My days were filled with car horns beeping, cows mooing, chutney music blaring, and alluring scents of food. Standing on the veranda, I look straight and see the East Berbice-Corentyne River and the country of Suriname. I look to my left and see different sized cows roaming the streets; to my right the hustle bustle of the market, where vendors are selling Red Shrimp, Sugar cake, Plantain balls, and Cassava Bread. I close my eyes and take in the wide range of smells. First I smell fried rice and egg being cooked in front of my house at Yang’s Restaurant. Another smell wafts my way: that of Katahar, Pumpkin, and Dhal cooking. If the scent is strong enough, you can also smell fried chicken and fries from the KFC down the street. I visited my mom’s family in Berbice, Guyana, South America two weeks ago and even though my body has left, my mind has not.
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As soon as I stepped off the Air Jamaica airplane at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, I noticed several blue and white cop cars. My initial thought was that something was wrong, but I later found out that the president of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, had arrived on the same plane. This automatically showed me that things would be different here. At midnight while driving home, we came upon a stopped truck full of armed men. A uniformed police officer holding a black rifle stopped us for a routine checkup. It was a scary encounter because we do not experience police with exposed arms in America. We continued driving and experienced cows, goats, sheep, and several dogs wandering the streets. There is no animal control in Berbice, therefore animals roam freely. With an absence of animal control comes the absence of animal care – every dog was either malnourished or injured. I want to become a veterinarian so I made it my goal to open a hospital in Berbice. Additionally, it does not seem that there is a trash management system in that town so trash is strewn anywhere.
My family traveled to Georgetown to visit places like St. Margaret’s school that they knew 30 years ago. My mom’s side of the family is from Guyana and she lived in Georgetown as a child so it was deeply significant that she relive memories. It became momentous for me as well because I experienced the beauty of where my relatives came from. Thus, my family’s background became my background. Soon, strangers became friends and friends became family.
The last day in Guyana was extremely emotional. It was as if Guyana transformed who I was – by staying in Berbice I realized that there is much more to living than what meets the eye. I was exposed to hardworking people who always think of others. Also, technology is not an important part of the Berbice life; it does not make up who they are, it only accompanies them with their strongest needs. Furthermore, my family helped me to see the beauty of a country that is prideful of its existence.
The point of this trip to Guyana was to visit my family’s home country that they have not seen for 30 years. I am glad that I was a part of the reunion between a country and its people. It meant so much to my family to see their true home. As the plane was leaving, I looked out the cabin window and saw Guyana slowly passing by. That’s when I realized that no matter where you live, your native country will always be your true home.
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