Langa Tabiki - Into the Interior
Trip Start Aug 14, 2005
13Trip End Dec 16, 2005
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Last weekend we had quite the adventure into the Interior. In Suriname they seem to call almost anything outside the city of Parimaribo "the interior" . Langa Tabiki is an island in the Marowijne River which borders French Guyana.
The trip was, in many ways, a series of misadventures. I will start by telling you a bit about Erna Aviankoy. She is a Maroon woman who is the coordinator of the CCI Radio Project. She is a journalist and also has a weekly T.V. show and does radio work swell. Her focus is mostly women's issues, bother T.V. show's focus is employment issues. She is a dynamic woman who seems to know everyone in Suriname and can make things happen. She is also always on overload and runs on the seat of her pants. She moves in the chaos of the Surinamese system and is never ruffled.
We swam in the river and meandered through the village and sat around as you are supposed to do on a hot afternoon in Langa Tabiki.
There is a community radio station in the village, which was one of the reasons that Erna arranged for us to go there. The 2 radio girls are familiarizing themselves with the community radio equipment
What struck me most about this village is how empty it is. There were mostly women and children. Very few men and young people. We are told the men and young people are away from the village working. Either in the mines or in the city. We meet Dwight, a young man on 28 whose mother he tells us is the teacher in the village. He is bedecked with gold, sporting two large gold rings and large gold earrings and a heavy gold chain. He has been working in the Cambior mine as is obviously dazzled by the gold. He tells us of the large gold bars he has seem and he is angry at the government for allowing all this gold to leave Suriname. He also seems to think that because the Cambior gold goes to Canada that Canada must be paved with Suriname gold. He flirts with the girls,looking for a Canadian wife. He is waiting now for a job with Suralco, the US based bauxite mine.
We see a mining operation in the Marowijne River near Langa Tabiki. This small operation is contributing to the serious pollution that the mining operations are foisting on Suriname. The people in the village can no longer drink the river water or eat the fish and this is a very large river.
When I get back to my family in Parimaribo I talk to them about the situations in the village and the Cambior mines and I feel ashamed to be Canadian! I don't recall in any of my travels being ashamed of my country. The people I talk to don't seem angry at Canadian but their own government for allowing Cambior's mining practice. They would never be allowed to do this in their own country they tell me, and they are right! They tell me that not only does Cambior have bad mining practices in Suriname, but they promised jobs and community development and none of these promises materialize.
The growing dependence on consumer goods and the westernization of their culture.
I am struck by how colonialism continues in new guises.
Back to the adventure. Evenually, after dark, four mattresses arrived for eight of us and the 2 drivers. Brenda, the sensible one, had brought a hammock! the 2 young girls and I put 2 mattresses together and slept sideways with shoulders and back on the matresses. Amy and Steve shared a single and Jack the single guy got one to himself. Erna said she had some kind of sleeping mat and the bus boys slept on the floor.
Ihave to tell you that I actually slept well.
The drive home was another story. We were aware that we were on bald tires and prayiing to whatever gods there be for these kids to hold the road should we blow a tire. Well, they did!