Thursday, May 31, 2012

Visitor in Suriname

One of my (Mike's) friends since elementary school actually made the journey to Suriname to come visit us!  Johnny C came for a week long visit in April.  It was great to see him and to show off a few of the highlights here. For the ~3 hour ride to Atjoni (on our way to Tutu), John got to experience the lanti wagi (public bus) in all of its glory:

(Lanti wagi to Atjonie)

Our time in Tutu went fast since John and I had to get back to Paramaribo in order to join a tour to Galibi, where leatherback and green sea turtles go to lay their eggs each year.  Galibi is a small indigenous town on the coast of Suriname near French Guiana.  The tour included some of the best indonesian food I’ve had yet – homemade bami with a spicy peanut sauce that was heads above the rest.  No turtle stew was offered.

(Moiwana Memorial to the over 30 men, women, and children that were massacred in 1986 during the civil war)

(the lodge in Galibi where we stayed. It was nice and windy)

That afternoon we toured the Galibi zoo, a ramshackle set up run by a self-proclaimed converted poacher.  It was a great experience as you really get to interact with the animals.  In fact, before we went into the zoo, this little critter was running around loose behind our guide:

(capybara on the loose)

Me, John, and the 3 other dutchies on our tour then casually entered the zoo through the side hedges.  We still ended up paying the 7.50 SRD, which was well worth it for the following reasons:

(ocelot looking at something fun and tasty)

(sleepy ocelot)

(Mike with toucan)

(John feeds a toucan plastic buckles)

(I bet you've never seen a monkey on a capybara's back!)

(anteater in action with capybara in background. They burrow incredibly quickly. Which is good, otherwise they'd go hungry.)

(Mike with sloth. That sloth wanted to go up, to its natural habitat. It just kept looking upwards and lazily reaching for the sky.)

At night we took a boat further up the coast to where the turtles lay their eggs.  I had heard, and it makes sense, that you do not want to disturb the turtles.  However, between our guide and the WWF film crew on the scene, a turtle or 2 was most definitely disturbed.  They claimed it was fine, that once the turtle is in the process of actually laying the eggs it’s in a trance.  Well, it seemed to keep on laying its eggs, so maybe they didn’t mess with it too bad.  And on the selfish plus side, all of their flashlights led to some decent nightime photos (even with all the molesting going on, I still didn't use a flash).

(green sea turtle nesting. We sadly didn't see any leatherbacks)

(a glimpse of some future green sea turtles. Unless they get poached by the locals (going rate is apparently 1-3 SRD per egg, or US$0.30 - $1.00) or eaten by predators)

(that bright video camera light is the WWF film crew. Just like with a wedding photographer, I tried to put my camera on their shoulder and take the same pictures. They love it when you do that, right?)

(short video clip of a green sea turtle covering its nest before heading back out to sea)

(this tree is in Galibi. It must know a thing or two by now)

We also had the chance to tour the old French penal (hehehehe...penal) colony in Saint Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana.   This prison was the temporary, lower-security prison that many prisoners were received into (from Europe) or were sent to when sick (as in the famous case of Papillón). It still didn't seem like a fun place to be.

(maybe the walls weren't this gross back then)

(The ankle shackle in its usual position, which was on the prisoners almost much of the day. The worst part is that their piss bucket was on the floor to the left. Take a minute and picture yourself standing up to the left of that "bed", with your left foot fixed. Yeah...not good...)

(check out IKEA's new wooden wedge pillow!)

(a refreshing bit of color)

(When punished, or maybe even when full, 50-100 (they told me, but I don't remember) prisoners were put into this one room, shackled to sleep. Keep in mind that they worked hard labor all day, washed clothes once a month, and this concrete room is located in French Guiana, which is not a cool climate)

(the squat plate in the punishment room. Turns out this was also called the "love corner." Romantic, huh?)

(this boat didn't make it out of there alive, either)

After returning to Paramaribo, we just had another night or two with John here in country.  So we tried to make the best of it.  After just a couple of good meals and drinks, it was already time to see John go.

(Mike and Jill outside of Ft Zeelandia)

(a great pancake lunch. More like crepes, but covered with anything you can imagine. Yum!)

(John, Mike, and Jill before John had to catch a plane back to Denver)

(weird things happen when you are waiting for an international flight departing at 6am)

Seeing a friend from home was a really nice way to break up our time in the village.  And for all of you that have threatened to come visit, John set the new expectation –stop threatening and pull the trigger!

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