impress! I love his wind-blown, hair-gelled look!

After the ceremony, we headed to Joy’s house for a reception. We dined on the traditional faves – Curry, Chow Mein, Fried Rice, and Cookup – and one of Joy’s bible student’s made a spectacular cake.

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So happy to have shared in the love and joy of this special day!

♥♥♥

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