Well Its been just over a month since I arrived in Guyana. Right now I’m working as a geologist for a company called Sandspring Resources on a copper-gold project in Toroparu, Guyana. This is my first time in South America
It’s weird because it doesn’t seem that different from North America, most of the time at least. Except for the crazy heat, the humidity and the supersized flying insects . No tarantula sightings yet thank god. Oh and apparently there are jaguars and tigers and anacondas in the forest that is a few steps away from where I work. Apart from that it’s exactly like North America!
There’s over a hundred people working here and the male:female ratio is about 99:1. As a female working in the field I have often faced discrimination, sexism, and just plain crudeness from guys at my workplace. From my first job where my boss thought I was a prude for not wanting to go skinny dipping with him to a more recent position where one of my assistants wanted me to “get down on my knees” for him, I’ve gotten used to dealing with men who think they can get away with this nonsense. In Guyana (or at least at this camp) there have been no problems whatsoever. Quite the opposite actually, as I sometimes find myself being a little bit a celebrity. One day I looked up to find two new equipment operators standing there watching me with big shy grins on their faces. It was all very non-threatening and now the three of us are the best of friends but it was a bit odd. Later on I made jokes with the other expatriates about being a tourist attraction! The drillers call me “Miss Catherine ” (love it!!), wash the drill core off before they put it in the boxes, and are always smiling. Everyone here is always smiling, even when they get woken up at 1am to move the drill (again) because I lined it up wrong (again). Maybe they’re cursing me on the inside, but I hope that their easy-going nature is genuine, as it’s one of the many things that makes working at the Toroparu site so pleasurable.
The core shack where I spend most of my work days resembles a large lean-to that was cobbled together with large timbers, a corrugated roof, and several sea-can containers. It looks a little rough but it’s actually the nicest core shack I’ve ever worked in. Because it’s open and because the roof is layered sections instead of one solid piece, we get shade, a breeze to cool us off and a great view of the jungle. I love it! No scorpions hanging about, the spiders are small, and the moths that are always trying to mate (?) with the core have become only a minor hindrance. Still can’t pick them up with my bare hands though, and have to get the guys help me move the spiders. <shudder>
Before coming here a friend introduced me to a colleague of his who was looking to hire some geologists for his project in Colombia. He spent the better part of what became a very drunken evening (Note to self: just because it’s an open bar for convention attendees, does not mean I have to drink the bar dry. Or maybe I should just avoid trying to keep pace with a bunch of crazy Aussie geologists) trying to convince me that Guyana was a terrible place. He wanted me to come to Colombia for his project and it was pretty tempting. Fortunately though, he didn’t follow-up with me after getting my c.v so – here I am in Guyana! Because the people in Guyana are incredibly friendly, happy, and welcoming. And I’m determined to enjoy every moment in the 40degC heat (and 100% humidity).
Next stop: Brazil!