After about three months VSO arranged a Forum for all of the volunteers in a conference centre in region 3 – The Toucan Inn and Guyana Heritage Museum. We had the Friday off and went by a private hire bus (clean, comfortable, spacious and no music!). It was a really good weekend in that all the VSOs were able to meet up, it was well prepared (thanks to Ann and Hannah) and offered a varied programme. We were given a breakdown of everything that was going on, a question and answer session (which I led) and spent the afternoon discussing issues in our various groups – Education and Disability. At the end we had a wind down session when everyone was asked to write down something from their past – perhaps a secret, controversial or downright shocking. In teams we had to match the item with the person – quite a difficult task as VSOs on the whole are sensible and law-abiding. Secrets included being locked in the slammer for stealing Christmas trees, throwing a puppy over a wall, being jailed for being a political activist and meeting Nelson Mandela. It was great fun!
But, the social bit was the best. The food was delicious and varied including individual omelettes at breakfast. In the evening, much rum and coke was consumed and late at night we all went up to the parapet in the pitch black and observed the stars and the satellites as they passed above us. The VSO group is great, sociable and from varied backgrounds and countries. It makes the experience so much the richer.
The accommodation was excellent – unusual, quirky with masses of interesting bits of Guyanese history all over the place. It doubled as a museum and the owner, a Portuguese Guyanese was a bit of a historian. He was very proud of his achievements and wanted to show us around. The room had its own facilities – a luxury here!
We went home the next day after a hearty breakfast and a relaxing morning reading the paper. Mary and Meg were desperate to get the Cup Final on TV but were unsuccessful. They later discovered that they had the wrong week. Others swam in the pool – quite a luxury.