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Trip Start Sep 15, 2005
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Trip End Nov 11, 2005


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Flag of Suriname  ,
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So I will try to give you a little more detail about things here in Suriname. The weather is hot and humid but no body ever knows the temperature. It is like Kay said about India - why talk about it because it is always hot. I did however see a temperature sign on Sunday that said 37 degrees and I think that it has been slightly less than that since. Maybe only 30- 32 perhaps but I don't know for sure. This is the hot season. There are lots of bugs including cockroaches but it amazing how used to them you get in a short time. They startle me if I open a drawer because they scurry away but other than that it is no big deal. I found out they are harmless. Little tiny frogs about the size of a quarter come into the shower at night. Again I am very used to them and really pay them no attention. There are lots of other bugs and ants and things, so you must always wear your shoes outside. I live in the country in the District of Wanica and so there are a lot of frogs and night birds that sing me to sleep.
I started work on Tuesday and so have a sense of how things will work. I have meetings set up with various organizations over the next two days and will take plenty of time to get to know people. Then I will develop a work plan with each of the organizations - SMNP, Maxi Linder, Claudia A, PepSur, and perhaps even Paarl House. SMNP is more general in their work, Maxi Linder works with sex trade, Claudia A works with people who are living with HIV/AIDS, PepSur is a youth based peer support group, and Paarl House is a place for children who are living with HIV/AIDS. I will also get involved in the radio project to do HIV/AIDS programming to the villages in the interior of the country,
The food has been interesting as I already mentioned previously. Thank goodness my stomach has settled down as the first two days were not pretty and I was wondering just a little what I had gotten myself into. That thought process has since passed and I am very comfortable in my surroundings and am now able to try new dishes. We had roti with curried potatoes and spiced beans in town yesterday (roti is an India flat bread of sorts). It was great. Donavan cooked yesterday evening and made a dish of vegetables we had shopped for together at the fresh market in town. It seems that lots of things get mixed together and then you eat them on rice. The mixture had cauliflower, alfalfa sprouts, spices, and chicken and ham. It was really good too. Tonight we had cabbage and spices with beef in it on rice, so you can see that this is quite different from Canada. We also bought lots of fruit and so I am eating oranges, bananas, apples, and papaya. So far I have stuck with the bottled water but some of the other Canadians are drinking the water and are fine.
My house is fabulous. I thought that I would be staying with Erna, the lady who came to Canada last year to visit HIV North. However her niece has come to stay with her to go to high school in the capital and so I am with her friends Donavan and Henna. Henna works doing payroll etc. for the Surolco company and Donavan is involved in youth government, volunteers as a peer councilor with PepSur and goes to school part time. They have been treating me like a queen! The house is tiled throughout and seems to be nicer than most that I have seen. There is a housekeeper that comes in twice a week to clean and do laundry and so I am very spoiled. I have my own bedroom and Henna has gone out of her way to make sure it has a fan, a clothes rack and a small table for my things. They have taken lots of time to show me around and talk to me about the bus routes etc. I can call them at anytime if I need picked up. Henna even offered me the car once it is fixed but that would be totally crazy. You should see how they drive around here. First of all they drive on the left side of the road, passing all the time even in town if nothing is coming. They beep their horn continually so people will let you into the stream of traffic or just to warn someone that you are going through. Polite beeping you know. Lots of potholes and Erna says that the bad roads are nothing to talk about but if they were good then that would be news worth printing!
The variety of cultures here is very obvious - although most people are dark skinned it is easy to look and determine there descent at most times. Javanese have a very Indonesian look to them, Maroon are darker than others, Hindustani have long dark "straight hair" and distinction Indian features, Creole are usually lighter than Maroon, and then there is also many Chinese shop keepers. But everyone has been friendly and inviting and from what I have seen so far lots of people mix well with others. In my family, Donavan is Maroon and Henna is Hindustani. Henna speaks English, Dutch, sarang Tonga, Spanish, and Portuguese. Donavan's English is not as good as Henna's and he speaks Dutch and sarang Tonga. So lots of conversations happen around me where I haven't a clue what anybody is saying but then someone will stop and tell me the gist of things. Dutch lessons will start next week and then I hope to pick up more than a word here or there. However I listened hard for an hour at the river on Sunday to try to pick up a Dutch word or two out of the conversations, until I clued into the fact that they were speaking sarang tonga! They tend to go back and forth a lot depending on who they are speaking to. Most people do speak at least some English and so that is helpful for sure.
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Comments

kzaretski
kzaretski on

Greetings
Hi Brenda: Sounds like you are fitting in with the culture and charms of the land. Nice to hear of your adventures and work experiences...catch come sun for us less fortunate Canadians in the north.

Ciao Karen

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