Over the river and through the waves…

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Slapping against the waves of the Essequibo River, our overcrowded wooden boat – which rose just inches above the water – made its way across the current and over to the other side. Our group of about 15 left Bartica’s shores in search of new pastures.

The village across the river (referred to as Goshen) is a (roughly) 3 mile shoreline stretch directly across from Bartica. It’s made up of simple wooden houses and large concrete duplexes with satellite dishes.  For a settlement that depends completely on Bartica (which is no more than a settlement that depends completely on Georgetown) the locals live pretty large.  The ubiquitous Celine Dion blasted from some very-expensive sounding speakers while locals vroomed past us on mini-motorbikes.  It smacked of development, in stark contrast to the last time I was there, when everyone was on foot and humming and bathing in the river. Although everyone was still bathing in the river. We saw.

Living on Bartica can sometimes give us a little Island Fever, and Samantha was especially happy to disembark and greet Goshen with open arms.

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We partnered up and set off on the trail, Angie and Sholanna held up the rear to protect us from any stalking Jaguars.

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I would be remiss to avoid sharing the new and interesting flora and fauna I was confronted with while in Goshen.  I found this thing near the beach.  It looked like a compact pine cone that had been painted red, and was about as dense as a tennis ball. Weird.

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Samantha and Rawl told me to take a bit out of this ruby-red specimen, which I did and immediately regretted. It was coarse and unsweet and sucked all of the moisture out of my mouth like a cotton ball. Can you see the indentations where my teeth scraped its flesh? Sooooo unenjoyable.

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Treanna obeyed orders to stand and smile and point at the prickly pineapple bush!  I’ve seen these all over Guyana; they never cease to interest and intimidate me.

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And JoAnna coaxed this brilliant yellow insect onto her thumb, which earned her the new title of Butterfly Whisperer.

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But it wasn’t all hiking and fruit-tasting, we did actually talk to people.  Here Angie showed Psalm 83:18 to a sweet little girl who followed Angie’s finger on the page and read along.

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Floyd and his partner worked together and got along swimmingly…

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And Rollissa spoke at several doors with her own prepared presentation. She was totally irresistible.  One boy we talked to asked us where our meetings were held and when we told him said he knew exactly where the hall was.  Many people in Goshen come to Bartica to shop and resupply, and some occasionally attend our meetings. Everyone accepted magazines, and one woman said she loved reading them and hadn’t received any recently, so she was happy to take a small stack.

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Our adventures over the river are always such a highlight, I know it won’t be long before a packed-to-the-bow boatload of us goes back to revisit!20150410_104255

Floral Sorrel

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I am no Botanist, but I love flowers and herbs, and that is why the first time I saw Sorrel it was love at first sight.

I was in Georgetown combing the aisles of Guyana’s famous Stabroek Market when my eyes were drawn as if by instinct to a spongy crimson cluster of Sorrel buds.

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The Sorrel plant is a species of Hibiscus and has several uses, but its petals are most often used to make Sorrel Juice. The juice is sweet and berry-like, almost like Hibiscus Tea, but the cinnamon, clove and nutmeg give it an earthy flavor all its own. YestedayI brewed a pot, cooled it overnight, and served it this afternoon. Recipe is below!

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Sorrel Juice

 

About 2 C Sorrel, dried or fresh

1/2 T Cinnamon

1/2 T Nutmeg

1/2 T Cloves

6 C water

2 C Sugar

Rinse Sorrel thoroughly. Bring Sorrel and water to a boil and add cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour juice through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher and add sugar. Stir thoroughly.  Chill for 2 hours and serve with ice.

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Love Will Return Video

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Whirling through the jungle in full makeup and a bohemian dress is simply the only way to live!   If you haven’t tried it, you simply must.  Or you can just click here to see the video “Love Will Return.”

Mango Sour Power

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If there’s anything I would love to bottle and import to the states and sell it in every grocery store across America, it would be hot, tropical weather.

But since I have not yet found a way to do that  – Mango Sour would be my next choice.

The preferred condiment to pour over plantain chips, chicken foot (a fried Guyanese snack) and pholourie (a fried Indian snack), Mango Sour is the spicy snack-time garnish that glazes and “sours” your between-meal bites to perfection.

However – sour (named because it’s made from unripened “sour” mangos) can get very spicy, and you can even spoil your lip! (I advise reading the hyperlinked blog post before attempting sour at home.)

Every time we eat something topped with sour, Roman says, “We have to find a way to bottle this and bring it to the States.”

Well, I don’t know about Sour’s shelf life, since it’s always made fresh, but it is so ridiculously simple to create that you won’t need us to import it for you!

So here is the recipe for sour, so you all can make it at home and save us from opening our own Sour Shipping Co.

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Ingredients:

2 green (unripe) mangos

1 wiri wiri pepper (or any hot pepper)

1 C water

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 tsp cumin

Salt to taste

Combine mangos (peeled first) with 1/2 C water and heat over a medium-high flame in a small saucepan.  The mango will seperate from its pit as it heats up, and you can gently pull apart the flesh with a fork.  Blend onions, garlic, pepper, and other 1/2 C water in a blender and add to the hot mango mixture.  Add cumin and salt.  You’ll know it’s finished when you have a golden, syrupy relish with tiny red flecks in it like this!

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Once cooled, you can remove the mango pits and use Sour on salty things like chips.  It’s best on plantain chips or pholourie, if you’re able to get your hands on such delicacies.  This recipe will yield about about 2-3 Cups of sour, which will last in the fridge for about a week.

Coffee with Tais

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Yesterday morning I was delighted to have a cup of coffee with my youngest coffee-drinking friend to date: Taís.

Taís is a 5-year-old little girl from Brazil that my student Naza (also from Brazil) looks after.  Taís is precocious and outgoing and the perfect grammatical assistant for me, since she helps me with my vocabulary and giggles openly when I mispronounce a Portuguese word.

Naza has been studying twice a week since November and is a beautiful soul – not just because she makes me cake and gives me coffee – but because she loves her study and prepares well.  She’s such a mild & kind person, and today when I invited her to the hall, I said, “I would love it if you came, even though the meeting is in English.” And she said, “I will come!  I can observe and listen.”

After coffee, Taís gave me the go-ahead to take her tablet and put some Caleb & Sofia videos on it for her.  So that was my chore for the day yesterday, and I will report back to Taís today!  I hope she’s ready for another cup of joe, pinkies up! ♥

 

Affordable Housing in Guyana

One of the first things you think about when considering a move to a foreign country is, “What kind of housing is available? What are the average costs?  What are floor plans like?  Are walk-in closets strictly an American concept or can I expect that in my ex-pat beach bungalow?”  For this reason, I thought it would be nice to compile a brief photo-tour of some of the properties available around Bartica.  Keep in mind it’s a buyer’s market and these properties are hot so there is no guarantee they’ll be available for long!

1. Gardener’s Retreat

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This single family, 0 bed/0 bath dwelling boasts superb landscaping.  Corrugated Zinc roofing is not only energy-efficient but also attracts lightning and hosts an orchestra of deafening rainfall during thunderstorms.

2. Handyman’s Haven

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 Dutch Colonial with traditional wood shutters. Pigeon accessible. Fenced-in yard. Renovator’s dream!

3. Earth-lover’s Enclave

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Tucked-away cottage with old-world charm! Property is along a quaint and potholed road and nearby junkyards, cow pastures, and rum shops that play music all night long!  Within walking distance of old abandoned vehicles and rusted shrapnel. Location, location, location!

4. Open-Concept for the Open-Minded

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This breeze-friendly, open-concept is window-negotiable and available today!  Rests haphazardly on a series of eroded cylinder blocks. Don’t let this one collapse suddenly  get away from you!

5. Stargazer’s Serenity

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Enviable water-front fixer-upper with great potential for multiple skylights!  Gaze up at star-filled skies from this mostly termite-free beachfront abode!

6. Move-in Ready for the Low-Maintenance Buyer

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Semi-furnished, renovation-ready first-floor walk-up with unlimited potential!  Internet, electric and plumbing unready. Could make an excellent starter home, room for expansion!

7. Artsy Split-Level

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Wood/cement duplex with contemporary finish.  Jigsaw inlaid brick siding with decorative concrete accents.  Consider adding paint or mortar or more bricks to update this cozy, sure-to-impress two-story.

8. Project House for the Outdoor Enthusiast

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Near-complete single-story is ceiling optional and design-vague. Consider adding flooring, door frames, doors or say the heck with all that and draw your own blueprint!

9. Ex-Convict’s Hideaway

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Privacy-conscious buyers will love this foliage-rich unit with authentic tool-shed feel. Appealing aesthetic for the criminal and/or nature lover.  Have a green thumb?  Consider adding nearby manure to this invasive and aggressive climbing weed!

10. Contractor’s Nightmare

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Visionary architects, this partially moldy foundation was laid within the decade and stands ready to support your ideal framework!  Section off a living room and master bath or divide into a series of closets.  Possible option for commercial venture.

11. For the Undecided

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This abandoned lot is a local treasure.  Envision your dream home on .6 acres of swampy marsh, dotted with moss-covered truck engines and tossed-aside car doors with vinyl intact.

I know you’re thinking, “Ok these are awesome, but where are the prices?”  Well that’s the really great part.  Each of these houses is not only available but also affordable!  If any of these properties interest you, please send me an email and I will direct you to an appropriate sales rep.  But please, serious buyers only. ♥

Don’t Spoil Ya Lip

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Once upon a not-so-very-long-time ago, Isabella and I were shopping in the market when we stumbled upon one of her most favorite snacks: ginnip.  Ginnip (prounounced GIN-ip, with a hard G) is a small fruit encased in a thin outer skin.

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To access the sweet and fleshy seed inside, you have to gently bite the exterior to break open the skin.  Ginnip’s outer layer is impressive; it always splits in half evenly when you bite it!  Isabella asked the Ginnip salesman for a sample (we’d had a few under-ripe bundles of it in the recent past), which he offered willingly, but before she could bite into it he took it back from her and rubbed it on his shirt and explained:

“So ya don’t spoil ya lip.”

His shirt-rubbing technique was his way of “cleaning” the Ginnip before Isabella put her pretty little lips to the skin.

How sweet.

Well, Isabella and I thought that was just the funniest expression and we kept repeating it over and over. “Watch out, don’t spoil ya lip! Hahaha!”  What a hilarious arrangement of words to repeat incessantly.

Fast forward to a few days later. Isabella and I are returning home from a study and we spy a woman selling Chicken Foot, a local snack that is not actually chicken feet but looks like them.

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Chicken Foot (left) and Plantain Chips.

Well Isabella just so happens to love Chicken Foot so she bought a bag and asked for plenty of sour (Mango sour is a delicious condiment – made from mangos and hot wiri wiri pepper – that heightens the flavor of almost any snack, especially plantain chips and chicken foot).

“Sure you wan’ plenty sour?” the woman asked Isabella.  “It’s hot ya know,” she warned.  Sour varies depending on who makes it, and this woman cautioned that hers was spicy.

“No problem, I love sour!” Isabella said, not knowing that in a few short moments, she would regret those very words.

The woman poured on the sour and we were off, Isabella munching on chicken foot and me on a mission to find coconut water.  We made our way to the market and Isabella said, “Wow – this sour is actually really spicy!”

We bought coconuts and took tourist-y pictures of the woman cutting them open for us, since she wielded her machete like a boss.  And then, as we made our way back home, Isabella said, “I feel like my upper lip is burning from this sour.”

I looked, and sure enough: Isabella had a bright red moustache, a streak of ruby-red painted across her upper lip.

Isabella had spoiled her lip!

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Now, I don’t want any of you reading this to feel wary.  I know you’re looking at Isabella’s upper-lip pigmentation and thinking, “Oh no – couldn’t do it.  Sour sounds way to risky.” But trust me, mango sour is one of Guyana’s great culinary gifts and even if it is a little spicy sometimes, it’s worth spoiling your lip for.

Isabella’s lip eventually returned to normal without needing a skin graft or having to leave her lip in the freezer for awhile.  And it wasn’t long before she was back to her chicken foot ways, plenty of sour and all.

Check back soon for the recipe so you can create your very own Mango Sour – and maybe even spoil your own lip! ♥

 

 

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