To the river
This past weekend, for the first time during my service in Suriname, I visited the interior. Some PCVs had put together a proposal for entrepreneurship training to be held by the organization for which I work, and we were able to make it happen, so early on Friday morning, off we went!
Getting up early to get in a car and then get in a boat is not my idea of fun, but my efforts were rewarded when we saw the sunrise while driving to meet the boat. With the way the rays of the Sun were coming through the clouds, it looked like the sky was striped. The sky was not red (which would have been a bad omen) but a bright blue (as it is every day here!) and as the Sun came up, we got more excited for the trip. The monkey that we nearly ran over added a bit of excitement to the three-hour drive to the boat launch (luckily he changed his mind and ran back off the road).
How many people can say they have experienced nearly running over a monkey on the road?
I thought I was prepared for the boat ride: I had put on sunblock, covered up my arms, legs, head, chest, and feet. As I discovered during the ride, though, covering my feet were not necessary, as we had to get out of the boat a few times and walk through the water to shore, while the boat passed over the rapids. We would walk through a crossing or over some rocks and meet it. This is because right now, on the river, it is still the dry season and the river is quite low. It was really interesting to see all of the rocks that are covered during the rainy season, and to see the markers of just how high the water gets.
As it turns out, I was not as well prepared as I thought I was and my nose, mouth, chin, and hands got sunburned. I had even, towards the end of the boat ride, taken the socks out of my bag and put them on my hands because I saw them getting pink (note to self: after applying sunblock and using the restroom, then washing hands, make sure to re-apply sunblock). So when we got to the village where we were conducting the training and were in the first session, my counterpart referred to my bright red nose and mentioned how December is the holiday season and I would fit in with Rudolph.
Well, I tried anyway. Got a couple of lessons learned as regards the Sun during the boat trip. My counterpart brought a pangi and used that to block the Sun. Smart woman.
It was a bit of a marathon 36 or so hours. We arrived, changed, conducted the first session, then walked to the guesthouse where we were staying. By this time, we were pretty tired, so we ate, showered (well, used the bucket of water and gourd shell for a bath/shower) and I was only a couple of pages further in my reading before I fell asleep.
It was 9:00 p.m.
Upon waking the next morning, I saw photo opportunities, which I nearly missed so I committed to getting up a little earlier the following morning to capture the moments, where the mist was rising off the river and the river was so calm you could see the reflections of the rocks in the water, to the extent that the water looked like a mirror.
We had another full day, during which I conducted a couple of the sessions, which, thankfully, went well. I was worried, after conducting training in Ukraine, that here in Suriname people would respond the same, but they really opened up and talked, and laughed, and participated. When I had them do role-plays (which I personally don’t like to do) and they really loved it.
The day went quickly, and soon weekend one of the training was complete. Another walk back to the guesthouse, another dinner, and another night falling asleep early: was it the travel, the air, the work, or a combination of all of them that made me so tired? Either way…
I made myself get up a little earlier on Sunday morning because I wanted to capture a few moments before the sun came up. This is one of my favorite photos from Sunday a.m.
As far as excitement on our way back…at one point when we had to exit the boat so the boat could go through the rapids, I started walking on what I thought was sand. I was very wrong. It was mud, and I quickly sank past my ankles in it. As I stood there laughing, I briefly considered having someone take my photo, but I was afraid I would continue sinking to the point where I would not be able to get out, so I quickly returned to the water, rinsed off, and walked on a sandier area to dry land.
Here is the link to the Upper Suriname River album on Picasa – the “training related” photos.
Here is the link to the To the River album on Picasa – the “artsy” photos.