When the days are slow to pass and the weeks fly by time seems to be in a surreal vortex that skews my reality. One day quickly becomes one week, which in turn is a month, but at the same it feels like just yesterday I was getting off the mini bus in Linden wondering what tomorrow would hold. It hasn’t been perfect, life never is. I have had my moments of tears and frustration (often taking it out on the evil mosquitoes of Guyana), but I have also had those moments of perfect contentment where if I could freeze time I would stay there a little longer to absorb it all.
I recently bought a bike, after pondering between the red plastic one, the silver used one, and the rusty blue one – I settled for the silver one. Excited to finely ride through the streets of Linden exploring, having a cool breeze, and just enjoy moving. I have enjoyed many sunset rides throughout Linden, that always end with me in a sweat, but that is quickly relieved by my ice cold shower. I wish I could freeze the moment of me gliding down the dirt road next to the Demerara River, coconut trees lining the way, the sun setting behind the hills, with its last bits of light kissing the water, and a cool breeze passing over my face.
The last couple weeks at the hospital have had their productive moments, and then some not so productive moments. I struggle some days just to get to know people and remember their names, these days I want to lock myself in an office and hide. But then there are those exciting days, those days when simple skills like holding and feeding a baby, go endlessly thanked, or a conversation creates a new connection and idea that neither of you had thought of. Those great days where you can’t help but smile because patients actually listened to you when you talked about nutrition, or a little girl came over to you in the Peds Ward and asked if she could borrow a book from the bookshelf you are organizing books on. It is those simple moments that you don’t expect and aren’t looking for that sometimes become the most memorable and make the not so great moments fade away.
Last weekend I made my Guyanese TV debut on the local TV show “Health Watch.” It is a health show sponsored by the Region 10 Health Department. The volunteer here before me was the host, I showed an interest in it, which meant I was the new host. It was a rough start to getting our first episode recorded. The producer scheduled a time to record, but forgot to tell me about it. Then we all found a time we could record, but the doctor’s wife who we were interviewing had to go have a baby. Third time is the charm right? We get one last final date to try and record an interview do a demonstration and get a few interesting shots, but it can’t be that easy. Where is the fun in that? I get a phone call as I sit in the hospital’s Accident and Emergency department “observing” (my current job activity), but this was one of my not so great days when I wish I locked myself in an office, but I forced myself to go be social. It was my producer, he wanted to push the recording up to today. Today the day I overslept, the day I didn’t shower, the day I didn’t put on makeup, the day I struggled to find semi-clean clothes that could remotely be considered matching, of course today. I drag myself to the waiting room clutching my cup of coffee knowing this is my only saving grace to be pleasant, except my coffee stash was getting low so I made a weak cup thinking I could have a mellow day. The producer shows up and laughs, sparing me no sympathy,” You look half dead.” I tell him to give me a minute, smile and chug the coffee. We sit down in a room with Doc and two nurses and start the interview. They are nervous, I am falling asleep in my chair, we are site. But then the producer gives me the countdown, the red light of the camera goes on, and suddenly I am cheerful, full of life, and attentively listening to my interviewees. To freeze that moment of when I went from wanting to crawl into a dark hole, to happy cheerful Ren, to see the reaction of the producer’s face… The next week I was greeted with smiles and compliments on how great I was as the new host, and how they looked forward to future episodes, if only the knew.
You think the above would be enough to keep me content, but no life gets far more exciting in Guyana, especially on days you get packages from home. I have to go the post office to pick up my package. I had received the slip on a Thursday saying I could pick it up Monday at 10:30 am. I know the goodies that are inside awaiting me, and the anticipation builds. Monday is finally here I wait an hour in the post office for the customs officer to come, he does. He hauls my 30 lbs package off the shelf, slices it open, and sifts through the contents, after seeing nothing of value, he has me pay a small fee. I walk down the middle of the road, with a smile ear to ear, beads of sweat rolling down my face as I make the quarter of a mile trek back the house with my big box. A few stops along the way to adjust the box, one final ascent up the stairs to my flat, and yes I set the box down on the kitchen table, slicing it open. The best way to explain this moment is imagining a five-year-old at Christmas not knowing what present to open first. Enthralled by the excitement of it all, it becomes a free or all. I pull out clothes, chocolate, coffee, a Kindle, granola bars, peanut butter, giddy and exhausted I collapse on my couch Oreos in hand from the package and inhale them. Freeze this moment, me lying on the couch, chocolate smudged around my mouth, big smile…
The moments and adventures in Guyana are abundant. I could go on about what I have been up to, the people I have met, the sites I have seen, the fun we have had so far. But those are all stories for another post, and another day. And maybe one of these days too I will post what I actually do down here…though I am still trying to figure that out. Just know I am alive and well in Guyana, lost in lazy afternoons in hammocks, busy days on the hospital wards, and starting my career as a TV health reporter, enjoying the time as it goes by.