Edinburgh (one year on!)

Hello world from team Guyana!

It’s now been over a year since we returned from Guyana and the whole team has met up for our second official reunion (not including debrief!) in Edinburgh. After arriving late on Friday night and having a well deserved lie in this morning, we ate lunch in the park before taking a stroll part way up Arthur’s seat to enjoy the view 🙂

This evening we’ve enjoyed far too much take out food and wine and had a chance to hear all about Fiona’s GOLD trip to Cambodia over the summer, and we’ve also had the exciting news that Yolanda will be leading a GOLD project next summer! Team Guyana must be fast becoming one of the most successful in terms of subsequent GOLD leaders!

It’s been a hilarious evening with Heather bringing us a craft activity which required us to create a visual craft piece of our GOLD experience, out of doilies, stickers, stars and string! We all got creative and the end results were good fun.

Heather also brought along a bottle of creme rum liqueur from Guyana for us to enjoy, it’s travelled a long way and was much appreciated. What a way to end the evening and wind down with fantastic friends. We have set a date in the diary for the next meet up and here’s to the future 😀

Team Guyana over and out.


Hometime! 14th August

Yet another absurdly early start – and time for more crack of dawn last minute cleaning, before Samuel came to pick us up for one final (and unexpected!) time to take us to the airport! After a slightly stressful check in experience (of being handed forms from multiple directions, and told we’d accidentally skipped a whole queue: whoops!) we paid our departure tax (who knew you had to pay to leave a country? not me!) and headed through security to the departure lounge. We tried to spend the last of our Guyanese dollars (as there was nowhere to change money in the whole airport, and it’s a closed currency!) before it was time for us to leave!

Emily headed to Toronto via Trinidad on a Caribbean Airlines plane shortly before we left to fly to Miami with Surinam Airlines. The plane was still like something out of the 80’s, but a mild improvement on the Caribbean Airlines flight we’d arrived from New York on. Chaos unfolded as a plane full of people who spoke French, Dutch and English (the official languages of French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana respectively) were handed US border control forms in Spanish. Eventually we all managed to fill them in, just before landing in Miami. Emily had a 4 hour stop over in Trinidad but would soon be flying over us!

Then disaster struck! We’d found out only a week or so before that Fiona would be on a slightly later flight back to the UK, but as we transferred through Miami, we were sent our separate ways as our flights were with two different airlines. Luckily we managed to meet back up again after clearing security (Fiona two handbags heavier!) for some lovely non-airplane food.

Our plane was delayed (the grand total of two hours due to bad weather) so Fiona waited for us to board before our second emotional goodbye of the day; it’s still v odd not being a team of six! A very lengthy flight later we landed in Heathrow, before a mad dash across the airport to catch buses and trains home. Yolanda and Olivia made their buses, while I made most of my trains after being sent all over the airport by the transport people – but sadly missed my train up to Manchester, oops! We all made it home safe and sound; the end of our GOLD project, but the experience goes on!

We’ll try and keep the blog updated with what we get up to in future, including debrief which is only a few weeks away now! We also hope we’ll be able to update you on our continued links with the Guyanese Guide Association, and their progress! Finally, if anyone in Guiding aged 18-30 would like to follow in our footsteps and take part in GOLD for themselves, then there’s still a few places left at INTOPS this September! http://www.girlguiding.org.uk/seniorsection/whatcanido/international/intops.html


Lots of GOLD love

Clare xxxx


12th/13th Auugust – Onward travel!

After a very early start for some last minute packing and cleaning (who doesn’t love scrubbing a shower at 5am?!) we left for the airport to drop Heather off for her flight back to the UK. It was really sad to see her go; we’ve got so used to being a six recently that Emily poured six glasses of juice later that day, and I tried to deal six piles of Uno cards! Luckily she had a safe trip back to Heathrow, even if she did get rather carried away in an airport bookshop!


The remaining five of us set off for the Marina, to catch a speedboat to Arrowpoint nature resort. The journey was amazing, we wound further and further into the rainforest. The water was so still at some points it was hard to tell where the trees ended and water began, and we saw a sloth on the way! We visited ‘Santa Mission’, an Amerindian village, before we arrived, where we were greeted with amazing juice and bakes. We’re staying overnight in the cutest little wooden cabins, and after a brief orientation and introduction by Edward and Teddy (two of the staff) we were let loose to explore!



It was soon time to head off to see the rainforest up close. We walked deeper and deeper into the forest, stopping for Edward to tell us more about the plants and wildlife before the path wound back down to the river, and we kayaked back. Fiona and Olivia turned out to be a bit of a dream team. We arrived back to a delicious lunch of curry, rice, and pumpkin, with amazing juice and fresh fruit. After spending the afternoon napping off the early start, and enjoying the sun and lovely cool river water, it was time for dinner, served round a fire (as lit by Emily)! More delicious food left us feeling very full, to which the obvious solution was a trip back out into the rainforest to see spiders and snakes. Luckily (in my eyes at least!) we didn’t see either, but we did see some night jays, and when out on the boat later, we also saw some caimen. This was all rounded off with a lovely crash into a real bed (albeit a very short bed that my feet poked off the end of! – but a nice change from my usual sofa).

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We awoke very early the next morning, and headed back down the river to see the hummingbirds, and we were not disappointed. Not only were there plenty of hummingbirds about, but they seemed perfectly happy to come very close – amazing! After a quick trip back to bed, it was time for breakfast: more delicious Guyanese food. There were more guests arriving today – a group of nine Americans – one of them couldn’t believe that there were Girl Guides in Guyana! We spent a leisurely morning enjoying the sun, and swimming and kayaking in the river, before lunch and a final chance to enjoy our surroundings. We headed back off to the Marina in the little speedboat, with several other random people who had emerged from the rainforest, as well as a selection of pot plants and a tortoise in a bucket!

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Two hours by bus and boat later we arrived home, to finish packing and cleaning before we leave Guyana early tomorrow morning!

Monday 11th August

Our last full day as a team of six before Heather flies home tomorrow! We headed into town with Samuel, our lovely bus driver, for the last time! After paying and posing for a photo, we were stood in the market being a bit emotional when who should we bump into but Winston, the lovely man Yolanda had chatted to in the market for ages a few days ago.

Feeling very much like locals, we set off to track down the bank with the ATMs again, so we could afford to buy anything today… Unfortunately no one got to play on the ATMs to withdraw large sums of money today. Gutted! Then came the hunt for the post office, which was much easier said than done; when we eventually tracked it down, Emily, Heather and I purchased a rather large quantity of stamps to send all our postcards home.

After another trip to the infamous ‘Guyana stores’ we’d all heard so much about before coming to Guyana, and some little local craft stalls, we went to find some lunch armed with a hammock, several pairs of shoes, magnets… All the essentials really! After researching ‘Shanta’s’ at great length last week only to find it was closed, it seemed only right that we paid it a visit today. It took a while to track it down, and we barely noticed it when we did stumble upon it; a humble little cafe just off the main road, sandwiched between lots of other little cafes. At last we had the chance to try Roti & Puri (which were both delicious!) as well as our assortment of curries. We also met up with Erin for the last time *sob* who helped us to try and track down Berle with the hope of fully evaluating project today, as well as putting together a ‘two year plan’ for the continuation of our work. Unfortunately we couldn’t get hold of her until we were on a bus hurtling through the streets of Georgetown with music blaring (classic Guyanese bus ride, really). Her husband was still ill, so she eventually agreed to evaluate over the phone later that evening.

As we walked home from the bus stop, we saw a cow stuck in the ditch surrounded by a crowd of people; luckily when we passed later, there was no sign of a cow! As Emily, Olivia and I headed to the supermarket, a man declared his undying love for us out of the window of his bus – lovely! I shall definitely miss people shouting at us all in the street!


All that was left to do was to bid emotional farewells to Jenny and Shoeshine, the dogs who live at the house with us, pack all our stuff up and deep clean the house ready for us all to leave tomorrow morning! The project was also successfully evaluated over the phone with Berle, and we’re all very excited for the continuing links with the Guyana Girl Guides Association, and wish them all the best for the future! 🙂

Evaluation and Pegasus

10th August

Evaluation day today with Berle – at least that is what we thought! Therefore we spent the morning at the house waiting for her to arrive so that Heather could run through evaluating the last five years of the project with her, unfortunately she was a no show, due to other commitments and her husband being ill. It was a shame we couldn’t get the evaluation sorted and out the way with as I knew it was weighing on Heather’s mind, considering we needed to pin her down tomorrow for definite to answer some questions (considering Heather was leaving on the Tuesday!)

Anyway we decided to make the most of the day and therefore head out to the Pegasus for some swimming and a few drinks. However come 2pm and everyone being ready to leave, low and behold the rain decided to make an appearance. Glorious sunshine up until then, but when you want to go out it decides to pour! Luckily it only lasted half an hour ish and we finally made our way to the hotel, walking along the sea wall and taking the sites in once again.

I decided to go swimming, though some of the team decided not to take a dip but rather read their books by the side. Swimming was beautiful, so nice to chill in the pool and relax. Erin made an appearance not long after we arrived, she had come to join us for dinner and it was great to see her again. It was a shame no one else could make it, however Tiana had the excuse of being at a wedding.

This is going to sound silly but it was great to actually chat with Erin – guiding is always a subject we can talk about, but this time we spoke about other things, such as religion (proper in depth conversation stuff here!). The ability to talk about things not guiding related felt more like friends rather than guiding acquaintances, which is what at the beginning of GOLD we all were.


Lots of GOLD love

Yolanda xxx

Front Seat at Kaieteur – 9th August

A very early start for Kaieteur trip today – 5AM wake up call, lovely! After everyone (bar Heather, who was full of beans) emerged from their rooms bleary eyed and got ready we were on our way to Roraima to wait for our bus to the airport. Whilst at Roraima we met two lovely gentlemen from Texas and Oklahoma, who were going to Arrowpoint for the day. They were in Guyana as missionaries and were only around for a week. As conversation flowed, it transpired that they had left their sun cream at home for the day and whilst on route to Arrowpoint there was nowhere for them to buy sun cream. I therefore piped up and did my good turn for the day, offering them my sun cream, considering that we had enough between us for everyone. A ‘Thank y’all darlin’ ensued and the obligatory photo with me and Hector!


It was a shame they were going to Arrowpoint, they would have been a good pair to get to know around Kaieteur Falls. However we were with three Dutch girls for the day that stayed mostly to themselves. We were being sent to Ogle Airport instead of the main international airport and therefore had some time to kill before leaving Roraima at 6.45 – mind you the airport was only ten minutes away but the bus took 20 min to get there – we think he was killing time! However after you have been driven around in Guyanese buses for the last two weeks, disregarding speed limits, a bus going at 15mph makes you grind your teeth and wish for him to hurry up!!

We finally made it however and saw our little 10 seater plane for our trip, I loved the look of it but Emily and Olivia were not as sure. I was very lucky to get to sit in the front seat with the pilot for the journey to Kaieteur, which took around an hour. As we made our way up and across Georgetown it was amazing to see the expanse of fields that are hidden behind the houses on the main roads – we never knew it was so vast. And where the fields stopped, the forest started; honestly it went on and on and on! Absolutely incredible and beautiful to see from the air. The view was incredible below and above, flying through the clouds at 6000 ft in a little plane is a completely different experience to being on a commercial plane, and it was fantastic to see the brilliant whiteness of the clouds and the wispiness of them as we flew through them. I loved every minute of it.

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IMG_0890 As we neared Kaieteur the pilot turned to me and told me to keep my yes on front as he was going to take us past the waterfall. Little did we know what that meant! There were some sharp turns and dives to take us above and alongside the waterfall, it was a bit like aero acrobatics and definitely got the adrenalin pumping that’s for sure! Can’t fault it though as got some great views. As we came to land I realised that not all passengers felt quite as I did, Olivia was clinging onto Heather for dear life and I believe Emily was white knuckled by the end of it. To be fair to them there should have been some warning about the planes drastic turns and dives!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100Once on the ground we had two hours to follow the guide through the rainforest and to the viewing platforms, so of we trekked. Our first stop was Johnson’s platform (named after the contractor who built some bridges and steps along the trail). Not many people usually get to go up to Johnsons viewing platform as a woman had fallen into a crevice a few years before and needed ropes to get her back out, as she was stuck. We however were an ‘agile’ group and therefore allowed to go along the trail. Once at the top the view was stunning, as you can see below.


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Onto the next view – Boy Scouts View (named after the boy scouts who had camped there, we think it should be named Girl Guides View in honour of our visit!) The view was even more spectacular than the previous one as we were getting closer to the waterfall. Third platform was called Rainbow View, due to being able to see a rainbow at certain times of the day, though we unfortunately didn’t see one. As we were getting closer the sound of the falls intensified and at the last platform it was crashing down. The fourth platform was where the water flowed over the edge and we were able to sit on the bank with our feet in the water taking in the view, of both the waterfall and the valley in the distance. Our guide told us that if you wash your face in the water of Kaieteur it takes ten years off you, so Fiona and Heather were right in there! :p Mind you it wasn’t so great that Clare washed her face and reverted back to her ten year old self!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100


VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

The waterfall was amazing, though it was quite a rushed visit and we wanted a bit longer to just sit and take in the view. However it was back to the airstrip and back to reality. Heather was in the front seat this time, which she loved. The journey back was less eventful than the way there, although with Olivia next to me my job was looking after her… my hand was squeezed quite a bit along with Hector! So proud of both Olivia and Emily mind you, it’s better to face your fears than not at all and they both went up in the little plane, so flying definitely won’t ever defeat them!


Afternoon was a tad uneventful – sleeping, cleaning, writing diaries etc. However the evening was much better, as we had Tiana and Erin over for pizza. Unfortunately they were the only two Goldies who could make it, though that meant all the more pizza for us! It was a great evening and full of laughs, with Erin and Tiana telling us all about Guyanese music; I’m not sure most of it would make it through the UK’s censorship!

A great day out at Kaieteur and a great evening with Erin and Tiana 😀

Lots of Goldie love,

Yolanda xx

Guyana Festival!

While Olivia and Heather stayed home, Yolanda, Emily, Fiona and I headed to the Guyana festival. We were super proud that we made it all the way across Georgetown on two different buses to the national stadium where we waited for Kerri, Nicky, Atesha and Saudia to arrive (Tiana and Erin were both busy). After a while waiting, running out of credit and a mad search for somewhere to buy phone credit, we headed into the festival by ourselves, as the others were stuck in traffic somewhere.

It was all a bit odd – although the festival had been open for at least 45 minutes, it was all still being put together. We walked through a tent showcasing local crafts which only had half the stalls filled; other tents were still being put up! We sat and watched a military band play, but were the only one who clapped when they finished, Guyanese crowds seem pretty hard to please.

Eventually, the Kerri and co arrived and we took our seats in the stadium to watch the air show, which should have started just after we arrived. But we sat in the stadium waiting for ages before anything happened, and even then, the plane flew over twice before anyone jumped out of it. Worse still, they jumped behind where everyone was sitting so we could only see them land, and one of them missed the whole stadium and landed outside! It was still pretty enjoyable though.

After it had finished we were whisked away to take our seas for the opening ceremony, which was both fascinating and odd at the same time. The idea of the whole festival was celebrating Guyanese culture, so the show took in all the different cultural influences; from may pole dancing, people swaying in some very big costumes on a very small bit of stage, and some amazing traditional dancing from all over! We also got to hear some more traditional folk songs of Guyana, as well as some of their folk tales, dramatized by the theatre school from Georgetown! We’re now well educated in the tales of ‘Bacoo’, ‘The Old Hag’ and several others. For me, the most amazing performance was just as we were preparing to leave; an amazing fusion of modern hip-hop/street dance and traditional tribal dancing.

We had to leave to get back home before it got too late, but stopped off to try some more Guyanese cuisine; Yolanda and I had noodles, while Emily and Fiona had the traditional Guyanese burger (or not! :P). After waiting a whole two minutes for a bus (I don’t think we’ve ever had to wait so long!), we asked a policeman if the buses were still running, and he made the next bus stop right by us, skipping the large crowd of Guyanese people waiting a little further down from us. Once on, it was so full that Yolanda had to sit on Emily’s knee, but we made it safely home, across a much wilder market than usual (who knew the market was the place to be at 9pm on a Friday night!?). Once home, we told Heather and Olivia of our experiences, and watched all of Heather’s videos from our trip so far – it seems so long since we flew from Heathrow!