I have some announcements:
It has been nearly a month since my one-and-only phone call back to the US. Here is why:
1) Staff works us HARD during training and we don't have much free time to ourselves. The little time that we do have is spent with our host families or with ourselves as we try to integrate into our communities.
2) Calling the States on a phone card is expensive.
3) Internet is costly at the cafes, so I can't get on as much as I'd like to.
4) I don't want to buy a cell phone, yet, because I may be placed somewhere where there is no cell reception, or in an area where there is reception with only one of the two cellular companies. Cell phones are cheap compared to the US, but costly on our pitiful Peace Corps allowance.
Skype. If you have skype and want to buy "skype credit", you can call cell phones in Guyana and it is extremely cheap and any incoming phone calls are not charged to Guyanese cell phones or LAN lines. If you would like to speak with me, we can set up a time for you to call me on one of my fellow trainee's cell phones.
What you will need:
A computer with a microphone attached or a mic connected
Skype (go to www.skype.com, download and register. It is all free)
Skype credit (purchasable in $10 amounts I believe)
A cell phone number to call (email me)
I really miss talking to everyone and I'd love to be able to call each and every one of you, but my limited free time and the expense of communication makes it difficult. Furthermore, I may be placed somewhere remote, which means letters would be my main communication (Sorry mom). Friends, please don't forget about me.
These reasons are also why you are seeing me post handfuls of blogs all at once. I borrow trainee's laptops and write blog after blog (or transpose from my journal), store them on my thumb drive, and then post when I have internet time. It's frustrating because I get so excited to tell you about every little thing I experience, and then realize I can't just hop on Gmail like I use to at home.
Anyway, communication (or lack thereof) is a bitch. Please be patient because talking on the phone may be a rarity, and with a rare few.
A bit about mail and packages:
If you plan on sending a package to Guyana, please include a packing list for our PC officer, Glendon Stewart. Glendon is responsible for picking up mail and getting it to us volunteers in the field. If you have a packing list with your package, then he can make sure that everything you sent showed up. You can even give a little shout out to Glendon if you like, he is a swell guy.
I don't know what shipping rates are from the US to Georgetown (probably weight specific), but I would assume things in soft packs would fall on the cheaper side of things. Also, Guyana charges taxes on all electronic items. These charges will be forwarded to me, so please keep this in mind if you plan to send something electronic.
Non-taxable items include pretty much anything that isn't considered an electronic device or piece of electronics.
Books, clothes, snacks, magazines, photos, etc., are not taxed.
Computers are also NOT taxed. It is definitely possible that I will try to buy a laptop IF I get placed in a site that has electricity.
Mail and care packages are a Peace Corps greatest motivator (well, maybe not the greatest, but it reaches pretty high)