It's always exciting when the new volunteers arrive to take the places of those who have left. This group were no exception. Mary and I were asked if we would meet some of them in the airport. We agreed and got to Georgetown airport about 10pm to meet Nicolette and Martin. The only problem was that VSO didn't give us any more details than their names. We didn't know flight numbers, times or even which part of the world they were coming from. We sort of guessed UK, Australia, Uk or Canada but that's a large area. The clue was in the names.
There were two possibilities of planes they could have been on. One had been cancelled and the other a little late. But out came the pasengers and no Nicolette and Martin. At 11-30pm we were told there was another flight coming in at 12-15am so we waited but no Nicolette and Martin. We felt such fools when we asked officials and they asked for the details and we couldn't tell them. And we were wearing our new VSO T shirts and had made a small welcome banner.
On the left is Leena, our Education Programme Manager and on the right is Arlene, our Country Director
Eventually, thanks to Caribbean Star we found out that they had been held up in Port of Spain and would be coming the next morning. By the way, they were from just outside of Toronto, Canada and had emigrated there from the UK in the seventies.
We went to the Rima and 1-30pm and told them they wouldn't be coming and at 7am set off again for the airport. On the way there, we were told they had got a lift and so didn't need to go. Frustrated with an unused banner we went to work. Later in the day we heard that their lift had fallen through and they had to get a taxi. What a fiasco but they're here now and very nice people!
In fact ther're all nice - Nicolette, Martin, Hans (works in our office), Teddy, Nessa, Helen, Cecelia, Tessie, Janette, Camilla, Mira who is into her 10th year of volunteering.
We volunteered to do the in country orientation - "Living and working in Guyana". This involved going to Splashmins Creek for the weekend. It was a very large resort and we were practically the only ones there. Great news as the week before there had been 10,000 people there. We stayed in a luxury house by Guyana standards - AC and no nets as well as hot water and the biggest bed you ever did see. It was nice for us, having been here without luxury for a few months but we thought it a bit OTT for new volunteers who had only just come from home.
We prepared for our training session for 1 1/2 days with an all singing, all dancing PowerPoint presentation only to find that there was no electricity in this very up market auditorium. To this day no-one has seen the presentation. That's Guyana!
Madewini Gardens - a little more Guyanese than Splashmins
The next day we went to Madewini Gardens - another creek but this time less ostentatious and more Guyanese. We had a lovely meal there and a relaxing afternoon. However, we only got there by the strength of our muscles. We all had to push the bus!
The next Wednesday, Allende and I took the volunteers on the shopping tour. That's when you really find out what Guyana is like. I remember my eyes being out on stalks on that trip so we were keen to do it for the new volunteers.
A week later, Hans Neienhuijsen, a Dutch volunteer started in our office. The next day we deserted him to come to England for a month. And all that's history!!! He's turned out to be a good "drinking partner".