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Taking the good days

July 30, 2012

I’m still early in my service here in Suriname. Indeed, I have just started week four. Overall, things are going well, and I am not only glad for, but very willing to take, the good days that I have right now – and hope they will continue.

Yesterday morning, I found my way back to the home of the woman who is offering Yoga to us. She is an Embassy employee and is really good as both practitioner and teacher. Though my lower body seems to not be as flexible as my upper body, overall I leave there feeling good. Then I got home, lay on my bed to cool down, and did not want to get up again. For some reason, I was tired. But I had things with which to occupy myself in my nice cool space, so I stayed in.

I’m still getting used to the beating sun. I am getting used to sweating pretty much every time I step outside, but that sun is going to kill me! After my excursion on Saturday early afternoon, I ended up with sunburn on part of my back – the part to which I forgot to apply sunblock. For someone as fair as I am, sunblock is not an option if I want to be outside for more than a few minutes at a time.

Before I arrived home yesterday, I had a cross-cultural moment, which leaves me with questions to which I must find the answer. I’ve had a few of those so far. Like, men with their birds. When we first got here, we noticed men taking caged songbirds out for walks, bringing them to their workplace and hanging them, hanging them out by other birds. I determined I HAD to look into this when, one evening at dinner, another Response Volunteer looked out across the street and said, “I’m not sure how long it will take me to get used to men taking their birds for a walk”. The statement sounded so funny, but it is true – it is always men, and they take their birds out.

So I asked a couple of people about the birds thing. Apparently, having a songbird is a bit of a status thing (and some of these birds can fetch quite the amount of money!). Also apparently, a bunch of men get together near the Presidential Palace and have a singing competition. I am not sure if I will make it to this competition, as it BEGINS around 6:30. That’s a.m. It ends by 8:30. (there is a good, if 13  year old, article from the Baltimore Sun about this – this is pretty much all of the information I found when doing a Web search in English. Maybe there’s more in Dutch…). To get the birds ready to sing, the men bring their birds out and about to socialize them, and get their competitive instincts going.

My sister, bird lover that she is, would love this competition.

I was determined to write a blog post about this interesting cultural occurrence, but most people whom I asked don’t know how it got started or why men do it.  I shall keep digging into this.

Yesterday on my way to Yoga, I saw a few men in black suits approaching the “event hall” which is near where I live. I did not think much of it, until I returned home a few hours later and saw that a police motorcycle was blocking the street I go down to get to the alley where I live. Not one to be bothered by that (as I was on a bicycle), I turned on to the street and immediately came to a halt. A bunch of people were gathering on the street. They were leaving the event hall – the women in white, with white hats, the men in black – and lining up. Someone up at the front had a banner. I stood there on my bike, watching, waiting, and wishing that I had brought one of my cameras – the small one would have done! – so I could have taken a photo. Instead I continued to wait while they finished lining up, then started walking (silently) down the road, and turned the corner.

Was it a funeral? I didn’t see a casket. Was it a holiday celebration of some sort? Memorial to a local  hero? I had no idea. But I want to find out. I was going to ask at work today, but forgot. We had a good meeting, had Roti brought in for lunch (YUM), and I started planning for tomorrow’s Strategic Planning session. So maybe I’ll remember to ask tomorrow. Or maybe someone will read this and help me out by telling me what I saw.

This afternoon I signed up for Yoga at the Indian Cultural Center,which happens to be located close to where I live. I’ve always wanted to go Yoga on a regular basis – well, here’s my chance!

I like the good days.

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