We took a quick trip to the North today, joining Fr Paul on his journey home. It was a rough, bumpy journey, and we only stayed about half an hour in Karasabi, but it was worth it to see some different scenery.
Vehicles don't last long round here - a new 4x4 can be ground into the dust in only a few years. There are a handful of old Land Rovers which have been patched up enough to be used as local run-abouts, and then there are the Bedford trucks. These trucks carry a full load of oil drums - full of gasoline - on the road between Georgetown and Lethem and then from Lethem into the mountains, into the forest, over the savannah. They carry on where the roads stop and pretty much keep the interior of Guyana running. I've no idea how long this one has been going - but there is a chance that it will be still running when the driver's son is big enough to reach the pedals, and old enough to drive it.
28th April 2009
It is just over one month since we got the news that my mother had died. It has been a busy month, full of emotion. Whilst many of these emotions have been linked to sadness and grief, there has also been laughter and remembrance, strengthening friendships and family ties, and genuine care and comfort from virtual strangers.
Somehow the Jesuits manage to fit in all these categories. It feels to me as though they have changed from being sponsors of our work in Aishalton to being members of a larger family. Their efficient planning ensured that on arrival at Georgetown we had tickets and reservations to continue straight on to the UK – but those are the measures of an efficient employer. It is in the condolences, care and understanding, and in the welcome we have received in places en-route, from colleagues old and new, that we have felt so cared for and so well looked after.
Unbeknownst to us, Father Paul had booked a seat on the Lethem-to-Georgetown minibus. Because Paul travels most of the time on foot, it was easier for him to pick up the bus out in the country, waiting for 10 hours at the side of the road until it comes by at 11pm and he can flag it down. It was a great act of kindness from an American living in Lethem that had put us on to that bus. At first we could barely believe it when Paul appeared out of nowhere; at a time when we were tired, sad and confused it was a total coincidence, but a great relief, to have Paul to talk to.
We got to the river crossing just after sunrise and I took this picture of Paul. I wondered about trying to continue the Photo of the Day blog, but it was the last picture I took for a few weeks.
Now it is time to pick up our project again. Today we crossed over the same river, at the same time, but going in the opposite direction. We are going back to Aishalton to continue our work there. Paul wasn’t with us on the journey this time, but we will always remember the sudden appearance of this shadow figure, flagging down the bus in the middle of the night and sharing our difficult journey. Throughout the last month the face of the Jesuits has changed often – through people giving their silent presence and comfort, people appearing unexpectedly to hide at the back of the funeral and disappear again without getting in the way, from an invite to join the final lunch at the UK Jesuit Province assembly where an orderly queue formed to offer condolences over the crumble, to friendly bear hugs and tempting cocktails at sunset.
So, today’s post is a thank you....