Trip To Lethem

20140923_093520

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.

20140923_123702

20140923_123712

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:

20140926_102823

The surrounding village is made up of similarly styled homes…

20140926_102758

20140926_102805

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

20140926_102709

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.

20140926_110121

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.”

20140926_125846

20140926_130153

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.

20140926_111027

20140926_111034

20140926_111031

20140926_122200

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.

20140926_134244

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…

20140925_174019

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

20140925_174055

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.

20140928_121854

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

20141003_093922

20141008_084342

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.

20140929_150015

20140929_145937

Looking forward to our next visit to Lethem! ♥

Guyanese Plait Bread

20140918_134750

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

IMG_4686

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!

20140823_152534

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!

SC20140824-141208-1

 

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.

IMG_20140824_020352

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.

20140823_145537

20140823_145728

 

20140823_141300

 

IMG_20140823_103130

Olivia & her Mom, Shoba

20140823_141023

David, Olivia and David’s mom Joy

IMG_20140823_095819

20140823_151430

20140823_141923

 

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.

20140823_184253

 

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

♥♥♥

IMG_20140823_100616

 

 

Voyage to Itabali

20140820_113440

I’ve often heard of a small riverside village approximately 15 minutes away – via boat – from Bartica.

We traveled here this past Wednesday, much to everyone’s delight, filling two speedboats and combing through one river to get to the next.  Destination: Itabali!

Read more…

An AtTRACTive Campaign

20140813_091503

Mid-way through the campaign and our congregation has been having a ball out in service!  A record-breaking TEN auxiliary pioneers and FIVE regular pioneers – an honorary 2 currently “outside” – have thus far made August a historical month for Bartica!  These stats are impressive because Bartica is just a little, tiny congregation of 37 publishers.  We are small but mighty. ♥

20140812_100408

Angie, Vivica, and Latoya – 3 of our auxiliary pioneers for August!

 

It’s been great to traverse the outlying areas of Bartica, where it’s very possible we’ll cross paths with a large Orangutan or Puma.

20140812_101623

Anything could be in these bushes.

 

Ok we have like 0% chance of seeing anything like that.  But onward we press!

20140812_091351

We are so not afraid of large Orangutans or Pumas! Just malaria.

 

Olivia knows how to Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

Olivia knows how to Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of working with Shoba, a wonderful sister in our hall who has lived in Bartica for ages and knows just about everyone.  Here she places a tract with a neighbor in central Bartica…

20140813_092813

 

20140813_092817

…which he gladly receives!

We love working shoulder to shoulder with all of you during this month-long campaign!  ♥

20140812_091401

20140812_091314

Plantain Poor-idge

20140710_102738

I only recently learned the beauty of Plantain Porridge.  So easy to make – and so cheap!

Plantain Porridge is eaten by adults and children alike, but it’s really the babes that eat it most. From infancy, little ones drink it from their bottles like their American counterparts drink formula. Since plantains are a staple and very cheap (about .60/lb), it’s a common way for families to feed their babies.  And seeing that it’s a dense and filling meal, high in calories and carbs, it’s no surprise that infants here are plump butterballs;  indeed, Guyana is full of giant babies, and plantain porridge is the likely culprit.

He’s Hungry.

When Amber was visiting, she learned the recipe for plantain porridge and created a magnificent pot of it for all of us one day.  It’s gluten-free, organic, local & simple and thus earned a regular place in our breakfast rotation.  Best of all, it’s a supercheap breakfast, since you really only need 1 plantain to yield a decent pot. Plantain Poor-idge: it’s the go-to meal when you’re poor.

Plantain Porridge

Yield: 4 servings

1 large green (unripe) plantain

1 1/2 C water

3 T Sugar

1/2 t Vanilla

1/2 T Butter

Directions:

Heat 3/4 C water in a small pot on the stove.  Peel the skin off of the plantain and cut into 4 or 5 small pieces.  Add to blender along with 3/4 C water.  Blend for about 45 seconds or until you have a nice purée.  Add blended plantain to hot water and stir.  The porridge will thicken.  Add butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top and serve. ♥

20140710_084233

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers