The Secret Life of a Teacher

beach at berbice

When I migrated to this sun-drenched coastal location in South America in 1991, I knew I would be taking my life in an interesting direction, but I got far more than I ever bargained for…..

I had gone into the move with my eyes wide open. I knew that I was going to live in an extremely undeveloped place, because I had been there for a six week holiday the year before, during my summer vacation from the school I was teaching at in Dubai. I knew that it would be difficult and that the village we were going to build our home and ecotourism business in was devoid of basic services and infrastructure. I also knew that the country had been the focus of the Jim Jones mass suicide scandal during its “banana republic” era of the 1970s under President Forbes Burnham’s dictatorship and that its institutions were far from perfect even though that tyranny had ended with Burnham’s death in 1985. We both expected these things to change as the new President, Desmond Hoyte, had used his first five years of power to improve the country’s economy. Democratic elections monitored by the Carter Centre were scheduled for the following year. I had just married a man I had known closely for seven years and although we had never yet lived together, our relationship had withstood the strains of three years of separation since I had taken up employment in the U.A.E. I was convinced it would be strong enough to survive the tests ahead and wise enough to know that I could survive another divorce if my judgement had proved wrong.

Edwin (Joe), my new husband, was on a mission. He had bought some land in his home country, Guyana, when he had revisited to bury his father in 1984. He had not been back since 1950 and had been shocked to see the state the country had declined into. He had promised the Guyanese family who had taken him to England with them in 1950 that he would one day return to help develop his homeland. Now in his fifties with his three children married and living their own lives, he had decided the time was right for him to fulfil that pledge. His working life as a British soldier on active service in Malaya, Aden, Kenya, Northern Ireland and Germany had prepared him for the worst in life as well as the best. He was a trained paramedic who could cope with any emergency. He had vast managerial and business experience both within the army and in his subsequent civilian post in local government. He had been handling budgets of millions and made huge profits for Milton Keynes Borough Council. I had no idea about running a business because I had only ever been an employee, working mostly in public service. I had every confidence that he knew far more about business than me so I trusted his judgement. He was tough and stood no nonsense. He had saved lives and seen his mates killed in action. He was powerfully built, trained in unarmed combat but was also a crack shot and could use whatever weapon he might have to hand. I knew he would protect me from any danger we might face. He had thought of everything essential to prepare us for this once in a lifetime move across the globe and what little details he had not deemed important, I had thought of and prepared for. I had resigned from my school in Dubai and now had no income. We would both survive on what was left of our savings and his pension until our business started making money from the international tourist trade we aimed to procure.

What neither of us had taken into account, however, was the unwritten law of the jungle we were now in and the extent to which global economics can derail the best laid plans. We soon found ourselves cut loose from civilisation and fighting for our own survival in a hostile environment. We were caught up in a dangerous web of deceit, narcotics trafficking, murder and espionage which would test our resourcefulness and our relationship to its limits for the next eighteen years.


To read the full story of how we survived the next eighteen years and why in the end we had to escape from it, order “The ElDorado Affair. A True Story of Pioneers in Rural Guyana South America” by Jane Joseph ISBN 978-0-9932409-0-4 published by Sapodilla Press 2015

Available NOW in paperback RRP £15 to order from your local book store or by post on Also overseas readers may be glad to know that it is also now available in digital format on Kindle.